Diocese starts restoration of Mt. Carmel tombstonesWritten by David Yonke Editor, ToledoFAVS.com | | David.Yonke@ReligionNews.com
The Catholic Diocese of Toledo Catholic has started resetting the tombstones that are in disarray at Mount Carmel Cemetery and is looking at ways to provide a more comprehensive fix.
Thomas Szych of North Toledo raised awareness of the problem, telling ToledoFAVS and its media partner Toledo Free Press that more than three dozen tombstones were off their bases in the oldest section of the historic cemetery.
Bob Shenefield, the diocese’s director of cemeteries, responded with a letter to Szych saying that he plans to address the problem. “Even though we are currently limited by a lack of abundant resources, it does not mean that we are unable to begin making progress in turning things around at Mount Carmel Cemetery,” Shenefield told Szych in a letter dated Sept. 19.
“Earlier this week I walked the oldest sections with our grounds superintendent, and we began putting a plan together to remedy several of the conditions that were identified in the article,” Shenefield said.
Szych, whose parents, grandparents and numerous other relatives are buried at Mount Carmel, said he felt the fallen and neglected tombstones showed a lack of respect for the dead. The contracts that family members sign with Mount Carmel promise perpetual care of the gravesites, Szych said. He called the diocese several weeks ago to complain, but was told there was no money or manpower to fix the fallen gravestones.
“It made me feel nice to get a letter and I called [Shenefield] back, acknowledging his acknowledgment,” Szych said. “At least somebody took the time to write the letter, and now I have a name to contact when I have a complaint.”
It was not clear how many of the tombstones had been knocked off their foundations by vandals or careless lawn care workers, and how many had fallen over from deterioration over time. Some of the fallen tombstones date to the mid-1800s. Shenefield said cemetery workers have taken the first step of “realigning many of the individual markers that were no longer on top of their original foundations.”
Crews have also begun resetting tombstones that have fallen off their bases and are lying on the ground, he said.
“Next we are planning to lift and relevel those individual markers in need of minimal foundation repair,” Shenefield wrote in the letter.
“It is apparent that there will be more to do, and larger projects to complete,” Shenefield said, “but I wanted you to know that we are aware of the situation and have made a commitment to rebuilding the faith and confidence of the families who have chosen Mount Carmel Cemetery as the final resting place for their loves ones.”
Located at Lagrange Street and Manhattan Boulevard in Toledo’s Old North End, Mount Carmel has long been the cemetery of choice for Toledo’s Polish Catholics. One of three cemeteries in the Toledo diocese, Mount Carmel was originally known as St. Mary’s and St. Francis de Sales Cemetery until it was renovated and consecrated as Mt. Carmel by Bishop Karl J. Alter in November, 1936.
David Yonke is the editor and community manager of ToledoFAVS.com, a website that provides in-depth, nonsectarian news coverage of religion, faith and spirituality in the Toledo area.