Each community has its beginnings. Often, we can find a museum full of history, perhaps old newspapers at the library. Sometimes stories can be told without a single sound.
Most people who know me, know I love cemeteries. I come for the history. I come here for the architecture. But most of all, I come for the silence.
Brady LeBlanc has been the Cemetery Director at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist for 11 years. I wondered, how does someone get a position like this?
He says, "I studied seven years to become a priest. When I was exiting Seminary, I needed a job. And this position was open. It was kind of a perfect fit."
He pointed out the familiar names. Spoke of them in the present tense, as if they're still here. "They're with us, even though their bodies are no longer visible. This is a place of constant connection. Their soul still lives. In a way they're still connected to us." LeBlanc adds.
LeBlanc showed me the oldest marked grave. A young woman born in 1799. He also referred to people who's name you hear, or drive every day. LeBlanc says, "The first big white tomb here is Kaliste Saloom. The Verot's are right here. Eraste Landry, everybody is here!"
The first to be entombed here are under where the Cathedral stands now. He says, "Mostly the Acadians that were exiled. After Vermilionville was settled they needed a larger church, so St. John's became the parish church for the Acadians."
Visitors are mesmerized by the tombs. LeBlanc adds, "Each are unique in the way they're designed. To reflect the person who was buried there. It's a beautiful testament to their lives and its forever etched in stone.
While there he's witnessed grieving and celebration."For some, it's a party. I've had several come in a horse driven carriage, you know with a jazz band. It's beautiful." He certainly doesn't feel alone while he's here. "As I walk through the cemetery I always get a sense that the people I'm in a sense taking care of, and watching over are watching over me."
Does LeBlanc think this will be his final resting place? He says, "I would love to. Because this is one of the few churches cemeteries right behind the church. Every day there's two masses here and these people are covered in prayer. So, yeah. Definitely."
The full interview with Brady LeBlanc can be seen below.