The limestone chapel at the Queen of Peace Cemetery, Long Island's first new Catholic burial ground in decades, now has two new crowns.
They are twin 65-foot high metal steeples that likely will become landmarks for any motorists on nearby Jericho Turnpike in Old Westbury, officials said on Wednesday.
The 97-acre cemetery, which opened in September 2020 after a 27-year struggle and the efforts of four bishops, will have room for 200,000 burial plots when the chapel is finished and opens next year.
"The centerpiece of the cemetery is the stone chapel, modeled after an Old World stone chapel; we wanted something that kind of fits the character of the community around it," said Richard Bie, president and CEO of Catholic Cemeteries of Long Island, referring to the classic architecture that has long graced the Old Westbury community.
"We're probably a little more than halfways through," Bie said, describing the placing of the approximately five-story-tall steeples as a "milestone."
They are being installed by The Zenith Group LLC, a Riverhead construction firm, which is managing the project.
The new cemetery opened just as Nassau's only other Catholic cemetery, Westbury's Holy Rood, was close to full — partly due to the pandemic. Catholic Cemeteries of Long Island also owns and operates two other Long Island cemeteries: Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Coram and Queen of All Saints Cemetery in Central Islip.
The new chapel, which is not yet open, in Old Westbury will display 32 stained glass windows from the Sisters of Christian Charity in New Jersey, depicting the life of Mary, mother of Jesus.
"Those windows fit beautifully into what we are trying to create in the chapel," which will hold about 200 people, Bie said.
Crafted with exceptional workmanship in Germany in the 1950s, the stained glass windows were a fortuitous find, Bie said, explaining they only found their way to Long Island because the same designer was working on both projects in New Jersey and on Long Island.
The chapel also will feature an altar set reclaimed from The Guardian Angel Chapel in Brooklyn.
This week, the chapels at the three open cemeteries will hold the Christmas Ornament Blessings "where people who lost loved ones bring special ornaments to be placed on trees..." a spokesman said.
Deacons are handling the blessings this week and next week, he said, adding that Christmas masses, suspended last year due to COVID-19, will be celebrated Dec. 4 at the three cemeteries with open chapels.