People petition against St. Genevieve Church after removal of burial site memorials

St. Joseph's Cemetery

Some people in Las Cruces are petitioning against the St. Genevieve Catholic Church.

They say the church just started enforcing revised rules and regulations that allow the removal of burial site memorials.

St. Genevieve Church owns both the San Jose and the St. Joseph cemeteries.

Families with loved ones buried there tell CBS4 Local they were heartbroken when they found out the church was removing and throwing away items they placed for their family members.

Adam Marrujo says families should have a right to honor their loved ones.

Last week, he came to repaint stones around his sister's grave in St. Joseph Cemetery.

He said when his mother came to visit the very next day, the stones had been removed.

“There was a note that said the rules and regulations changed in 2009. My sister was buried in 2007,; if they revised the rules in 2009, they never notified us about any rule change. Those bricks have been there for years,” Marrujo said.

Marrujo’s grandparents are also buried in St. Joseph Cemetery.

He placed an American flag for his grandfather, who was a WW II veteran, and flowers and angels for his grandmother.

But he says those items were gathered, and just tossed on their gravestone.

Louis Roman is the parish administrator of St. Genevieve Church.

“I would certainly ask them to go back and refresh themselves on what they originally signed for in their agreement,” Roman said.

Roman also said that the church has the right to remove stones that border the graves because it doesn’t allow tractors to move through the aisle to bury others.

He adds that American flags will also be removed from graves if they are placed on days when flags shouldn’t be flown.

“If something is damaged in that process because someone has violated the rules or has done something against the rules, then I’m sorry that happens, but we need space,” Roman said.

Rachel Gutierrez has her grandmother, mother, brother, and aunt buried in the San Jose and St. Joseph cemetery.

She says her grandmother's grave was run over by a car that plowed through the San Jose cemetery earlier this year.

She says it isn’t fair that the church is willing to remove items from graves that are kept up but the church hasn’t cleaned up the debris from her grandmother's grave.

“Those bricks are still laying there. Why not clean those things up? Why to take care of things like that? Why are you interfering with someone's gravesite?” Gutierrez said.

The parish administrator says flowers and artificial flowers are allowed but will be thrown away if withered or faded.

Roman says any other items that are placed on graves and can be blown away will be removed or thrown away by the church.

The Marrujo family has started a petition that has been signed by more than 550 people.

The petition is to stop the removal of burial site memorials at the San Jose and St. Joseph cemetery.

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