Newark church becomes 100th organization to endorse greenway project

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — Open Space Institute, along with the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition and September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance, have announced that St. Lucy’s Church of Newark has become the 100th agency, organization or corporation to endorse the Essex–Hudson Greenway Project. St. Lucy’s is Newark’s largest parish and home to the largest number of Spanish-speaking Catholics in the region.

For walkers, runners, cyclists, hikers and others, the proposed Essex–Hudson Greenway would create nearly 9 miles of linear park, connecting Montclair, Glen Ridge, Bloomfield, Belleville, Newark, Kearny, Secaucus and Jersey City.

“Projects that serve the community inspire many citizens. The Essex–Hudson Greenway Project will benefit not only families and other citizens, but all living beings — big and small — with whom we share this piece of good earth, Mother Earth, who supports us and our joy of life. This project reestablishes some harmony between people and ecosystems already supporting this area,” said Father Paul Donohue, pastor of Saint Lucy’s Church. “As Pope Francis suggested in his 2015 encyclical, ‘Laudato Si,’ we have a moral obligation to decipher the sacredness of the natural world, since we are part of nature. It is time to take action! As ‘Laudato Si’ mentions, there is an urgency to respect Mother Earth, our common home.

“Saint Lucy’s Church supports the greenway project and I would like to encourage others to take action on behalf of our Mother Earth by promoting this project, which is mostly self-sustainable,” he continued.

The “Encyclical Letter of the Holy Father Francis on Care for Our Common Home,” also known as the “Laudato Si,” is the 2015 encyclical and appeal from Pope Francis addressed to “every person living on this planet” to begin an inclusive dialogue about the future of our planet. Pope Francis calls for the Church and the world to acknowledge the environmental challenges of the planet and work toward a new path. 

Residents of communities all along the proposed length of the linear park have been campaigning for more than a decade to create a greenway that would serve as a “shared-use path” for people walking, riding a bicycle, running, rolling or just relaxing along this corridor. In July 2020, the Open Space Institute (OSI) reached a preliminary purchase and sale agreement with Norfolk Southern Railway Company for property in Essex and Hudson counties for the purpose of the greenway. The purchase agreement has a sale deadline of January 2022.