History & Staff

we Remember, we Celebrate, we Believe

The burial of the dead has always been recognized by the Church as a religious rite and a corporal work of mercy. Catholic cemeteries in the diocese of Albany date to the 18th century. Cemeteries were often established by parishes for their parishioners. In 1867, St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands was founded as an independent rural cemetery for Albany Catholics. Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery was established in 1924 for the use of parishes in Schenectady that did not have their own cemeteries. St. Mary’s Cemetery in Troy, a parish cemetery established in 1844, was reorganized and incorporated in the 1940s.

In 1968, the Diocesan Cemetery Office was established to mange these three cemeteries. Rev. Robert Buckley (pictured below, center) served as Assistant Supervisor and then Supervisor of Cemeteries from 1968 until his retirement in 1999. Rick Touchette has been Executive Director since 1994.

Over the years, as parishes merged and closed, the Diocesan Cemetery Office assumed responsibility for more cemeteries, and in 2009 a new corporation, The Catholic Cemeteries of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany NY (Albany Diocesan Cemeteries) was formed to manage the cemetery system.

Today, a staff of 40 dedicated professionals minister to the needs of Catholic families in 19 cemeteries in Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer, and Greene counties.

Meet Some Of Our Staff

Tina Marzano, Family Service Representative

Tina Marzano, Family Service Representative, enjoys her work in helping families select cemetery space both in an at-need situation- when a loved one has died, or in a planning ahead situation. As a Catholic Funeral Plan representative, she educates families about reducing the financial and emotional burden placed on family members while ensuring that their Rite of Christian Burial preferences are carried out.

Tina began her work with Albany Diocesan Cemeteries during summer, 2019. Prior to that she owned two full-service gyms in the Capital District, educating individuals and families on good nutrition and effective exercise programs to result in a better quality of life. She also has local and nation-wide banking Project Management and Operations Management experience.

In a previous career path, Tina had earned her certification as Project Management Professional (PMP) and served in many leadership roles for the local Albany Project Management Institute chapter. As owner of a woman-owned consulting and training company, Tina was keynote speaker at many local conferences on the topics of Leadership, Effective Communication, Customer Service, Business Etiquette and Project Management. She proudly served in many leadership roles for various organizations including Chambers of Commerce, the local Training and Development chapter as well as Business Networking chapters.

Tina enjoys spending her time volunteering at her church and other local not-for-profit organizations as well as staying active in the gym, on her yoga mat, hiking on beginner trails or riding her bike with friends.

In a nutshell Tina lives her life by remembering the words of Saint Mother Teresa: (shortened) People are often unreasonable and self-centered, FORGIVE THEM ANYWAY Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough, GIVE YOUR BEST ANYWAY

FOR YOU SEE IN THE END IT IS BETWEEN YOU AND GOD, IT NEVER WAS BETWEEN YOU AND THEM ANYWAY.

The Catholic Funeral mass has always been her favorite celebration in the Catholic church. “We are reminded of a person's baptism many years ago through the white vestments etc. and then we stand in wonder that through Christ's resurrection our beloved relative/friend now gets to enjoy the banquet of love and joy in heaven. The placing of the pall, the selection of HOPE and MERCY scriptural readings, and the crucifix placed on the casket give witness to a better life ahead for us. Working for a Catholic Cemetery allows me to bring witness of the hope of the resurrection as well as comfort and compassion to my families in a spiritual, emotional and physical way”.

Please contact Tina at [email protected] or (518) 757-1029.

J.D. Strong, Lead Family Service Representative

Serving individuals and families by selling burial space, memorialization and services.

J.D. began his career with Albany Diocesan Cemeteries in 2013. Prior to that, he spent 30+ years in a variety of finance and accounting roles with a large legal publisher.

J.D. graduated from Siena College with a B.B.A. in Accounting. He is also a graduate of the Rensselaer County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Institute. He is a past Treasurer and member of the Finance and Audit Committee of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northeast New York and has served his church as a member of the Finance Committee and Cemetery Committee.

In his spare time, J.D. is an avid golfer and enjoys rooting for his favorite basketball teams.

J.D. enjoys meeting and helping people who look to us to educate and guide them in making the choices that are best for them.

