Archdiocese hires extra crews to tame overgrown San Antonio Catholic cemeteries

Recent follow-up visit by the Defenders finds progress, more problems

SAN ANTONIO – Landscaping crews have been working overtime at two San Antonio Catholic cemeteries following a Defenders story earlier this month, highlighting what some family members called “appalling conditions.”

Heavy rains in May and June had left the grounds at San Fernando II and III overgrown with tall grass, weeds and several more problems.

The conditions were bad enough that many families resorted to bringing their own lawn care equipment with them on visits to see loved ones in the cemeteries.

Miguel Herrera was one of the many people the Defenders talked to in May and June who were upset with the conditions and were taking matters into their own hands.

”I’m sure they can find some people that they can hire to do a better job keeping it up,” Herrera said. “Apparently they don’t have the personnel to better take care of the outgrowth. So you either leave it like that or take it on yourself to try to do something about it. We came up on Mother’s Day, that’s what we came, and we couldn’t even find it.”

On a follow-up visit last week, the Defenders found cemetery crews hard at work mowing and trimming. They were joined by extra crews hired by the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

In a statement, spokesman Jordan McMorrough said, “Additional workers were brought in and cemetery groundskeepers are working overtime to try to catch up with the landscaping of the cemeteries. The weather is not helping.”

Another round of heavy rain in early July created even more problems as heavy machinery used for burials had left deep trenches from where the tires sank into the mud. McMorrough said that too is being addressed.

”Trenches are being repaired, again, weather permitting,” McMorrough said in the statement. “The ground needs more time to dry up before crews can go in and repair the trenches.”

Another disturbing problem many families had complained about were recently-dug graves that had begun to sink.

”When the grounds receive as much rain as has been experienced this summer, recent interments will tend to sink,” McMorrough said. “Personnel take a list of recent interments and go through the cemeteries checking those graves and inspecting any sunken graves.”

One more area of concern was a mausoleum at San Fernando III that had some signs of significant sinking, which will take some time to repair.

”Personnel have started back-filling the area within the mausoleum, but it may take two weeks to complete this work,” McMorrough said.

More on KSAT:

Families appalled at condition of San Antonio Catholic cemeteries, demand answers

About the Authors:

Tim Gerber is an investigative reporter and anchor on the KSAT Defenders team.

Dale Keller is senior news photographer at KSAT-12.