Gone are the dreams of eye color, nose shape and personality traits that parents typically discuss prior to the birth of their new baby. Miscarriage and stillbirth rob the dreams of expectant parents. Uncontrollable tears replace the joys associated with milestones, such as first cries, first smiles, first steps and birthdays.
They are the unforgettables — infants who were deeply loved but gone too soon. Every four to six weeks, the cremains of local miscarried infants are prayerfully interred in a common grave at All Saints Cemetery in Pleasant Prairie. This is the only archdiocesan cemetery in Kenosha. They will soon have a place where they will not be forgotten — a place that brings comfort and healing to their mothers and fathers.
For the past 25 years, All Saints Cemetery has offered a plot of land for those in the community who have lost children due to miscarriages. These families can bury their unborn children at the location for no charge. A graveside service is held at the burial site by a representative from the archdiocese.
Over the years, Fr. Joseph Lappe, M.I.C., administrator at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii in Kenosha, attended many of these services. There is no marker at the site or a place to pray and sit. About a year ago, he reached out to the Knights of Columbus to see if they might erect a memorial at the gravesite so family and friends might have a place to pray for their tiny, loved ones.
According to Terry Glidden, financial secretary of Council 16765 at St. Peter Parish in Kenosha, representatives from the four Knights of Columbus councils in Kenosha began meeting on a regular basis.
“We eventually came up with a plan and a design for the memorial, which just rolled out for the general public to see,” he said. “Until I became involved in this effort, I had no clue that there was an area within All Saints Cemetery for the burial of unborn children; those who had been tragically lost to miscarriage or (due to) other non-full-term medical issues. Some of the infants buried there have memorials arranged for by their loved ones. Most are buried in an unmarked common grave.”
Dr. David Kreutz, district warden 67, deputy grand knight for Council 973, said four Kenosha councils (St. John Neumann Council 973, Immaculate Mary Council 14362, Divine Mercy Council 16022, and St. Stanislaus Papczynski Council 16765) began their efforts with the purchase of land for the monument.
“One person from each council formed the Committee of the Holy Innocents, including myself,” he said.
According to Kreutz, all four councils in Kenosha have contributed to the purchase of four gravesites overlooking the “preborn” area where the cremains are interred.
“One additional grave site was purchased for us by a generous donation from an anonymous Knights of Columbus member,” he said. “We now have a total of five contiguous sites on which to build the memorial.”
The Knights plan to erect a 130-square-foot concrete stamped area with a marble monument showing an etching of Jesus holding his hands outward toward the site. The monument will include a large marble bench, overlooking the existing 3,000-square-foot area dedicated to the internment of these infants. The site has been named, “The Site of the Holy Innocence.”
The Knights are hosting a city-wide fundraiser beginning this week and hope to raise enough funds to build the monument, according to Rich Mich, who said he feels close to the project for personal reasons.
“My baby brother, Joe, died when he was only 11 hours old and he’s buried at the foot of my grandparents’ grave, in a small white coffin. So, I (understand) how it feels to lose a small baby,” he said. “We all have known someone who has lost a baby. We have had encouraging and positive feedback, and I feel we won’t have any trouble meeting our fundraising goal of $25,000.”
Christopher Kachur said building the monument is an important mission for the Knights and reflected in the site’s name, “Holy Innocence.”
“The remains that are interred here are innocent. We (were) all conceived out of love, and we knew no wrong. These children are like all of us, children of God. From the time of our conception, we are loved. From the womb to the tomb, we are all given the opportunity to be one with our creator,” he said. “The reason these innocent children were brought home to be with God, no one truly knows. That is a mystery that only God knows the answer to. But I know one thing — these children are loved.”
If you want to help
Send donations to Knights of Columbus Assembly 1201 at St. Peter Catholic Church, 2224 30th Ave., Kenosha, WI 53144, or drop a check made out to the Knights of Columbus in the weekly parish collection basket.