Respecting ancestors / St. John’s Irish cemetery gravestones standing again

David Carter (standing), owner of Carter Cemetery Preservation, holds a pulley from a large tripod while employee Rick Weidner lies on the ground to help lift a gravestone piece that sunk in the ground at the historic St. John Catholic Cemetery in LaSalle.
A sign marks the entrance off W. Stein Rd. in LaSalle to the site of a small graveyard in a field where about 50 Irish ancestors of St. John Catholic Church are buried. A firm that specializes in preserving cemeteries was hired to restore multiple gravestones that had sunk in  the ground or decayed over the past two centuries.

LASALLE — An Irish Catholic cemetery here that is almost two centuries old got a much-needed face-lift last week thanks to the O’Reilly Family from California that has ancestors buried there.

The historic St. John Catholic Cemetery off W. Stein Rd., managed by members of St. John Catholic Church in Monroe, had about 20 headstones raised, brushed and cleaned thanks to a fund set up by the O’Reilly Family. The small graveyard that sits a few hundred feet off the road in a field looks like a modern cemetery again thanks to constant mowing by a cemetery committee and professional work by Carter Cemetery Preservation from Commerce Township that was hired by the family.

Mary Jo Windels, co-chairman of the cemetery restoration committee along with Ken Duffey, said the parish is thankful to have the family backing the restoration.