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Cemetery vandalized

Monument, Stations of the Cross defaced

This Station of the Cross is one of the 14 stations at Pioneer Catholic Cemetery that have been defaced. The cemetery was dedicated in early October after being refurbished. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

MARQUETTE — The refurbished Pioneer Catholic Cemetery, dedicated only a month ago, already has been vandalized.

Black paint was sprayed on a monument and Stations of the Cross at the cemetery, located near the intersection of Pioneer Road and Division Street in Marquette.

The site earlier this year was cleaned up and refurbished as a reflection spot for the public, with trails winding through a wooded area.

John Fee, communications director for the Diocese of Marquette, said the damage was reported to the Marquette City Police Department on Tuesday and likely happened a day or two before.

Marquette police are investigating, he said.

The granite monument at Pioneer Catholic Cemetery has been vandalized, and the Marquette Police Department is seeking. The cemetery was dedicated in early October after being refurbished. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

“We’re saddened to see such disrespect shown to those buried there and their families,” Fee said in a statement. “We plan to clean up the damage as soon as possible.”

Fee said the diocese will get expert opinions on the best way to repair the damage. He expected several techniques will be used as not only was the monument defaced, but also all 14 Stations of the Cross.

The monument is engraved with the Pieta, a Renaissance sculpture by Michelangelo of the Virgin Mary supporting the body of Jesus Christ. It also has a biblical verse.

Stone, metal and wooden surfaces were affected in the vandalism, Fee said, so the cost is unknown at this time.

Fee said the overall care and maintenance is being performed under the auspices of Holy Cross Cemetery in Marquette.

He said anyone wanting to support the cemeteries, financially or through notes of prayers and good thoughts, may send them to Holy Cross Cemetery, 1004 Harbor Hills Drive, Marquette, MI 49855.

Neil Newcomb, cemeteries director for the Diocese of Marquette, said the new historical monument and the recently restored Stations of the Cross were installed and dedicated in October.

“This inexcusable act was committed in a sacred place where we honor and remember the lives of our early Marquette community members, immigrants and families,” Newcomb said through online communication. “We have been very grateful for the many expressions of support and offers of help from the community regarding this egregious vandalism.

“We have set up a Facebook site, Pioneer Catholic Cemetery, so the community can get updates and track progress on the restoration and cleaning.”

Fee said there weren’t any security cameras at the cemetery at the time of the vandalism, but there might be now.

“That had been looked into when planning the work that was recently completed there,” he said.

The main push had been to get the landscaping, monument and other items completed before the weather got bad, Fee said, so more people would have the opportunity to visit and have a “comfortable, peaceful and prayerful experience” with those who have passed.

The Marquette City Police Department indicated it has no leads yet, but said anyone with information about the vandalism should contact the police department at 906-228-0400.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.