Bishop James T. Schuerman celebrated Mass and performed a blessing for a monument to the unborn June 18 at All Saints Cemetery in Pleasant Prairie. (Photos by Karen Mahoney)
It’s been more than 50 years, but Lucille Baker still tears up when recalling the two babies she miscarried. With one of the two pregnancies, she was four and a half months along when she lost her baby that Oct. 12.
“I didn’t ask what they did with my babies; we just never thought to ask back then,” said the member of St. Anne Parish in Pleasant Prairie. “I have always wondered what happened to them. I never had a place to visit to mourn them, but now we do.”
Baker joined hundreds of other faithful on Saturday, June 18, at All Saints Cemetery, 3300 Springbrook Road, Pleasant Prairie, for Mass and the dedication of a Monument to the Unborn. Bishop James T. Schuerman celebrated the Mass and performed the blessing at the cemetery site, “Holy Innocence.”
“As we gather at this cemetery on this great solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, we contemplate the important corporal work of mercy: burying the dead. In particular, the burying of the cremains of infants who were, unfortunately, miscarried,” said Bishop Schuerman. “The reverent burial of cremains in this common gravesite has been going on for the past 25 years. It was Fr. Joseph Lappe, M.I.C., administrator of Holy Rosary of Pompeii Parish, who asked the Knights of Columbus to erect a monument to honor these children and provide a place for visitors to sit and pray for their loved ones lost to miscarriage.”
Every four to six weeks, the cremains of miscarried infants are interred free of charge in a common unmarked gravesite at the cemetery, which is the only archdiocesan cemetery in Kenosha. A graveside service is held at the burial site by a representative of the archdiocese.
Over the years, Fr Lappe attended many of the graveside services.
After Fr. Lappe’s request, The Knights of Columbus members quickly developed a plan and a design for the memorial. The inscription on the front reads, “But Jesus called (the infants) to him, saying, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them for to such belongs the Kingdom of God.’” (Luke 18:16) The 130-square-foot area consists of a marble monument with an etching of Jesus holding his hands outward toward the site. The monument also includes a large marble bench on each side of the image of Jesus.
Kenosha’s four local Knights of Columbus councils — St. John Neumann Council 973, Immaculate Mary Council 14362, Divine Mercy Council 16022, St. Stanislaus Papczynski Council 16765, and the Archbishop Messmer Assembly 1201 — began their efforts with the purchase of five gravesites to accommodate the stone.
Terry Glidden, faithful navigator of the Fourth-Degree Knights of Columbus, Archbishop Messmer Assembly 1201, said when they began fundraising for the monument, they expected efforts to take at least three years to raise the $25,000 needed to purchase and place the prayer site. However, to their shock, they raised the entire amount in just two months.
“The donations came from local individuals whose lives were forever changed by miscarriage. We received many personal notes from women who had miscarriages 10, 20 or 30 years in the past, their hearts still aching,” he said, voice cracking. “Many never knew what became of their child. Thanks to the many heartfelt donations, they now have a beautiful place to come and pray for their loved ones lost to this scourge.”
Amy DuCharme, All Saints Cemetery manager, said she was grateful to the Knights of Columbus for funding the monument for parents, friends and family to pray.
“You had the many hands, and loving hearts to bring us this special memorial,” she said. “All Saints is a special place for our community and our families and this monument makes it even more special.”
DuCharme also thanked Patricia Toby, a representative from Froederdt Hospital who meets with family members who lose a baby.
“The entire staff of All Saints thanks you all for your love and support, this is a very special day,” she said.
Following the Mass, Bishop Schuerman blessed the monument, and attendees, many of whom also suffered miscarriages, and placed roses at the foot of the stone and prayer bench.