The memorial cremation garden at St. Edward's Catholic Church in Bloomington is open again.

After a year in limbo, the small plot next to the church where 23 cremated remains are buried has gotten the permission of both the Bloomington City Council and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Parishioners held a ceremony this month to celebrate.

"People were elated and relieved and grateful," said LaLonne Murphy, a member of the church who helped found the garden and assists in its maintenance.

Archdiocesan leadership had ordered a "pause" in the garden's use, arguing that St. Edward did not get permission from the archdiocese to establish the garden in 2009. Some St. Edward members were concerned they would not be allowed to be buried near their loved ones.

Parishioners were notified in a letter from the church's interim pastor last November that "burying cremated remains in the memorial garden is a practice that 'burdens' the land from the standpoint of Church law. Whenever a parish intends a practice that will burden the land, proper permissions need to be obtained from the archbishop and vicar general."

Not long after the garden was established, archdiocese officials notified then-pastor the Rev. Mike Tegeder he didn't have permission to create it.

Archdiocesan leaders argued the presence of cremated remains could be an impediment if the church sought to sell the property. Officials also questioned whether the use of biodegradable containers for the remains was in line with church teaching.

Murphy said Archbishop John Nienstedt gave his approval to the garden in August and allowed it "to continue indefinitely to capacity," she said. The use of biodegradable containers also can continue, she added.

'They met all requirements'

Archdiocesan spokesman Jim Accurso said St. Edward's worked with the archdiocese to meet requirements called for under Catholic Canon Law.

"They met all the canonical requirements," Accurso said.

In September, St. Edward received formal approval from the Bloomington City Council for the garden. As part of that, the church agreed the cremated remains would be removed and relocated if it ever sold or vacated the property, said Glen Markegard, a senior city planner for Bloomington.

Parishioners Jim and Bonnie Calliguri are happy that they can now be buried next to their daughter, whose cremated remains lie in the garden.

"It's a big relief and gives you a sense of peace," said Bonnie Calliguri. "It's such a peaceful place ... right outside the church. You can have your funeral and your burial at the same time. It's just a comfort to know she's so close by. We can stop in anytime and pray."

Rose French • 612-673-4352