St. Joseph Cemetery was established by Reverend Henry Plaster, Pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Hammond. The date is thought of to be around August 11, 1881. St. Joseph Cemetery was located at the corner of 165th Street and Hohman Avenue. Mr. John Verhoven donated one acre of land to be used as a cemetery. In 1886, an additional three acres were added to the cemetery.
Often times, mourners would frequent the tavern that was located near the cemetery, after the conclusion of the burial services. It is told that Father Plaster objected to this behavior. To correct this problem, a new site for the cemetery needed to be located. In 1890, five acres of land was purchased for a cemetery at the current St. Joseph location. The land was adjacent to fifteen acres of land owned by Greenwood Cemetery.
Around 1895, an additional five acres was purchased from Greenwood Cemetery, and in 1924, just east of the cemetery, Father John Berg purchased another ten acres of land. These ten acres of land were developed and opened for sale in 1997. In 1928, on the north side of 167th Street, one acre of land was purchased. This is the area where now stands the office/chapel and garage. On November 2, 1977, the Chapel was dedicated by Bishop Andrew G. Grutka and still remains in use today.
St. John Cemetery was started on November 1, 1904. During the 1920’s, another ten acres of property was purchased, just north of 167th Street. This property was developed and opened in 1952. In 1975, two mausoleum buildings were constructed, and in 1985, two additional buildings were added. Also, in 1985, under the control of the diocese, St. John and St. Joseph were combined into one cemetery.
Cremation rates had increased, and there was a need for niches. On June 22, 1998, the first columbarium was completed. The second columbarium was completed on March 18, 2004. The third columbarium was completed on July 31, 2007, and on February 2, 2010, the fourth columbarium was completed. On June 30, 2010, the Cross was set on top, to complete the project.
In March 2002, work was started on the “Christ the Redeemer” Mausoleum. The sculpture was set in August 2002, and the Mausoleum was completed in September 2002.
On July 31, 2004, The “Providence” Section was created at St. John/St. Joseph Cemetery for the stillbirths and the unborn. St. Margaret’s Hospital was instrumental in helping us with this project, where the remains of our little loved ones are interred, and where family members can come and pray for those who have passed away too soon.
In May 2017, a new 112 niche granite columbarium building was installed, and a granite statue of the Holy Family was placed on the top of this building. Bishop Donald J. Hying blessed this building after the 2017 Memorial Day Mass. The building was purchased from D.O.H. Services, a granite company in South Holland, IL. Flower holders and benches were also added with granite polished bollards around perimeter.
In 2018, there was an idea to put a new mausoleum complex in the new ten acres, just north off of 169th Street, and Bishop Hying suggested the name for it: The St. Joseph of Arimathea Mausoleum Complex, which was named after Joseph of Arimathea, the man who asked Pontius Pilate for the body of Jesus, and donated the tomb for Jesus to be buried in. In January 2019, the first building for this complex was completed. Near this building, there is a gazebo, as well as a statue of St. Joseph of Arimathea, holding Jesus, with the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene. This statue was set in March 2019. In May 2019, immediately following the Memorial Day Mass, Bishop Hying dedicated the new building.
In 2020, by popular demand, there was a decision to put a new columbarium on the front lawn, and in January 2021, the building was completed. There is a statue of St. John the Baptist on top (also set in January), because the property that the columbarium sits on was owned by St. John the Baptist Parish in Whiting.