The small group of Catholic laity that petitioned the Bishop of New York for “a church, a Pastor and a place for interment” in 1822, did not foresee the enormous in crease of the Catholic population in the old city of Brooklyn.
Having used St. James Cemetery for twenty-six years until its available land was exhausted and the much smaller St. Paul’s Graveyard on Congress Street and the Catholic section of the Wallabout or Canton Street Cemetery (near the present St. Michael-St. Edward Church), Bishop John Hughes of New York found it imperative that he purchase land for a diocesan cemetery to serve the parishes of Brooklyn.
Since the City of New York (then consisting of only Manhattan) forbade any more burials within its limits due to the cholera epidemic, Bishop Hughes purchased from James and Mary Duffy, a portion of the old Van Brunt farm in the town of Flatbush, at th geographical center of Kings County, in June of 1849, and the first burial took place on July 13, 1849 in what is known as Holy Cross Cemetery.
Once Bishop John Loughlin came to Brooklyn as its first Diocesan Bishop in the fall of 1853, he showed great interest in enlarging the cemetery property and in erecting the Chapel of the Resurrection in 1855. In the catacombs beneath the Chapel are interred some of the pioneer priests of the diocese and in the sections near the Chapel can be found the graves of some of Brooklyn’s oldest Catholic families.
Subsequent land purchases enlarged Holy Cross Cemetery to a total of ninety-six acres and, in 2007, Holy Cross Cemetery was transferred from the Diocese of Brooklyn to Saint John’s Cemetery Corporation to enhance the supervision and operation of the cemetery. The Saint John’s Cemetery Corporation was created in 1872 by a special act of the New York State Legislature at the request of the first Bishop of Brooklyn, Bishop John Loughlin, for the newly established St. John Cemetery located in Middle Village, NY. Today it owns and operates all the cemeteries for families of the Brooklyn Diocese.
The following religious congregations have their community resting places within Holy Cross Cemetery and we thank them for their years of prayerful and sacrificial service to the local church: