Archdiocese of Newark Auxiliary Bishop Manuel A. Cruz blesses the new COVID-19 memorial at Immaculate Conception Church in Montclair. (Courtesy of Archdiocese of Newark)

Archdiocese of Newark Auxiliary Bishop Manuel A. Cruz, D.D., Vicar for Essex County, recently unveiled and blessed a new memorial dedicated to the nearly 7 million victims of the global COVID-19 pandemic outside Immaculate Conception Church in Montclair.

The monument—one of the first of its kind in North Jersey—was commissioned by the parish to be a central place for all to pray for those who succumbed to the coronavirus. Located on Munn Street, it features a statue of the Virgin Mary gazing upward to Heaven with her hands clasped over her heart. Beneath this statue is a plaque affixed to a stone base that reads, “In Remembrance of All Who Died of COVID-19, 2020-2022, May They Rest in Peace.” 

Dozens of people, including some families of coronavirus victims, watch as Archdiocese of Newark Auxiliary Bishop Manuel A. Cruz blesses the new COVID-19 memorial at Immaculate Conception Church in Montclair. (Courtesy of Archdiocese of Newark)

“This memorial will allow us to reflect daily on the beauty and preciousness of earthly life while at the same time realizing that our earthly journeys, if well-lived, will lead us to God’s glory in his kingdom,” said Father Benny Prado, pastor of Immaculate Conception Church. “This memorial, in a spiritual sense, seeks to unite Heaven and Earth, joining together both human and divine love.”

The new COVID-19 memorial at Immaculate Conception Church in Montclair was commissioned by the parish to be a central place for all to pray for those who succumbed to the coronavirus. (Courtesy of Archdiocese of Newark)

At the time Essex County stopped issuing daily coronavirus reports in May, Montclair had a total of 9,389 recorded COVID cases and 93 COVID-related deaths since the start of the pandemic. On a global scale, COVID-19 is responsible for 6,978,175 total deaths as of November, according to the World Health Organization. Immaculate Conception’s parish community hopes the monument will help these victims’ loved ones grieve over their losses. Many victims’ families have already visited the memorial, including several who attended Bishop Cruz’s blessing.

For more information about Immaculate Conception Church, part of St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish, visit www.iccmontclair.org.

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