Sunday, September 27, 2015

Pope Day at Mount Moriah Cemetery

Volunteers Austin Mee (L) and David Munyun (photo by Robert Reinhardt)
As the Pope tools around Philadelphia this weekend - part of the World Meeting of Families Celebration - a young man is expressing his respect for families in another way. We had the honor of talking with him and his grandfather at Philadelphia’s Mount Moriah Cemetery.

As part of a community service project that he is expected to accomplish for his school, this teen chose to help perform grounds restoration work here in this Philadelphia cemetery. The Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery, Inc. and thousands of volunteers have been able to keep about twenty-five percent of this formerly abandoned, several-hundred acre cemetery clear of trees and other invasive vegetation since 2011. It is an immense challenge to just maintain cleared sections and mow grass on this huge property, let alone take back additional acreage. The majority of the cemetery looks like the scene below.

But Section G on the Philadelphia side of the cemetery is in the process of being restored thanks to young Austin Mee and his grandfather, David Munyun. While most of the population living around Philadelphia was either on the Ben Franklin Parkway waiting for Pope Francis to arrive, or avoiding it all at the Jersey Shore, these guys were cutting weeds, clearing graves, and chopping down trees.
So on Saturday, September 26, 2015, we met up with them to witness their accomplishment.

Robert Reinhardt (L) and David Munyun discuss recently cleared area
While the area of the grounds in which these fellows are working appears to be relatively clear and maintained from these photographs, it did not look like this until very recently. Trees had been taken down and weeds and thorn bushes were removed before the grass could even be cut. When my friend Rob and I arrived, most of the hard work had already been done. David and Austin had cut back weeds and trees at dozens of grave sites, and piled the debris for later pickup. They had cut back many trees of various sizes and were in the process of filling the trunks with weed killer (to kill the stump so it cannot grow back and cause additional damage to the monuments and headstones). They took a short break to talk with us.
Austin is a student at Saint Augustine Preparatory School in Richland, New Jersey (southern part of the state, about fifty miles south of Mount Moriah Cemetery), and David is a retired PECO employee. As you can see in the video above, Austin is totally engaged in this work and understands the impact he is making by generously donating his time and energy to this community cause. Also, it's great that he's spending time with his Grand Dad!
From the Saint Augustine Website:
"Service is an integral component of the Augustinian Education. Through service to others, students get to know themselves better, develop an attitude of gratitude, and make a difference in the world. Students are exposed to community service through their participation in extra-curricular activities, as every one of our athletic programs is required to perform a service project."

Further Reading:
If you would like to help the The Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery, Inc., please visit this site to see how you can donate your time or money to this cause! All are welcome to the scheduled restoration events listed!  
Click here to see the landscaping map of Mount Moriah, which shows condition of all areas and their current state of maintenance.