Please contact J.D. at [email protected] or (518) 350-7674.

Michael D. Conti, Family Service Representative

Prior to the start of his career with Albany Diocesan Cemeteries in 2011, Michael worked for parishes cemeteries within the Albany Diocese. He has a 34-year career in this ministry.

Outside of work Michael enjoys hiking, biking, and kayaking with family and friends.

A favorite quote “None of this is being done to us, all of this is being done for us.” keeps him centered in his work and life, reminding him that God is in control.

Some of the greatest joys in his work are working with individuals who are part of this ministry and being able to help guide families with making decisions during a difficult time. Michael is driven to educating people about the importance of planning ahead in order to take away some of the stressors of the inevitable, providing a more peaceful transition in mourning the loss of a loved one.

Please contact Michael at [email protected] or (518) 350-7673.

Lori Biskup, Family Service Representative

Lori’s ministry is in assisting families with their cemetery needs, whether it’s in a time of crisis or ideally in a planning ahead situation.

An International Business major at SUNY Plattsburgh, Lori graduated within 3 years and started a business in Chicago, IL. She also spent several years working and volunteering at Queen of All Saints Basilica, with the SPRED ministry being nearest and dearest to her heart. Lori was a proud recipient of the Black Star Project award for her ministry in volunteering with children at Escuela Inter-Americana. In 2014, Lori and her family returned to upstate NY to be closer to relatives; and began her career with Albany Diocesan Cemeteries.

Lori has participated in International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association conferences, and is a 2019 Graduate of the Catholic Cemetery Conference School of Management and Leadership at the University of Notre Dame. She currently serves as member of the diocesan Pastoral Care Commission.

In her spare-time she enjoys boxing and spin classes, practicing yoga, and living the “River Life” on the Mohawk. Her life revolves around family. She also enjoys tweaking recipes – “it took three years to perfect my Chicago style deep dish pizza recipe!”

“Truly the people whom I meet inspire me. I am sure that there was never a meeting where I didn’t gain more than I could ever give back. I’ve met people from all walks of life, and when asked what famous people are buried in our cemeteries, I simply reply, “Everyone”. I believe we are all famous in God’s eyes. Everyone has a story and I love the extra-ordinary in “ordinary” folks. I have a bucket list of people I can’t wait to meet when I get to heaven!

God sets the people I work with upon my heart. I can’t help it – I just love them. They become part of my extended family. And in my family, there is always room for one more!"

Please contact Lori at [email protected] or (518) 757-1023.

Joshua Grant, Family Service Representative

Joshua Grant grew up in Upstate NY in the beautiful Thousand Islands. Prior to beginning a career with Albany Diocesan Cemeteries in the Spring of 2019, Joshua’s background included work in the service industry and small business management, as well as work on small sustainable dairy farm making delectable cheeses.

Joshua’s deep faith called him to seek a position working within the Catholic faith, leading him to his position as a Family Service Representative, working with families at Albany Diocesan Cemeteries. Currently a parishioner at St. Joseph’s Church in Troy, he enjoys working to better serve families and individuals in need, while working under Christ’s Banner.

Joshua says his work “has not disappointed in allowing me to provide a valuable and much needed service to families in our Diocese”.

Please contact Joshua at [email protected] or (518) 350-7682.

Lisa Tedesco, Family Service Representative

Lisa works directly with families educating them on the benefits and process of planning ahead. She also supports families in decision making when dealing with the loss of a loved one.

Lisa has been with Albany Diocesan Cemeteries since Fall, 2019. Prior to that she spent 4 years working with the youth of Rensselaer County preparing them for employment.

With a degree in social work and her past work experience in community outreach, Lisa is a natural with building relationships in her daily work with the families of Albany Diocesan Cemeteries.

Lisa is a proud mother of two. She enjoys activities that involve travel, art, or music.

Lisa believes the harder you work for something the greater you will feel when you achieve it. Motivated by the stories, experiences, and strengths of the families she works with; creating relationships and meeting the needs of the families she serves are her top priority.

Please contact Lisa at [email protected] or (518) 757-1031.

Jeff Touchette, Memorial Design Specialist

Jeff has honored the legacy of many Catholic families with helping them create timeless custom designed memorials.

