Gate of Heaven Cemetery (Silver Spring, Maryland)

Gate of Heaven Cemetery is a cemetery located in the Aspen Hill section of Silver Spring, Maryland, in the United States. It is operated and maintained by the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Washington, Inc.[1] At the time of the cemetery's consecration in 1956, it was the first Roman Catholic archdiocesan cemetery to open in the Washington metropolitan area in 70 years. The grounds of Gate of Heaven Cemetery are centered around a series of internal roads and pathways, which in combination, form the shape of the Latin Cross.[2][3]

Gate of Heaven Cemetery
EstablishedJune 17, 1956 (1956-06-17)
CountryUnited States
Coordinates39°04′59″N 77°04′26″W
TypeRoman Catholic
StyleTraditional lawn
Owned byCatholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Washington, Inc.
Size92 acres (37.23 ha)
Find a GraveGate of Heaven Cemetery
The Political GraveyardGate of Heaven Cemetery
Footnotes"Gate of Heaven Cemetery". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. September 12, 1979. Retrieved January 17, 2019.

About the cemetery

The District of Columbia was founded in 1791, and initially several small Roman Catholic cemeteries were established in the city. The last of these, St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery on Lincoln Road NE, was organized in 1870. Despite the rapid growth in the city's population during the next 70 years, no new Catholic cemeteries were organized within the Archdiocese of Washington. The Right Reverend Monsignor Edward L. Buckley of the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle was aware of the need to plan ahead, however, and began advocating for the purchase of land for a new burying ground. In 1928, the Catholic Cemetery Association, a private, nonprofit organization, which purchased land for the creation of Catholic cemeteries, purchased 92 acres (37.23 hectares) of land from the Rabbitt family in Montgomery County, Maryland. The intent was to name the new cemetery "New Mount Olivet," after its District of Columbia–located Mount Olivet Cemetery, although no name was ever formally adopted.[4]

By 1955, it was clear that a new cemetery was sorely needed in the Archdiocese of Washington. The Catholic Cemetery Association transferred its title to this land to the archdiocese, and a new cemetery, named Gate of Heaven, was established. Gate of Heaven Cemetery was laid out around a 10-acre (4.05 ha) roadway which was designed in the shape of a cruciform and was lined with trees. Four roughly rectangular sections extend from each side of this cruciform-shaped roadway.[4] Life-size Stations of the Cross were placed at intervals in this central section.[5] All of the roadways were named for saints, and numerous shrines to saints were spread amongst the cemetery's 28 sections.[4][5][2][3] A 100-seat chapel was constructed at the center of the cruciform-shaped roadway.[5][2][3] The cemetery's main gate is particularly notable. It features large wrought iron gates set in masonry pylons 10 feet (3.05 metres) high and 30 feet (9.14 metres) wide. Just inside and to the right of the main gate was a small caretaker's cottage made of stone. The cemetery was dedicated on June 17, 1956, by the Most Reverend Patrick O'Boyle, Archbishop of Washington.[4]

Gate of Heaven Cemetery began receiving interments at the beginning of July 1956.[5]

Cemetery grounds

The perimeter of Gate of Heaven Cemetery is bounded by Georgia Avenue, to the southwest; Connecticut Avenue, to the northwest; Peppertree Lane, Strathmore Local Park, and Strathmore Elementary School, to the northeast; and the Aspen Manor Shopping Center, Beret Neighborhood Conservation Area, and Beret and Bustleton lanes, to the southeast.[3][6] A portion of the northeast corner of the cemetery was sold in the 1960s or 1970s to the state of Maryland, as a means of raising funds for the trust account that maintains the cemetery. Strathmore Local Park and Strathmore Elementary School were constructed on this land.[6] Gate of Heaven Cemetery only used about half of its acreage when it opened in 1956, and only in the late 1990s began expanding onto its unused land.

Gate of Heaven Cemetery is a traditional lawn cemetery. The burial area is a lawn, with trees and shrubs around the perimeter. Most gravestones are flush with the earth, with only a few above-ground memorials. The cemetery also has several mausoleums for interment, as well as several columbaria.

