Category Archives: feature stories

Life…a poem from Diane Zych printed with her permission

Diane Zych wrote a very beautiful poem that she is willing to share with our readers.  She was blessed with a 50 year marriage and lost her sweet and loving husband this past year.

   Life

It is said that man is destined to die

     from the moment of his birth.

But though I may try, I can not deny

     life’s merriment and mirth.

I have spent hours praising intoxicating flowers,

     and toasting the sinuous sun.

As the moon brightens, my inebriation heightens,

     in celebration of the day that is done.

So I shall be fanciful, lighthearted and gay

     and rejoice in the miracle of life.

For all too soon will come the day

     I shall be sobered by Death’s summoning fife.

Thank you for sharing these meaningful words.

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Calumet Park Funeral Chapel in Hobart (just before the Apple Orchard) on County Line Road sponsored wonderful angel tree lighting ceremony on December 8th…

Calumet Park Funeral Chapel in Hobart held its first annual Angel Tree Lighting Ceremony.  It was well attended with over 100 people sharing an afternoon of music, remembrances, good fellowship and the hanging of the angels of a loved one on the angel tree.

This event was guided by funeral home supervisor Violet de la Torre-Corona and assistant Mike Poweska.

Hope to see you all again next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merrillville High School Vocal Teens led by Choral Director Melinda Reinhart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rendina Funeral Home holds its 4th Annual Angel Tree Lighting ceremony on November 29…nice gathering of families

Michelle Hanrahan, Funeral Director and Funeral Home Supervisor reading names for people to place angels on tree.

Paul Vogel, President and CEO of Calumet Park, sharing a seasonal message.

Brant Vogel singing “Golden Threads”.

The Vogel brothers: Brant, Paul and Rob

Harpist Renee Wilson

Kim Jones and Michelle Hanrahan

Matt Hahn

Raquel Santos, Funeral Director (sorry, not able to turn pic)

Carl Paunicka, Matt Hanh, Kim Jones and Michelle Hanrahan

Raquel Santos, Marcia Ochoa and Barb Fedorchak

Barb Fedorchak

Board Members: Kim Jones, Carl Paunicka, Paul Vogel and Rob Vogel

    

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Top cemetery in the country awarded to Calumet Park Cemetery from American Cemetery and Cremation magazine…

ACE Winner  Click here for the article announcing Calumet Park Cemetery as the winner of the best cemetery in the country.  Thanks to all the employees and owners of Calumet Park Cemetery.  It is due to the dedication and true spirit of service to our neighbors that inspires the Calumet team to be the best.  Like the Wizard of Oz, we always knew that we had a brain, a heart and courage, and now we have bragging rights that our feelings about what we do is officially recognized.   Calumet Park has received runner-up awards a number of times so it is appreciated to be the recipient of this honor from the American Cemetery and Cremation magazine (celebrating their 90th anniversary just as Calumet Park Cemetery is doing the same…both founded in 1928).

For info on prearranging you cemetery and funeral needs, call 219-769-8803.

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Thoughtful letter of thanks from a family served by Calumet Park Cemetery…

 

Meditation Pond niches for final placement of cremains.

The following letter was received from a sweet lady after the placement of her loving husband in the new niche bank on the north shore of the Meditation Pond at Calumet Park Cemetery.  This letter is included in this facebook entry, not as a way to give special credit to Dan because he was just being Dan.  It is here because we all need to be reminded that love like this exists, is real and the loss is felt so deeply.  All of the staff at Calumet Park helps people every day of the year, whether our funeral home staff, office people, family service department or the people that oversee the grounds.  Permission was granted to put this letter on Calumet Park’s facebook page.

November 20, 2018

Board of Directors

Calumet Park Cemetery

2305 West 73rd Avenue

Merrillville, Indiana 46410

 

Dear Board Members,

I needn’t tell you as members of the Board of Directors of Calumet Park Cemetery that losing a loved one, any loved one, is one of life’s most painful and stressful experiences.  However, losing someone that I loved as passionately as I did my late husband brought agonizing pain for which I was totally unprepared even though I knew of the unthinkable for the previous fifteen months.  Thankfully I received and continue to receive consolation and support from dear family members and friends.

