A New Marker for the Augustinian Plot in Calvary Cemetery

In 1980, the Augustinians purchased a plot of land in Calvary Cemetery in West Conshohocken, PA.  High atop a rolling hill, the mortal remains of dozens of deceased friars have been interred in neat rows under the loving gaze of Our Mother of Good Counsel.

When Renee Cirino, MS, transferred to Calvary Cemetery as its assistant manager, she realized that she had the Augustinians under her care.  “I noticed this section needed some love, and a marker to identify it as the Augustinian section,” she says.  “I conversed with Rosalie Scott, our director, to ascertain what could be done to make this section more reverent and respectful to our Augustinian friends.”  She reached out to the Augustinian she knew best: Fr. Joseph Genito, O.S.A, who she knew from her time going to the National Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia with her parents.  Fr. Joe connected her to Province Secretary-Treasurer Fr. Aldo Potencio, O.S.A. and Prior Provincial Fr. Robert Hagan, O.S.A.

The result is a beautiful new marker designating the Augustinian plot, which was unveiled at a special ceremony on Monday, June 17.  Designed in shades of slate, the marker bears the Augustinian flaming heart and the words “The Augustinians, Province of St. Thomas of Villanova – One Mind, One Heart on the Way to God.”  It is flanked by small trees and flowering bushes, giving it a garden-like feel.

Cirino said in her remarks, “We at Calvary Cemetery wanted to return the love that these Men of Heart give to the community every day.  This is a special time to honor the Augustinians and remember times when we have been served by them.  We remember the lives and works of our Augustinian friends, their accomplishments, and their commitment to God through unity, truth, and charity.”

Fr. Rob led the assembled group in prayer, reading from the Book of Revelations and blessing the plot with holy water.  “Our hearts are filled with gratitude, appreciation, and maybe still a little sadness for those people that we miss.  But let’s not let that be all we’re going to be. Be inspired!  Be inspired by those who have gone before us,” he said in his remarks.  “St. Augustine, on the death of his own mother, remarked that those who leave us in death are not gone – they’re just gone ahead of us. There’s a big difference, isn’t there, between saying goodbye and ‘I’ll see you later’?  It takes the sting out – the finality, the abruptness, the separation.  That’s what our faith shows us in Jesus Christ.”

The new sign was revealed from behind a red drape at the close of the ceremony, to much applause.  Guests then enjoyed a light lunch and beautiful souvenirs created by the cemetery for the occasion: crosses and hearts carved from olive wood, prayer cards with an image of St. Augustine, and roses to be placed on the graves of loved ones interred in the plot.  The friars’ headstones had even been freshly scrubbed by the cemetery for the occasion.

Even though Fr. Joe Genito couldn’t be there, his music echoed from speakers as guests arrived and departed.  Cirino wouldn’t have had it any other way.  “I embarked on this project at Calvary out of my respect for Fr. Joe and his brothers.  I observed the goodness in Fr. Joe and perceive the goodness in the other Augustinian priests I have encountered on my life’s journey.  These men are great men, who truly exemplify what it means to employ the charism of an Augustinian priest.  It has been an honor to collaborate with Fr. Joe, Fr. Aldo, and Fr. Rob on this memorial for our Augustinians.”

Visit the Augustinian plot in section B of Calvary Cemetery, 235 Matsonford Road, Conshohocken, PA.  View the video of the ceremony at https://youtu.be/maXulK6yUoY.