YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — On Sunday, Calvary Cemetery in Youngstown hosted a COVID-19 memorial prayer service to honor those lost during the pandemic and those fighting it on the front lines.
“December of last year, I lost my grandma due to COVID… very rushed. She’s buried here at Calvary,” said Struthers resident Rachel Nuzzo.
Through tears, Nuzzo shared the gaping hole that COVID has left her with.
Jenna Chmelik of Austintown said she, too, knows the feeling all too well. She also lost her grandmother to COVID last year.
“We weren’t allowed to go see her in the hospital. We weren’t allowed to be with her, so she passed away alone. We couldn’t really hold any service for her,” Chmelik said.
The memorial service allowed families a chance to come together and support each other. It gave them a chance to properly lay they their loved ones to rest, something that many unfortunately couldn’t do throughout the pandemic.
“I just want families to receive some closure and hope for the future, that it is going to be OK and to see that their loved one is laid to rest here and we’re taking care of them,” said director of cemeteries Christa Blasko.
Bishop David Bonnar of the Diocese of Youngstown led the ceremony.
“I know there’s a part of us that just would like to forget that this ever happened, but we can never forget the fact that so many lives were lost,” Bonnar said.
Bonnar said we can’t forget the many sacrifices that have been made by frontline workers.
To honor them, there was a wreath-laying ceremony for first responders, safety personnel and essential workers. The wreaths will be laid in front of a COVID-19 memorial bench that will be permanently placed in the cemetery to serve as a reminder of those lost during the pandemic.
“We move on but we never forget. We never forget what we lost and who we lost,” Bonnar said.