Occasionally someone new to me provided solace as well.  One such person is a dedicated and sensitive employee of yours, Dan Moran.  I met Dan briefly on my first visit to the cemetery.  He stepped into the office where I was completing paperwork, introduced himself, and provided me with a business card.  I am so incredibly thankful that he did.  I contacted him a few days later to voice a concern but couldn’t initially speak through a deluge of tears.  Dan was genuinely impacted, and after speaking with him, I sensed his sincerity and that he would absolutely resolve any issue I identified.  And of course he did.

One issue that I will be eternally grateful to him and the Board is understanding how important it was to me, to us, that the inscription, “With all my love, always” be included on our niches.  Joe signed hundreds of cards and letters using these five words for 56 years.  Those five words reflect a love story the depth of which is difficult to express, let alone explain.  Five words, two lives, one love.

I wish to commend Dan for the tender and professional manner in which he conducted himself each time we met or spoke.  He is, needless to say, an incredible asset to Calumet Park Cemetery.  Whoever had the foresight and insight to hire him also needs to be commended.

Sincerely,

Diane Z.

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Trunk or Treat a huge success at Calumet Park Funeral Chapel in Hobart…

Thanks to all who visited this year’s Trunk or Treat event at Calumet Park Funeral Chapel in Hobart.  The funeral home is just north of the County Line Apple Orchard and just south of Route 6 and County Line Road in Hobart.  A special thanks go out to all who helped make this event such a success. Lead by Violet de la Torre-Corona, funeral director, and Mike Poweska, many local businesses participated which offered a safe place for kids of all ages to spend a couple of hours having fun.  Several employees from Calumet Park worked along side Violet and Mike and are appreciated for their contribution to this wonderful activity.

For information on pre-arranging or regarding future special community activities, call 219-940-3791 or stop by the funeral home for a personal, guided tour.  Se habla espanol.

Mark your calendar for December 8 for the Angel Tree Lighting Ceremony to be held at the Hobart Chapel (370 North County Line Road in Hobart.  Merrillville’s tree lighting is December 1 and Rendina’s tree lighting is November 29.  Call for times and to reserve your angels.

 

 

 

 

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You can still participate in the Calumet Park Cemetery 5K Light the Darkness walk/run for suicide prevention…

 

2018-09-27 02.22.10http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/post-tribune/opinion/ct-ptb-davich-lisa-gold-son-suicide-st-0928-story.html

Click on article above written by Jerry Davich, writer for the Post Tribune newspaper.  His article tells the story Dr. Gold.  She will be the  guest speaker for Saturday, September 29, 5K fundraiser for suicide awareness.  The map shows the path of the 3.1 mile course.  All are invited to join in on this fundraiser to bring suicide awareness and prevention into the public conversation.

Call 219-769-8803 for details.  Calumet Park is located at the corner of 73rd and Taft in Merrillville.  Over 100 runners/walkers have signed up and will participate.

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A fascinating story…

A time when “medaling” made a difference…

by Daniel Moran, G.M. Calumet Park Cemetery

I was standing outside the Calumet Park office in Merrillville in mid-August.  It was 91 degrees and very high humidity.  I was walking a man out to his car after helping with his cemetery questions.  For this story, I will refer to him as Bob.  I made mention that I could see he was riding with Christ and he stared at me for a second.  I pointed to the small statue on his dashboard.

“Oh! Oh yeah, that,” he answered.  And then, as we stood in the scorching sun, he told me his story.  A number of years ago, he spoke of riding his motorcycle and just loved the feeling of freedom this simple act gave him. His bike was not even a week old and he was putting it through the paces.    He said he might have been pushing the speed limit a little when, from his left mirror, he saw a car headed directly into his path.  To avoid being hit, throttled up to the max, lost control and veered directly into a concrete wall.

