Cemetery board reaffirms flag ban
By William k. Alcorn
Gravesite flags are permitted and encouraged, the administrator of St. John Church said.
CAMPBELL — A ban on U.S. flags around the perimeter of St. John the Baptist Church Cemetery was reaffirmed by the church cemetery board.
Some military veterans and Catholic church parishioners have said they are upset by the board’s decision earlier in the year to prohibit the flags.
The board’s decision does not apply to gravesite flags traditionally placed by veterans organizations, however. Those flags are not only permitted, they are encouraged, said the Rev. John M. Jerek, administrator of St. John Church.
Father Jerek said a flagpole and a large American flag will be erected near the cemetery chapel with a small garden placed around it and a memorial plaque honoring those who had donated the flags, to be installed this spring. Also, he said the military flags by the cemetery mausoleum will remain.
Father Jerek said a new cemetery board, expanded this year from five to 10 members, decided that the large number of flags displayed around the cemetery compromised the Catholic identity of the cemetery.
St. John Cemetery, on Villa Maria Road in Coitsville, has been owned and operated by St. John the Baptist Church in Campbell for 90 years, he said.
But John Macabobby, a World War II Navy veteran, said he does not understand how American flags detract from the Catholic identity.
He said he has received letters and petitions with 500 signatures protesting the cemetery board’s stance.
Macabobby, a member of VFW Post 7538 in Struthers and St. Michael Byzantine Church in Campbell, said the first 50 flags were dedicated Dec. 7, 2002, and the number grew to 174.
The church should either let the flags be flown or pay the money back to those who donated the funds for the flags, he said.