In addition, Gate of Heaven staff administer St. John's Cemetery, located on the grounds of St. John the Evangelist Parish's Saint John the Evangelist Historic Church, at 9700 Rosensteel Avenue, in the Forest Glen section of Silver Spring.[7][8][9][1]

Notable interments

  • James Leo "Jim" Gibbons (1913–2001) — noted Washington, D.C., and Maryland broadcaster, "voice" of the Washington Redskins on radio and television for 23 years, and ABC Radio Network "Game of the Week" play-by-play announcer.[15]
  • Judge Charles Francis McLaughlin (1887–1976) — Member of the House of Representatives from Nebraska (1935—1943) and senior United States district court judge for the District of Columbia, from December 1964 to June 1974.[10]


  1. "History of the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Washington". Retrieved January 17, 2019. These cemeteries were operated by the Archdiocese and independent of each other. Each cemetery had its own management and operating structure, its own accounting department, and its own operating policies. While this loosely knit plan was an improvement over past practices, it too left room for improvement. In 1978, the Archdiocese developed and implemented a formal management plan to further modernize the operation of Archdiocesan cemeteries. The plan called for Archdiocesan cemeteries to be consolidated into one organization, and so, the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Washington, Inc. was formed and incorporated. The Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Washington, Inc., presently consists of five major cemeteries and two minor cemeteries which were former parish cemeteries.
  2. "Introduction — Gate of Heaven Cemetery". Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  3. "Index Map — Gate of Heaven Cemetery — Montgomery County, Maryland" (PDF). Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  4. "Archbishop to Dedicate Cemetery". The Washington Post. June 16, 1956.
  5. "O'Boyle Dedicates New Cemetery". The Washington Post. June 18, 1956.
  6. Relation: Gate of Heaven Cemetery (9227289). © OpenStreetMap contributors. Retrieved January 19, 2017.CS1 maint: others (link)
  7. "St. John's Forest Glen Cemetery". Retrieved January 17, 2019. St. John’s Forest Glen Cemetery (administered by Gate of Heaven staff; St. John's Cemetery Rosensteel Avenue Silver Spring, Maryland 20910)
  8. "History of Place". Retrieved January 17, 2019. St. John's cemetery is administered by the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Washington, Inc.; HISTORIC CHURCH 9700 Rosensteel Avenue Forest Glen, MD 20910.
  9. Saint John the Evangelist Catholic Church Cemetery, Forest Glen, Montgomery County, Maryland, USA; Find A Grave Cemetery ID 1837085. Find a Grave contributors. Maintained by Find a Grave. January 18, 2003. Retrieved January 17, 2019. Also known as Forest Glen Cemetery.CS1 maint: others (link)
  10. United States. Congress; Dodge, Andrew R.; Koed, Betty K. (2005). Dodge, Andrew R.; Koed, Betty K. (eds.). Biographical Directory of the United States Congress: 1774–2005 (PDF). House document (United States. Congress. House), 108-222. 14902 of United States congressional serial set. United States. Congress. Joint Committee on Printing. Washington, D.C.: U.S. G.P.O. ISBN 978-01-607317-61. OCLC 63049058. GPO LPS69614.
  11. Spencer, Thomas E. (1998). Where they're buried : a directory containing more than twenty thousand names of notable persons buried in American cemeteries, with listings of many prominent people who were cremated. Baltimore, Maryland: Clearfield Company. p. 339. ISBN 978-08-063482-30. OCLC 632317843 via Internet Archive. Gate of Heaven Cemetery Silver Spring.
  12. Jim Castiglia Past Stats, Statistics, History, and Awards - Archived 2008-02-18 at the Wayback Machine
  13. "Jim Castiglia". Find a Grave. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  14. "Albert DeMao". The Washington Post. February 5, 2008.
  15. "Broadcaster James Gibbons Dies". Frederick News-Post. February 16, 2001. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  16. "Judge's Funeral Services Today". The Washington Post. March 14, 1963.
  17. "Leemans, Alphonse E. (Tuffy)". The Washington Post. January 23, 1979.
  18. Bredemeier, Kenneth (January 16, 1980). "Labor, Politicians Eulogize Meany". The Washington Post.
  19. "Robert Novak". Find a Grave. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  20. "James Louis Oberstar". Find a Grave. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  21. "Guy Prather Obituary".
  22. "Guy Prather".
  23. "James M. Quigley". The Washington Post. December 17, 2011.
  24. Franscell, Ron (September 4, 2012). The Crime Buff's Guide to Outlaw Washington, D.C. Crime Buff's Guides. Lanham, Maryland: Globe Pequot Press. ISBN 978-07-627887-05. OCLC 890531057. 1781759 via Google Books.
  25. Johnson, Darragh (June 29, 2004). "Celebrating the Courage of Mattie". The Washington Post.