By all accounts, he said he should have died.  In fact, he even thinks that maybe he did die.  After three weeks in a coma, he awoke.  His first wife had died a couple of years before, and when he woke up after the crash, his second wife teared up as he spoke.  He whispered to her what you might expect someone to say when waking up in a hospital room.  “Where am I?” he asked.  “What happened?”

“Bob, you were in a serious accident,”  she answered.

“When?”

“Three weeks ago,” she replied.

Bob looked around the room.  He was connected to monitors and wires and tubes connecting him to life sustaining gadgetry.  He said a nurse came running in and doctors’ were called in to check on the return to life of this bandaged and broken body.  As things calmed down, he resumed his talk with his wife.  She explained that (please forgive the description of his injuries, but they are important to this miracle) his nose was torn to the side of his face.  Some of his teeth were gone and his lower jaw was ripped to the side.  Along with this were a number of broken bones but the facial injuries were the most severe.  He was knocked out completely and was constantly being monitored and observed as regards to brain injuries.

They talked and prayed and thanked everyone they saw that contributed to his recovery.  As Bob was wrapping up his story, I was sweating in the jungle-like heat and just wanted the story to be over so I could get back inside.  I was three feet away from one of my favorite inventions of all time…air conditioning, but I did not want to interrupt his story.

“So, I asked my wife about my chain and medal.  Did they find it?”

I figured it was maybe a medal from the service, or a gift from some special time in his life from some special person, or even a simple piece of gold jewelry that was important to him.  But, as he continued his story, the medal was a medallion that had the Sacred Heart of Jesus cast upon it.  It was a medal that Christians would wear as a reminder of the sacrifice made for all of our sins.

“My wife reached into her purse and stared down at the medal for a few seconds.  She started crying again.  I asked her what was wrong.  She handed me the silver chain and the medal.  My heart skipped a beat as I looked at my medallion.  It seems that when I hit the wall, I slammed so hard that somehow the medal was torn and bent…at the nose, mouth and chin.  My injuries were mirrored exactly on the medal. “

Bob stopped talking for a minute, and a chill ran down my sweat-soaked back.  It took a minute to register in my mind that his own injuries were replicated on a medal by a simple artists impression of what Jesus, the man, looked like….and how they melded into one on that fateful day three weeks previous to his regaining consciousness.

Coincidence?  Possibly.  But in this business, I hear too many stories of such incidents in people’s lives to believe in coincidence.  To me, his story rang true.  There was no need to enhance what happened.  It just happened.  There was nothing to be gained or lost in the telling of the story but I received it as an affirmation of the fact that God still makes miracles.

“So, the fact that I am here talking to you, and showing you my scars, and telling you why I have a $10.00 statue on the dash of my car…man, I believe He was riding with me that day.  Now, I go no place without Him.  Before the accident, it was just an ornament that seemed cool.  But believe me, I totally believe He was watching over me that day.

dashboard_jesus_car_grande

With that, we shook hands and said goodbye.  I asked if I could tell his story and he said sure, I tell everyone anyway.  His story reminded me of one of my favorite prayers.  You know the one.  Footprints, where a man had a dream.  He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord.  Across the sky flashed scenes from his life.  For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonging to him and the other to the Lord.  When the last scene of his life flashed before him he looked back at the footprints and he noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints.

He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.  This really bothered him and he asked the Lord about it.  “Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you would walk with me all the way.  But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints.  I don’t understand why, when I needed you most, you would leave me.”

The Lord replied, “My precious, precious child.  I love you and I would never leave you.  During the times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

I don’t know the author of Footprints, but the bike guy was looking me in the eye and telling his own version of Footprints.   You can read this and say it’s an interesting story, or you can read this and know that miracles still happen.  Simply put, for you to even be reading this story, at this moment, is quite a miracle when you consider how fragile life is for all of us.  I believe absolutely that we are here because we are supposed to be here, and if it is not our time to go, then we can run into a stone wall at 80 miles an hour and live to tell about it.

