CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA)–The Knights of Columbus of Champaign with help from Urbana and Illini councils are trying to fix up St. Mary’s Cemetery. “Over the past I would say 20 or 30 years, the maintenance has not been at a level where it looked good. It’s just rundown. Gravestones are falling over or are crooked because of weather,” said Paul Conforti with Knights of Columbus of Champaign. “There’s so many areas out here that are kind of in disarray” said Larry Swinyer with Knights of Columbus.
“We have a lot of past Knights of Columbus members that are buried here, so when we found out the condition of the cemetery, we decided to take a look and see what we could do. We decided to make it a project of ours to maintain the condition,” said Conforti. “We are doing lawn work and yard work. We are cleaning brush. We are cleaning trees. We are trying to take care of tombstones that are in disarray or have been damaged by the weather,” said Swinyer.
They’re also planning on cutting down some trees to improve the appearance of the cemetery and making other improvements. “Right now we have nine flagpoles installed for patriotic holidays like the 4th of July, Memorial Day, Veterans Day. We want to ring this circle with 11 flagpoles,” said Conforti. They say this work is about respecting life. “To honor those that have come before us, those that are not with us anymore. That is something that we’re supposed to do, and that’s what we feel,” said Conforti.
You can help the group out by donating. They are currently trying to raise about $20,000 to remove and clear out trees, and then replace them with grass. Anyone wanting to volunteer or donate to help pay for a major project can send donations. They can be sent to St. Mary’s Church, 612 E Park Street, Champaign, IL 61820 or Knights of Columbus, PO Box 3548 Champaign, IL 61826.