2005 – 10 years ago – she died, struck by a car – Maria Skupien – walking to mass on Newark Avenue, a street she must have walked countless times during her life in Jersey City.
Earlier this year, this road side shrine was vandalized, the glass broken and the statues inside stolen. Walked by recently and noticed the shrine was restored – a new metal grate covers the glass surface, making it harder to break through. There are new statues.
The story about her death was taped to the back of the box, which I retrieved at the library. She was a mother of 11, 74 years old, trying to be a cancer survivor until fate intervened.
From The Jersey Journal article.
Maria Skupien of Pavonia Avenue was hit by a 1986 Mazda as she attempted to cross Newark Avenue about 6:20 PM.
Her son said: “his mother was on her way to 7 p.m. Immaculate Conception Vigil Mass at St. Anthony of Padua on Sixth Street. He said she was a devoted parishioner who attended Mass several times a week.”
“Jersey City and Port Authority police and off-duty Christ Hospital nurse were on the scene within minutes and attempted to resuscitate her, but to no avail. She was pronounced dead at 6:49 p.m. at the Jersey City Medical Center.
“A few hours earlier, Stanley Skupien said, he’d driven his mother home from the Bayonne Medical Center, where she was being treated for intestinal cancer. “It’s so sad,” he said, saying his mother had battled cancer for three years.
“She was a super-positive person. She was always saying I’m doing good, and kept it to herself. She never cried the blues about how she felt,” her son said.
“Reports said Skupien was dressed in a black jacket, black pants and that a street light was out near the point-of-impact.”
“Mass will be held Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. at St. Anthony of Padua Church.
A lot of things come to mind, the fact that the pedestrians are still at risk in Jersey City, and the city has done basically nothing so far to enforce speed limits (my soap box issue).
That’s just some personal noise.
I’ve seen this little shrine for years, as anyone who ever walked up Newark Avenue has. You knew it was a memorial, a fatality – you see these sort of shrines around everywhere, highways and busy streets. accidents happen, fate surprises. You know that this is a personal testament, that a circle of families and friends were in grief and needed to express their loss, and their love. The story too, walking to mass, fighting cancer, the suddenness. How many times a week did she make this same walk? Just so tragic and touching and gives us pause. We all that sorrow those responsible for this shrine and we also know, that any moment, we can be Maria.
When I blogged about the vandalism, I tried to do some research. A Jersey Journal editor told me, oh “there are millions” in Jersey City. Millions? Really. On Newark Avenue, I’ve only seen this one. But, his attitude seemed indicative of the weird attitude towards pedestrian fatalities in this town (sorry, this soap box is so persistent).
Maria Skupien, my thoughts and prayers are with you today. The shrine is no longer anonymous, I now know it’s yours.