ASCENSION PARISH, La. (BRPROUD) – Families in Ascension Parish are seeking answers after items went missing from loved ones’ gravesites at Mt. Zion Cemetery.
Dozens in the parish are claiming that items from graves are being thrown out without any warning.
Mt. Zion is managed by The Household of Faith Church. Pastor Scott Bledsoe says they are not removing items off of graves, but family members think otherwise.
Pastor Scott says Hurricane Ida is to blame. Once Ida passed they began the cleanup process.
“We are changing where we are going to limit items that can be placed on the grave. What happened, in this case, is after the hurricane there were things all over the place and so it was just a general clean-up that may have included some personal items,” he said.
Kailie Harris lost her mother at a young age. After Hurricane Ida, she lost sentimental items including photos placed on her mother’s grave. She is digging through leftover trash to find angel statues that were once on the gravestone.
“I was very little when my mother died. I was only two years old, I don’t remember her. This was the last piece I had of her,” she said.
New rules and regulations were put in place in August that says the church can remove items from graves if it interferes with maintenance.
Brittany Surie says she wants to know why families weren’t notified.
“There are many items nailed, glued, rebarred in, that were sawed off,” Surie said.
Pastor Scott says there was a lack of communication after new regulations were in effect. He says phone service has been down since Hurricane Ida.
“We have names but we do not have addresses to a lot of the families. We’re in the process of posting the new regulations at the cemetery itself,” Pastor Scott said.
“[I feel] hurt. I am disappointed. We want to follow the rules but, give us the rules, contact us,” said Susan Harris.
Mt. Zion will be under renovations in the coming future. Pastor Scott says that will not impact those who have spots reserved. The cemetery does not plan to remove graves for renovations.
He is asking family members to contact the church for a copy of the new regulations. The Household of Faith Church contact information is available here.