NORTH ANDOVER — Up until recently, Holy Sepulcher Cemetery only had 12 spaces available for burial on its 15 acres of land on Waverly Road.
That all changed after St. Patrick Parish of Lawrence, which owns and maintains the cemetery, built three different areas for crypts, vaults and cremains.
“People did not have these options before,” the Rev. Paul O’Brien, pastor at St. Patrick.
The cemetery now has spaces for 200 crypts in the St. Joseph section; 100 vaults in the Blessed Virgin Mary section and two sets of cremains can be interned for a total of 100 burials in the Saint Francis Garden.
“We have been running out of space for the past 25 years, and because of the low numbers we were only burying active parishioners,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien said cremations can be buried in a Catholic cemetery.
“As long as the person is being cremated believing in the resurrection, and not for anti-faith reason, it’s OK,” he said.
To build the new areas, half of the road in the center of Holy Sepulchre or 400 feet was torn up, said cemetery manager Joe Viel.
“We went from less than 12 to 500 (openings),” he said. “Families with plots now can be buried in the cemetery not so far from their loved ones.”
Although St. Patrick Parish is located in Lawrence, North Andover was once part of the city, which is likely the reason the cemetery is in that town. St. Michael in North Andover was a mission church of St. Patrick until it became a parish of its own in 1900.
The first burial at Holy Sepulchre was in 1894.
Holy Sepulchre’s expansion is not over yet, Viel said. They cleared an overgrown area 800-feet long and 20-feet deep which will be loomed and seeded in the spring. This section will be home to 1,000 graves. There is also a grassy knoll that can accommodate 2,000 more graves.
“In the process of doing the expansion, we realized we had a lot of room to grow for the future,” O’Brien said.