Reviving Sacred Ground: FSPA Cemetery Restoration Project

05/23/2024 6:00 pm

In April, Meg Paulino, FSPA Archivist and affiliate, initiated the FSPA Cemetery Restoration project. Providing support was Dave Anderson, an Associate Professor of Archeology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, along with a few of his students. Among them was Amanda Howell, a recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a bachelor’s degree in archeology and an intern at FSPA, who assisted Meg with the project. Professor Anderson supported the project, recommended some of his students to volunteer and loaned necessary tools for the restoration efforts.

The cemetery holds over 600 deceased Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. Some parts of the cemetery, especially where the sisters are buried, are low-lying. During bad weather like rain or snowmelt, these areas become flooded, burying some of the flat headstones in grass, dirt, leaves and debris. During the first session, Meg observed difficulty in identifying some headstones due to their burial in dirt. 

Because of the cemetery’s size and the number of sisters buried there, the restoration project required extensive work. A handful of volunteers generously contributed their time to clean the headstones, and thanks to their commitment, visibility was restored to all headstones. 

Special appreciation is extended to all the volunteers, including University of Wisconsin La Crosse students Amanda Howell, Anna Hacket and Megan Moeller, Sisters Karen Kappell and Mary Kathryn Fogarty, affiliates Barb and Joe Kruse, Leanne Stoke and Priamo Paulino, whose efforts made sure all the headstones were visible again after the restoration project. 

To find out how to properly clean headstones, click the button below.

How to clean a headstone

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