Jul 12, 2013 9:05 PM by Tom McNamara
TUCSON - Here's a story about Tucson families, who tell us the sight of their loved ones' graves are causing them a new kind of grief.
So they came to the News 4 Tucson Investigators for help.
These families say they paid endowments when their loved ones were buried, so that Holy Hope Cemetery on Oracle Road would maintain the gravesite forever.
But they called the Investigators to say that's not happening. In fact, they told us the Diocese, which runs the cemetery, has left many gravesites shabby and overgrown with weeds and grass.
So we went out to take a look.
"This is what I'm talking about, OK? Gopher issues, covering mom's headstone. It's hard to come here as it is. It's very emotional. It's not good to come here. When you come here, you come to get a piece of mind, because you miss your loved ones. And, then to see this? That's disrespectful to all the families here," says Lupita Ramirez-Kakar, who has six generations of family buried here.
She says nearly 350 families have reached out to her on her facebook page, over conditions at this cemetery.
Poor conditions that they say never change.
"On my dad's, I just cleaned it like maybe three weeks ago, and the grass is overgrown like maybe six inches, and it's already over, you can't see his grave. I spend like two or three hours taking care of my parents, and people in my family that's passed away. It's taken me like two or three hours to clean it. You know, it shouldn't be that way," says Bill Grijalva, whose family members are also buried at Holy Hope.
Despite the overgrown grass, dirt patches, broken and stolen vases and cracked headstones, the families say they're not upset with the Diocese of Tucson.
"It has nothing to do with the Catholic Church. This is personal. This is - have dignity, have respect for what you're doing to us," says Ramirez-Kakar.
Holy Hope has been around for 105 years now, but their new director, Anthony Crespo, has only been on the job barely two weeks.
"All of our lot owners, we value their input. If anyone has any concerns, and comes to our office, we try to address them as quickly as we can, and do whatever possible to take care of those problems. The Bishop and the Board of Directors are very aware of these very real concerns," Crespo says.
Crespo says some maintenance projects, like irrigation repairs, are already underway.
He adds that other issues will be addressed, as families come forward now.
"There's probably no greater trust that they can place with us by allowing us to memorialize their loved ones at one of our Catholic cemeteries. We take it very seriously. We realize that this is just not a place to bury the dead, but it's a place to come remember the living," Crespo says.
Ramirrez-Kakar showed us her father's Death Certificate from two years ago. He died February 18th, but the cemetery put February 15th on his headstone. That's something she says she's been trying to get fixed for the last two years.
We'll follow progress on that situation at Holy Hope.
If you have something you'd like the News 4 Tucson Investigators to look into, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org