So, Bob, thanks for your story.  I am glad that we met and you shared your story.  Or…hey, maybe it was preordained that I hear your story so I could share it with those with eyes to see and ears to hear.

For info on pre-planning funeral and cemetery arrangements, stop in or call 219-769-8803

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Crosses erected at Calumet Park Cemetery in Merrillville on August 1, 2018…

Pastor Rusty Shields was joined by Paul Vogel, son Quinn, Anne Jones, Richard Stake and Daniel Moran at an early morning, impromptu dedication of the crosses.  After singing Amazing Grace, the Thursday morning prayer group gathered around the crosses as Pastor Shields offered a prayer of thanks and a blessing that the crosses may bring all who see them a little closer to God.

Randy Music, Kevin Music, Tom Music, Orlando Perez, Shawn McClure, Jeremy Grant and Tim McClure – designers and installers of crosses on August 2, 2018.

After years of depositing dirt to make a small hill just west of the mausoleum complex, the time had come to bring this dream of acknowledgement and praise to fruition by erecting the three crosses.  Tim McClure and Tom Music, superintendent and assistant superintendent of Calumet Park Cemetery, with the help of the ground’s crew staff of Kevin Music, Randy Music, Shawn McClure, Jeremy Grant and Orlando Perez, set them in place on Wednesday, August 1.  They are impressive and inspiring and may be seen by all when you visit Calumet Park Cemetery.

The crosses offer an opportunity for reflection on the Christian belief that Jesus Christ’s sacrifice opened the path to eternity in heaven by simply accepting Him as the Savior…a path to eternal glory for all who seek Him.  A special thanks go out to the Board of Director’s of Calumet Park Cemetery for making this special place, now blessed, for all who visit the cemetery.

Stop in at the office and a Family Service Person will be more than happy to show you these beautiful crosses.  A formal dedication open to the public is being planned.  A notice will go out to all of our on-line newsletter subscribers as to a time and date.  If you are not currently on our email list,  send us an email with your name to:  newsletter@calumetparkcemetery.com  In subject portion, type “add me to email list” and in the message portion enter your name, address including zip and phone.  For instance, John Doe, 123 Smith Lane, Smallville, IN 56410 (219.771.7777).

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Eerily Amazing miracle at Butterfly Release Ceremony…click and read…

A small miracle happened at the Calumet Park Cemetery butterfly release memorial ceremony on July 21.  Each year families and friends gather at the Butterfly Garden in the Back to Nature Section for spiritual readings and live music.  The hour long event concludes with the reading of an old Native American Indian legend called “The Legend of the Butterfly”.  Native Americans believe that a wish whispered to a butterfly will be granted when the butterfly flies up to the heavens.

Butterflies are deep and powerful representations of life. Many cultures associate the butterfly with our souls. The Christian religion sees the butterfly as a symbol of resurrection.  Around the world, people view the butterfly as representing endurance, change, hope, and life.  A butterfly is a symbol for the Resurrection!  It is a spiritual symbol for life after death because of its metamorphosis, or transformation, from a caterpillar that crawls on the ground to a beautiful, almost ethereal creature that flies through the air.

There were concerns that rain and high winds were on their way that Saturday morning.  The area was hit hard with severe storms the previous couple of days, so it was almost a coin toss as to whether or not the event would even be held.  Amazingly, the weather was not a deterrent to approximately 350 brave souls, and all six hundred and twenty butterflies were released, each carrying a special message to heaven.

So, back to the miracle.  In December, a sweet young lady lost her twin boys at the 5th month of her pregnancy.  To lose a baby is so very devastating and if it is possible, losing two at the same time must be crushingly overwhelming.  The hopes and dreams that a parent has for the life of her child is buried with her babies.  As a father who experienced such a loss, I can say that the memories of one’s hopes for the future of a lost child never die.  Although it is real that God called home His children on His timetable, the reality for those left behind is sometimes a shaken fist at God with lots of questions…all starting with “WHY?”

