In June, public notices appeared in The Advertiser and The Victor Harbor Times detailing the proposed closure of St John the Evangelist Catholic Cemetery at Port Elliot and informing relatives of those whose graves, plaques or memorials are located at the cemetery to contact the Victor Harbor-Goolwa parish to exercise their interment rights.
The historical cemetery is located on the corner of Leeds and Cameron streets. The land at Waterport was purchased in 1864, with the intention of incorporating a graveyard in the grounds of St John’s Church, however the first burial took place in October 1864 prior to the consecration of the church, in December of that year.
At the ceremonial laying of the cornerstone and consecration of the church on December 14 1864, the SA Register reported that a bottle containing coins and a descriptive tablet was buried under the stone. Donations to help with the building costs of the church were collected on the day, with £86 received. A convent was also built at the same time which was used by the Sisters of Saint Joseph.
While St John’s Church was demolished in 1936, the cemetery remained ‘active’, with 67 burials recorded and a number of unmarked graves at the site noted. The last burial was more than 50 years ago in August 1972.
Unfortunately, the cemetery fell into a state of disrepair over the years. In 2015 restoration works were undertaken to improve the graveyard and the site was surveyed to locate some of the unmarked graves.
However, this year the Victor Harbor-Goolwa parish through the Adelaide Archdiocese set the wheels in motion to close the ‘active’ cemetery. As parish priest Fr Vinh Tran explained, legal requirements made it necessary to wait until at least 50 years after the last burial before a cemetery could be ‘closed’.
“It is a lengthy process and the proposed closure date is not until December 31 2024,” he said.
“The land where the cemetery is located will continue to be owned by the Archdiocese and once the cemetery is officially closed, application will be made to convert the area into a memorial garden.”
Anyone wanting more information about the closure of the cemetery should contact the Victor Harbor-Goolwa parish at email@example.com or 8552 1084.