In the early days of the cemetery, families were the ones directly responsible for the burial of their loved ones as no official staff was employed on the grounds. As such, families not only cleared the plot of land of cactus and brush but also were very likely to dig the graves themselves. Plots were sold for a marginally small fee and could be purchased directly through a family’s parish.
When walking the older areas of Holy Hope Cemetery, many families notice that the faithful are buried facing south instead of following the Judeo-Christian tradition of facing east, it is believed that many of the faithful who were being buried in Holy Hope in the early years were born in Mexico and thus wanted their bodies facing their homeland.
For over 50 years, Holy Hope Cemetery remained a natural desert landscape, but in 1963, work began to pave the once dirt roads and change the landscaping into what you see today. To help with this monumental task, the cemetery created its very own plant nursery growing large shade trees and plants and hired its first professional cemetery staff.
In 1980, The Diocese of Tucson expanded its cemetery operations with the purchase of land on the far east side of Tucson. All Faiths Cemetery was unique to the times at its opening, encompassing a Catholic Cemetery “Our Lady of the Desert”, a non-denominational cemetery “Desert Vista”, two Jewish Cemeteries, which were owned by the Temple Emanu-El and Temple Anshei Israel, as well as a cemetery owned by the Islamic Center of Tucson.
Our Lady of the Desert Catholic Cemetery still maintains a beautiful desert-like landscape.
Today our cemeteries are continuing to grow and develop, offering not only more options for loved ones but a way to continue family traditions generation after generation.