Although the mother gave permission for her real name to be used in this story, she will be referred to as Mother Mary for the rest of this article.  Privacy is important in the world in which we live, and Mother Mary’s privacy should be respected.  During the week leading up to the Butterfly Release, Mother Mary was followed, on and off, by two butterflies.  It scared her a little and she saw them as a sign that God had not forgotten her during her time of loss.  In one sense, Mother Mary told us that she found peace in the tiny, winged creatures of God and felt it would be redundant to attend the live release…but something told her to show up…rain or shine.

On the morning of the release, the crowd grew slowly and steadily.  Mother Mary quietly joined with the others in finding a place to blend in with others while being alone with her thoughts.   Her babies would have been seven months old in July, and thoughts of all of the little outfits and baby paraphernalia were filling up her mind and her heart.

Tears are a healing balm to broken hearted people.  In fact, I remember back some 33 years ago that it felt like my tears would never stop.  To this day, I can see a mother and father with a newborn baby and my heart weeps over what might have been.  So, a great many tears flowed from attendees of all ages, races, colors, faiths and creeds on that special Saturday morning, including those of Mother Mary.

After a couple of readings,  commentary, and songs, the time had come for all to gather around the butterfly garden and the bronze statue of the child offering up a butterfly, laden with wishes from mouth, to butterfly, to God.  Mother Mary found just the right spot to release her butterflies from their folded paper casings. She had two green envelopes with the words “Do not be afraid for I am with you…” printed on them which is a promise from God when He said “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.  Do not anxiously look about for I am your God and I will strengthen you.  Surely I will help you.  Surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand!”

With close to 400 people gathered around a garden filled with plants and flowers meant to attract butterflies, Mother Mary whispered her private wish to her butterflies.  And that is when the miracle happened.  It would not be noticed by any of the hundreds of people that surrounded her, but it will be with Mother Mary forever.  When she opened her first envelope, two butterflies stretched their gossamer wings and lifted off in unison.  Two in one envelope…a simple mistake on the part of the person in Florida that packed the gentle creatures that has never, ever been known to have happened in the history of the people that supply the butterflies for this event.

Surely, any actuary could not come up with statistics that could represent this occurrence.  Millions of butterflies released annually around the world, and on this day, for this event and for this grieving mother, God arranged to have twin butterflies emerge to be sure that her wishes…one for each of her sons…would have a butterfly dedicated to delivering her wishes to His ears.

This simple mistake on the part of a “butterfly packer” thousands of miles away answered Mother Mary’s wishes before she could even utter them.  God knew in His heart this day would come, long before Mother Mary’s own mother and father came together and conceived her.  God has a plan, and we are inserted into His timeline.  We are along for the ride, and sometimes the ride is bumpy and cold and lonely and filled with pain.  Other times, we come out of the tunnel of darkness filled with joy.

On this day, in the midst of one of Mother Mary’s most bumpy and crushing of all of life’s challenges,  Mother Mary found a moment of peace and joy as she watched the two butterflies flutter away, side by side, toward the heavens.  The babies were His, and He needed them to come home on His schedule.  The two butterflies were but a heavenly message to Mother Mary that He heard her cries of desperation since the day of her loss.  It was received by Mother Mary as confirmation that He had not forsaken her.

As miracles go, two butterflies in one envelope may seem “accidental” to a bystander.  Raising of Lazareth, or feeding thousands with a few loaves and fishes, or even changing water into wine at the Wedding Feast of Cana were miracles.  But for Mother Mary on this day, in this field, unfolding a small green triangle shaped paper envelope to let her butterfly go, seeing two butterflies emerge was all the affirmation she needed to know in her heart that they were with Jesus.

And friends, that is why Calumet Park sponsors this type of community event.  Set the table for a miracle and a miracle may just appear.  Who doesn’t remember the line from the baseball movie, “Build it and they will come.”  To this, I say, build a life that is open to Christ, invite Him in, and you too shall discover that God has plans for all of us if we allow ourselves to believe, for the age of miracles is now.

 

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