BAYONNE, NJ – A symbol of honor and respect which lost its home with the closing of Our Lady of Assumption Church in December has found a new space at the Catholic War Veterans Post 1612 down the block on 23rd Street.
The black Celtic Cross monument, which had adorned the exterior of the church between Kennedy Boulevard and Avenue C since its original dedication there in 2013, was relocated to and rededicated last week in front of the CWV Post at 18 W. 23rd St., near Broadway.
A Memorial Day Mass honoring veterans was held first at St. Michael’s Church of St. John Paul II Parish two blocks away.
Following that, at the rededication ceremony, Rev. Mark DeStephano of St. Michael’s spoke and blessed the monument.
Mayor James Davis and Councilmen Tom Cotter, Sal Gullace, Gary La Pelusa and Juan Perez were among the attendees.
The monument was conceived by the late Frank Polera, an Assumption parishioner and CWV member. He worked from 2011 to 2013 to raise the $8,000 needed to create the piece, along with fellow parishioner and post member John Nicaretta, according to Michelle Burger, Polera’s daughter.
“I think the ceremony was very fitting and it was nice that the city was able to help move it over there,” Burger said. “I think it was so nice of them to take it over from Assumption so that it’s not forgotten, and so that my dad and all the members who have passed away are not forgotten.”
The monument reads, “Remembering all Catholic men and women who have served and are still serving to protect these United States of America.” It features the seals of the six branches of the U.S. military and the logo for the country’s prisoners of war and missing in action.
That the monument could find a place so close to its previous home was an added benefit for Polera’s family, city veterans and all who wish to visit it.
“It’s great that my family and I can go see it,” Burger said. “I think it looks nice there, in front of the Catholic War Vets Post.”