Young people volunteer to clean cemetery Print
Written by Anna Mathie Lenshek, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019 -- 12:00 AM

Cemetery Cleanup
Young volunteers from St. Peter Parish in Ashton and St. Martin Parish in Martinsville help weed and trim the grounds at Madison's Resurrection Cemetery. (Photo by Damien Lenshek)

MADISON -- A group of young people from St. Peter Parish in Ashton and St. Martin Parish in Martinsville recently dedicated one of their last summer Saturday mornings to honoring the faithful departed buried at Resurrection Cemetery in Madison.

The group, mostly confirmandi, met bright and early on the Saturday morning. After visiting the crypt of Bishop Robert C. Morlino and praying for him together, they proceeded to weed flower beds and trim back turf that was encroaching onto the in-ground grave markers in the cemetery's lawn crypt area.

The cemetery's paid staff do their best to preserve the extraordinary beauty of Resurrection's grounds, but the needs often surpass what they can handle. They have to prioritize the burial of those who have died recently, the timely placement of their grave stones, and other essential ongoing maintenance.

This year in particular, saving the cemetery's many lovely and ancient ash trees from the Emerald Ash Borer was a top priority; manicuring the flower beds and fighting weeds had to be put on the back burner, so the help of volunteers was very welcome.

Also, as Damian Lenshek, the director of cemeteries for the diocese, pointed out to the volunteers, the work was a chance for the confirmandi to practice the seventh Corporal Work of Mercy, the burial of the dead.

Christ commanded all of us without exception to perform the Works of Mercy. They are not optional if we want to go to heaven, according to the Gospel of Matthew, 25:31-46.

Of course, we can participate in the Works of Mercy by contributing to the Annual Catholic Appeal and other charities that feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, etc., but this can feel rather abstract and distant when it's just a matter of giving money. The volunteers at the cemetery were literally getting their hands dirty to serve our beloved dead.

How you can help

You can help, too. Future volunteer days are planned.

If you are interested in helping keep any of our four diocesan cemeteries beautiful – in Madison, Beloit, or Janesville – contact Damian Lenshek at 608-812-3055 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

You can also join the Friends of the Cemetery email list at to hear about upcoming volunteer days and events.