Funeral Information

Death is overwhelming. Death is emotional. Death is difficult - difficult to understand, difficult to believe, difficult to endure. That's why we invite you to "come share our hope." The parish community of St. Mary is here to help you and your loved ones in any way possible during this most trying of times.

Upon death of a loved one, if you have not already contacted some in the parish community, we will outreach quickly to you. We'll pray with you, help console you the best we can, and assist you in the preparation for funeral services, whether that be a Mass, the inclusion of prayers at the Wake, and/or burial information in St. Mary Cemetery here on the island. This outreach will include planning for the service(s), including suggested readings.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain,
for the old order has passed away.
Revelation 21:4

Our sympathies to you.

Donations for the Cemetery

You can make donations for the perpetual care of St. Mary's Cemetary by:

  • Check: Please make out to St. Mary Church Cemetery and send to PO Box 1168, Nantucket, MA 02554-1168
  • In Person: Please call 508.228.0100 for an appointment
  • PayPal: We will soon be offering the option to make donations by credit card using PayPal

We thank you in advance for your interest in the continued maintenance of St. Mary's Cemetary, Nantucket.

Regulations & Fees

Lots are not sold, but merely conveyed for the right of burial, which right, according to the easement issued, is subject to the laws and regulations of the Diocese of Fall River and St. Mary Cemetery.

The right of burial extends to members of the family in direct lineage. All interments are subject to the laws of the Catholic Church regarding Christian burial.

There is an Endowment Care fee for each new grave lot, payable at the time of "purchase".  Note that half the cost of grave lots listed below is for this Endowment Care.

No monument nor any structure is allowed to placed, fabricated, or installed until its rendering, inscription(s) and placement are approved by the director of St. Mary Cemetery (the pastor of St. Mary, Our Lady of the Isle Parish)  and all fees have been paid in full.

Lot Conveyance $3,500.00
Grave Opening & Closing Please call the Parish Office, 508-228-0100
Weekends & Holidays Please call the Parish Office, 508-228-0100
Opening for Cremains Please call the Parish Office, 508-228-0100

About the Cemetery

St. Mary Cemetery Purchased and ‘Blessed’ in 1871

The land for Saint Mary Roman Catholic Cemetery on Nantucket was acquired in January 1871 and consecrated in the summer of 1871 under the direction of the then Bishop of Boston, John Joseph Williams. (Boston was not to become an archdiocese until 1875.) Land records indicate the property was acquired from the Patrick Collins family, which, ostensibly, belonged to Henry Coffin prior to the Collins’s. Bishop Williams sent the Reverend Peter Bertoldi of Sandwich who “blessed” the land as “the Catholic Burying Grounds at Nantucket.” Burials at this Catholic cemetery date to the 1880s.

In the 1800s, the island had a substantial Catholic community, primarily from the Azores and Cape Verde, and proceeded to grow dramatically with the immigration of the Irish in the mid-80s due their country’s potato famine. Prior to 1871, the Catholic residents of the island were without a burial ground of their own and were interred in other burial grounds throughout the island, including the Old North Cemetery, Prospect Hill and others. The need for a dedicated cemetery was evident, and, hence, the local Catholic community petitioned for a sacred ground. With the help of the Reverend Cornelius O’Connor of Harwich, who was then serving as a long-distance pastor of the church, the Boston diocese approved the acquisition and blessing.

The property is located mid-island, bounded by Vestal Street, Cato Lane, and Hummock Pond Road and lies adjacent to Prospect Hill Cemetery. The original land was expanded in 1907 on land acquired from the Clark family.

Saint Mary Roman Catholic Church Cemetery predates the establishment of the current physical church structure on Federal Street as construction of that edifice did not begin until 1896 and was completed in July 1897. The first Mass was celebrated on August 8, 1897.  Earlier, Catholic settlers relied on periodic visits of New Bedford-based clergy for Mass and other services; in early 1871, responsibility moved from New Bedford to the Cape. In 1849,  the Reverend Thomas McNulty - often considered the island’s first pastor - paid visits to Nantucket, stayed in various homes and said Mass.

In 1962, the Marks family donated and erected the statue seen above.

With thanks to the following sources: Google Books; Nantucket Places & People 4, Underground, by Frances Ruley, Karttunen, 2010; Nantucket: A History, R. A. Douglas-Lithgow, 1914; The Church of St. Mary, A Chronicle in Celebration of Its First Century, Robert F, Mooney, 1997.

Special Ceremonies

Special Ceremonies are held at St. Mary's Cemetery for All Soul's Day and Memorial Day. Please see the bulletin for more information.