Students Celebrate Earth Day at Holy Cross Cemetery

Students from Queen of Peace High School and Elementary School in North Arlington, New Jersey, were on hand today at Holy Cross Cemetery and Mausoleum to celebrate Earth Day with Catholic Cemeteries, a ministry of the Archdiocese of Newark. Forty-three students planted new trees to commemorate the occasion and recited prayers to honor those interred at the cemetery.

“We are delighted to work on this ‘green’ initiative with our students and local Catholic schools to present our families and visitors with beautiful environments in a sacred space that evangelizes our Catholic faith and uses our Earth’s precious resources wisely,” said Andrew P. Schafer, Executive Director of Catholic Cemeteries. “In celebration of Earth Day, Catholic Cemeteries has been implementing Earth-friendly initiatives for more than 15 years in an effort to preserve resources and reduce our footprint,” said Schafer. 

The seven new cherry and pear trees ranging in height from eight to ten feet, generously donated by Rose Valley Nursery of Millington, New Jersey, will enhance the cemetery’s beauty and landscape architecture. The new trees were planted in the Blessed Mother Teresa Gazebo section, which is already adorned with other cherry and pear trees and almost 1,000 shrubs, which provide shelter for the many varieties of birds that visit the cemetery. Some of the trees accommodate handcrafted birdhouses built by visiting high school students during summer work programs with the Archdiocese of Newark’s Catholic Youth Organization. The birdhouses are dedicated to a student’s loved one and help draw local wildlife to the cemetery so families and visitors can enjoy the natural beauty of the property.

Other Earth-friendly efforts implemented over the years by Catholic Cemeteries to conserve energy and preserve natural resources include:

·       The installation of more than 1,000 solar panels on an acre of land dubbed “God’s Green Acre” at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in East Hanover to support half of its mausoleum’s electrical usage.

·       Planting of 10,000 young trees and bushes following new construction at Maryrest Cemetery in Mahwah to preserve the natural landscape; installation of massive water storage areas below the earth that refill local underground reservoirs and large underground water drainage systems that protect nearby streams and waterways.

·       Development of a picturesque Green Burial section at Maryrest Cemetery with naturally-occurring flora and specially-designed pathway visitation to preserve plant and animal life.

·       Use of motion-detection lights, replacing and reducing by half the number of bulbs throughout Holy Cross Cemetery in North Arlington to minimize energy use and reduce heat.

“In his exhortation on the environment, Laudato Sí, Pope Francis emphasized that the Church has always taught that we have a special responsibility to make sure that the gifts of the earth are available to all,” said The Most Reverend John J. Myers, Archbishop of Newark.  “The trees that these young people have planted today are a very visible sign both of the sanctity and peace of the holy ground of our cemeteries, and of the value that we place on ensuring that future generations will enjoy the beauty of this earth that we all too often take for granted today.”

About Catholic Cemeteries

Catholic Cemeteries, a ministry of the Archdiocese of Newark, ministers to the needs of individuals and families before, at the time of, and after death. This includes caring assistance with cemetery pre-planning; compassionate support at the time of death and facilitating a loved one’s interment in a holy place; support throughout bereavement; and perpetual cemetery care, thereafter. The Archdiocese of Newark operates 10 Catholic cemeteries vital to the Catholic community for more than 160 years. Over one million loved ones are interred in its cemeteries, and daily and perpetual care is provided for each holy space and the entirety of each cemetery. Especially in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, Catholic Cemeteries recognizes the deep religious significance of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy involved in the burial of and prayers for a deceased loved one and the sanctity of the Order of Christian Funerals. To learn more, visit or connect on Facebook and Twitter.