Jeff began his career with Albany Diocesan Cemeteries in 2014, working with families at the St. Agnes and Most Holy Redeemer offices before Albany Diocesan Cemeteries founded the Catholic Monument Design Center in 2018.

As a graduate of International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA) University and the Rensselaer Co. Chamber of Commerce Leadership institute, Jeff’s expertise and dedication lead to a 2018 Pinnacle Award of Excellence from Rock of Ages.

In his spare time Jeff enjoys coaching a Special Olympics track and softball team The Thunderbolts, as well as golfing and making pizza. Jeff is also primary caregiver to Lulu The Cemetery Cat who lives at Our Lady of Angels Cemetery and the Catholic Monument Design Center.

One of Jeff’s favorite quotes that he carries with him in his professional and personal life is “Don't let yesterday take up too much of today.”- Will Rogers

“I think we have a very important job here at the Catholic Monument Design Center. We only have one chance to be perfect and we strive to achieve that with every family.”

Please contact Jeff at [email protected] or (518) 350-7678.

Emily Simmons, Director of Sales

With more than 15 years in the not-for-profit, hospitality and event industries, Emily most recently served as Director of Programs & Strategic Partnerships for the New York State Economic Development Council before being called to Albany Diocesan Cemeteries at the start of 2021.

Emily enjoys camping, playing the piano, and spending time with friends and family, especially while enjoying a delicious meal. She resides in Clifton Park with her husband and two young children.

Please contact Emily at [email protected].

Kelly Grimaldi, Associate Director

Kelly has had a fascination with old cemeteries since she was ten years old, living in Maine. Her interest grew into a hobby that began with taking the lead on a restoration project through Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine involving a rural cemetery, a 18th century clapboard church and gravestones for Revolutionary War soldiers and their families. For over 20 years Kelly did volunteer work for many old cemeteries before deciding to return to college at the University at Albany where she completed graduate studies in history with an emphasis on material culture, burial practices and funerary art and symbolism. For over ten years she has enthusiastically taken on extensive restoration and preservation projects within Albany Diocesan Cemeteries. She also enjoys a wide variety of job duties that include producing ADC’s community educational programs in the arts and humanities.

Kelly is author of the hardcover book These Sacred Grounds: Celebrating 150 Years of St. Agnes Cemetery, released in 2017. She also created and produced 2 educational videos titled Graveside Chats Volumes I and II, sponsored in part by grants awarded from Humanities NY. In 2016, Kelly and fellow committee members received a New York State Historic Preservation Award, honoring excellence in the protection and rejuvenation of New York’s historic landmarks for the Schuyler Flatts Burial Ground Project, now known as the African Burial Ground at St. Agnes Cemetery. In 2019, Kelly’s work involving the restoration of veterans’ gravesites was awarded a national community service award from The Daughters of the American Revolution.

Please contact Kelly at [email protected] or (518) 350-7679.

Rick Touchette, Executive Director

Rick Touchette, Executive Director, is proud to be part of a team of dedicated professionals ministering to Catholic families in the Capital Region.

Starting his work in the Catholic Cemetery ministry in the Diocese of Galveston-Houston in 1983, Rick moved to the area and began working with Albany Diocesan Cemeteries in 1994. He also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa from 1978-1981.

Rick graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a B.S. in Social and Community Service, and earned an M.B.A from the University of Houston. He has served on the Board of Directors for Catholic Cemetery Conference, the New York State Association of Cemeteries (NYSAC), the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, and the Philmont Staff Association. He also served as President of NYSAC. Rick is a Certified Catholic Cemetery Executive and Certified Cemetery Executive.

Rick and his family live in the historic hamlet of Coeymans, NY. He enjoys golf, cycling, and travel.

Rick tries to uphold the values he learned as a boy: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.

“Catholic cemeteries are sacred not only because of a blessing or consecration, but also by the sacred function that it performs on behalf of the entire Christian community: it holds bodies, once temples of the Holy Spirit, until the end of time. It reminds us of the extended community of believers, a community unbroken by death, spanning the kingdom now present and the kingdom yet to come.”

Please contact Rick at [email protected] or (518) 730-0302.

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