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Levittown, Pa. Company To Operate Philadelphia Archdiocese Cemeteries

By Tim Jimenez

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The Archdiocese of Philadelphia will be getting a much needed infusion of tens of millions of dollars (see related story) thanks to a long-term deal with a Bucks County company to manage its 13 cemeteries.

The archdiocese reached a deal with StoneMor Partners LP for the Levittown-based company to manage the 13 Catholic cemeteries in the area.

The company is giving the archdiocese $89 million over a 35-year period, $53 million of it up front.

"When you measure things in the hundreds of millions of dollars, those are big numbers that are going to require big actions," says archdiocese spokesman Ken Gavin, referring to liabilities such as pensions and insurance that the archdiocese has been trying to tackle.

He says the deal works out for everybody; they get their needed dollars, current cemetery staffers keep their jobs, and, most importantly he says, the cemeteries remain Catholic.

StoneMor CEO Lawrence Miller agreed.

"Our lease gives us all the risks of ownership and the rewards of ownership," he tells KYW Newsradio.  "But at the end of the day (the archdiocese) is stil the owner, and everything to do with Catholic tradition and ministry will be honored."

Miller went to a Catholic elementary school in the East Falls section of the city, and Cardinal Dougherty High School.  He adds that some of his deceased relatives are buried in Catholic cemeteries in Philadelphia.

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