17 January 2010

St. Catherine of Siena Cemetery Martinez, CA

I've been sitting on this post for well over a week now. You may remember some time ago there was a cemetery nearby that I was having trouble getting in to. After several attempts lasting about 6 months I was finally able to get in. Please read the background story. Now that you've done that here we are 6 months later. I wrote the deacon again just after visiting and I was all ready to come here today and write a scathing article after giving him a week to respond to my email. At first I wasn't going to send an email at all but decided it was best to find out the details before launching into a bunch of accusations. It seemed to me that the cleanup and/or restoration project I spoke about 6 months ago had stalled. Since this cemetery is on a hill I decided I'd start at the top and work my way down. It was then that I noticed the huge piles of rocks and leaves that were supposed to be cleaned up were sitting at the back of the cemetery hidden from the view of the nearby street. As you can see in the second picture here one of the piles appears to be covering someone's grave. And I couldn't tell due to the size of the pile if there were more under there? I thought to myself how careless the people cleaning the cemetery must have been to allow this to happen. The landfill is not too far from here. Couldn't they have just taken it there? Well of course that would probably cost money. Money that maybe the church didn't have at the time. I am still trying to understand the situation without being too upset about it. There is so much work to be done here it seems overwhelming. My emails have now been forwarded to the cemetery maintenance committee. This is where my correspondence stalled last time. My plan is to not let this issue go. People are still being buried here. When I visited there was a fresh grave that still had the funeral flowers on it. Another problem plaguing the cemetery is rampant vandalism. This I cannot point blame at the church, although there are several holes in the fence that could be repaired in the back. It's disheartening that people would come to a cemetery and do this level of destruction. I tried to lift a couple of the stones to see how heavy they were and there's no doubt that this vandalism has been done by a group of people. Most likely young adults or a group of teens that have nothing better to do than destroy history. The cemetery dates back to around 1860 and for somebody to destroy history on this level or at all is beyond description. I have added more pictures of the destruction to my photobucket account. I would also like to end this post with the correspondence between Deacon Albert Dizon and myself. I'm also asking anyone concerned to please email the Deacon (dcnadizon@yahoo.com) and express your concerns if possible. I think if we don't let this issue drop we will get something done here...

Deacon Dizon,

My name is Joe Dallmann and I wrote to you some 6 months ago regarding the state of the cemetery. Yesterday after many months of trying to obtain keys from the police department I was able to finally visit the cemetery itself. I'm not sure if you've personally had a chance to visit it. I was very sad when I visited. There has been a ton of vandalism there and it seems the dead branches and trees I saw them cleaning up on my last visit when I wrote my story on it have been piled at the back of the cemetery. I don't wish to take an accusatory tone as I did in previous emails without knowing the full details of what's going on there? Is there something preventing people from hauling this debris off? I will attach a couple pictures to show what I'm talking about. It seems the piles in the back actually cover some of the graves. No doubt vandalism has plagued this beautiful place. It troubles me to think that people are capable of such destruction in a cemetery. Last time we spoke I volunteered my assistance in helping out here and I can probably get a few others to assist as well. I would again like to extend that invitation and hope that someone will contact me regarding assistance. My company owns a truck and trailer and although it's small we can assist in clearing some of the wood piles and possibly the concrete debris in the back of the cemetery. Originally I intended to write a scathing article regarding the state. And yes I understand that most of these plots are purchased with the intent that the families will take care of cleaning. But what do we do when some of the plots are more than a hundred years old? I can't lift the stones by myself nor do I want to risk damaging them further. I am asking for your help in correcting this problem. Please look at the pictures in case you don't already know what's going on there. Here is the article I wrote 6 months ago... http://cemeteryexplorers..blogspot.com/2009/07/restoration-project-at-st-catherine-of.html

His response:

Hello Mr. Dallmann,
I am so sorry that I did not respond to your email right away. The truth is, I did not open this email until today. I have forwarded your email and pictures to our maintenance committee and our cemetery maintenance coordinator Mr. Pete Carpenter. I am sure he will contact you soon to take you up on your offer.
Thank you for brining this up to our attention and being so understanding with the situation.
God bless you.

Deacon Albert Dizon
St. Catherine of Siena Parish
1125 Ferry St.
Martinez, CA 94553



  1. This is shocking, I really hope something can be done.

  2. Well I've offered my help. I've even offered to assist in hauling things off to the landfill. I guess my next step will be to contact the church in charge of that church or the Oakland Diocese. Seems like a lot of finger pointing going on at this point because the graves were originally purchased with the intent the families would clean them...

  3. I hate to see cemeteries like this. I still believe that those who have no respect for the dead can't have much respect for the living.

  4. This is unbelieveable, Deez. Kudos to you for pushing the right buttons to get something done. I look forward to your follow-up blog when this proud old cemetery regains it's former beauty.

  5. it is so different thanks for sharing with us.

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  6. So sad. After all this time you finally get into the cemetery to see this. I will be waiting to hear the response you get regarding the cemetery conditions and your offer of assistance. It is so very sad to see cemeteries in this condition.If you become aware of a volunteer day, please let me know! If I am available I would be willing to help do what I can. Keep at it, I see the benefits coming!

  7. joe, this just breaks my heart!!! see, this is what i'm in it for...to prevent/repair this kind of thing. i HATE this. thank you for your tireless work though....you're gonna get some great karma from this joe!! :D

    -amy walker


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