An inside look into the operations, staff, and mission of the university’s cemetery

A year after founding the University of Notre Dame, Fr. Edward Sorin established the Cedar Grove cemetery in 1843. Located just off Notre Dame Avenue, the 22-acre cemetery provides a place of dignified Christian burial for members of the Notre Dame community and their families. 

Originally a public Catholic cemetery for the South Bend area, the Congregation of Holy Cross transferred ownership of Cedar Grove to the university in 1970. As described on the Cedar Grove website, in 1977 the cemetery became private, open only to full-time Notre Dame faculty, staff, and “retirees with the requisite years of service.” Notre Dame alumni and parishioners of Sacred Heart Parish are eligible for above ground burial at the Our Lady of Sorrows mausoleum complex, opened in 2007. The cemetery also recently added the St. Joseph the Worker columbarium for faculty and staff who choose cremation. 

Cedar Grove is also home to the All Souls Chapel, built and designed by Brother Francis Xavier, C.S.C. in the early 1850’s. This Chapel, open for funeral services and for Mass on Memorial Day and All Souls Day, is the oldest continuously used worship space on campus—although Fr. Stephen Badin built the Log Chapel in 1831, it was completely destroyed by a fire in 1856. An exact replica was built in 1906. 

Burials of interest at Cedar Grove include some of the first settlers of South Bend, including Pierre Navarre and Alexis Coquillard. Famous Notre Dame athletic figures such as Ara Parseghian, Moose Krause, and Leon Hart are also buried there, alongside famous television host Regis Philbin. 

Under the care of the university, Cedar Grove now has three full-time employees and one part-time employee in its office. Additionally, the cemetery employs three workers in Landscape Services to tend to the grounds and assist with the burials. The staff at Cedar Grove work diligently to coordinate about 130 burials per year. 

Jon Adamson, Associate Director of Cedar Grove Cemetery, told the Rover, As members of the Baby Boomer generation are aging, our number of burials is increasing each year.” Still, Adamson remarked that the cemetery has decades of space left, despite how it may look from the outside. 

Previously an employee with Notre Dame’s Auxiliary Operations, Adamson began working more with Cedar Grove Cemetery during 2020 when sales were increasing. He remarked that the sales were higher not due to deaths, but because people were “pre-planning for future burial. COVID had people thinking about their mortality.” In 2023, Adamson was named the Associate Director of Cedar Grove. 

When asked about his work and its relation to his faith, Adamson shared, “My work at Cedar Grove is a ministry first and foremost and is an important (if unnoticed) part of the University’s Catholic mission. We perform the corporal work of mercy in burying the dead, but also the spiritual work of mercy in praying for them. I try to offer my work as a prayer for the souls of those in our cemetery as well as praying the Office for the Dead.” 

Adamson told the Rover that besides offering dignified Christian burial for members of the community and comforting the living, Cedar Grove also cares for the unborn. He explained, “One of the most important works we do in this regard is the burial of miscarriages, stillbirths, and infants that die young. The cemetery has a program in which these children of staff, faculty, and students can be buried for free (including their marker).”

Adamson reflected further on the relation between the cemetery and the university’s Catholic mission: “As the University’s cemetery, it is ‘home’ for many families within the university family. It is a place they come back to again and again to visit their loved ones. It is important for a Catholic university to have a cemetery, because of our hope in the Resurrection.” 

He continued, “Fr. Hesburgh is said to have commented that he liked the fact that a cemetery was at the university’s entrance because it served as a memento mori.” 

Besides Adamson, other full-time employees include Leon Glon and Amy Huber. Glon has been sexton and manager of Cedar Grove for 35 years and has served on the Board of Directors of the Catholic Cemetery Conference. Adamson reflected on Glon’s leadership, stating, “It is no small exaggeration to say that his knowledge of this place and his relationship with so many families that we serve is invaluable.”

Amy Huber has worked as the Sales and Services Associate at Cedar Grove for almost 5 years. Huber previously worked at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, and helped initiate the “Game Day Friday” prayer time at the All Souls Chapel that is open to the public before every home football game. Adamson told the Rover that Huber works tirelessly to make the office a welcoming place for guests and that, “in addition to her gifts of hospitality, she is unfailingly compassionate.”

Beyond full-time employees, Cedar Grove also employs several student workers who contribute to the daily operation of the cemetery. Senior Molly McNamara, told the Rover, that her “job consists of researching the unknown burials, compiling information on notable burials, and composing genealogies as requested. She continued, During my time here, Jon, Leon, and Amy [and the cemetery support dog Stella] have been great to look up to in terms of how to best assist those in grief and be a listening ear for whoever comes through the door.” 

Both Adamson and McNamara encouraged the Notre Dame community to visit Cedar Grove and continue praying for the dead. Adamson described Cedar Grove as “Hidden in plain sight,” explaining that “coming up Notre Dame Avenue, your attention is on the Golden Dome, but if you look west, we are there.” McNamara called attention to its location as well, explaining, “While Cedar Grove is located at the front entrance to campus, I have found that very few of my peers have entered and appreciated the rich history that the cemetery offers.”

As a “profoundly meditative and beautiful place,” Adamson hopes to remind readers that “Students, faculty, and staff are always welcome to come and visit, either informally or on one of our formal tours.”

Nico Schmitz is a senior in the Program of Liberal Studies from Pasadena, California. This is the end of the line for his Rover career. Don’t reach out to him at

Photo Credit: Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame

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