Funeral Services and Burial for 17 Aborted Babies Attended by over 1,000 People
For any of you who attended Saturday's events, no explanation is necessary; for those of you who were not present, no explanation is possible that would convey the power, love and emotion of this most extraordinary day. Only God's love can bring grace and healing where a tragedy has occurred.
I was overwhelmed with emotion throughout the day and yet I was also drawn to rest and bask in the dignity, honor, respect and love that was tangibly present. It was a God-filled day, a day of special graces that streamed forth from the heart of our loving God and also permeated the church in such waves that I cannot believe anyone present was left untouched or unmoved.
The impact for me began very early as I was arriving with my family about 10:30 AM. I truly expected to be able to park in the tiny lot across from the Cathedral, but as I turned the corner, not only was the lot already full, but the surrounding streets as well! One street was completely blocked off and already filled with 3 columns of cars while a 50 passenger bus was unloading people out front. I was deeply touched as it was clear there were going to be a lot of people present for the funeral services.
When I entered the Cathedral, it was already three quarters full with the tiny white casket containing the 17 aborted babies resting near the entrance. It was a very moving sight with more emotional and more powerful moments to come rapidly in succession throughout the entire day.
I was to be one of the four pall-bearers, and shortly after taking my position, a procession of over 80 members of the Knights of Columbus began coming into the church. Two by two, these men, dressed in their full regalia of hat, cape and plume, passed alongside me. As they passed the tiny white coffin containing the broken bodies of these tiny babies, they stopped, turned and bowed to the casket to show their respect to the dignity of these deceased infants. I could not keep the tears from filling my eyes at the honor and loving witness of these men towards these babies, something not even the mothers themselves had been capable of showing them.
Once the Knights had taken up their positions, 17 young children, each holding a single white rose, walked solemnly down the main aisle to place the roses into a vase on a stand next to the table where the casket would reside for the Mass.
After opening prayers and a blessing of the coffin, we carried the tiny casket to the front of the church as is the norm for funeral services. But in this case, the visual impact was striking as the casket was so small, resting at the foot of the burning Easter candle which symbolizes Christ, the Light of the World.
The music and singing was majestic and heart felt throughout the service, as the voices of the congregation filled the naves of the Cathedral with resounding song. The sanctuary was filled with many priests and deacons from various areas who came to participate in this solemn occasion.
The Scripture Readings were poignant with the Gospel reading pertaining to the slaughter of the innocents. Bishop Boyea's homily was insightful and moving. The prayers of the faithful offered prayers for the victims of abortion as well as for the conversion of all those participating in and procuring abortions. The entire liturgy was performed with reverence and dignity. You could feel the presence of God and His Spirit.
Towards the conclusion of the Mass, the Rev. Lawrence Gosselin and members of his congregation from the Eastern Rite Melkite Catholic Church sang a series of prayers which included the incensing of the casket. Another special and precious moment.
At the conclusion of the funeral Mass, a very long funeral procession of cars, aided by police escort and the blocking off of multiple intersections occurred to ensure the safety of all to St. Joseph Cemetery for the burial rite. Even this procession was a powerful witness as heads turned and people even came out of their houses upon witnessing such a long and extensive funeral procession of cars. I'm sure many of them watched the news that evening just to find out what dignitary must have died to warrant such a turn out of people.
For me the entire day was a beautiful experience of "Church", of being part of and experiencing the power and presence of God when his people give of themselves and their talents for the service of others. It was all very powerful and inspiring.
And then to the cemetery and the prayers of final burial. At the conclusion of the Rite of Burial we performed a special rite for those mourning the loss of a child, whether through infant death, miscarriage or abortion. This was meant to be a special moment of grace and healing for all those who continue to suffer. Fifty red roses were taken by individuals still grieving over the loss of a child and this too was a powerful and emotional grace-filled moment. After reading the passage from Luke regarding the instantaneous healing of the women who touched Jesus' garment, we offered prayers on behalf of all. In conclusion, those holding a red rose were invited to place their rose on the casket of the babies in order to unite their grief and as an expression of the love they have for their own child.
And in this occasion of grace, some did find comfort and healing. Following this service, the casket was lowered into the ground and a white dove was released.
The many details of the day were all gestures of love. Love for the least of our brothers and sisters, love for each other and love for Jesus Himself. I wish you all could have been there to experience it. To take an expression from Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, it was "Something beautiful for God".
I do not have many photos from the day, but here are just a few to share. I invite others to share their experiences of the day and their photos as well. You can just reply to this email and I will receive it and share excerpts in a future newsletter. To all those who came and or prayed for this event, Thank you.
Cars lined up - the street was a parking lot.
Tiny white casket of 17 aborted babies.
Tiny coffin before Mass was to begin, as people are arriving.
Members of the Knights of Columbus processing past the coffin.
The children gathering with their white roses.
Graveside service presided by Bishop Boyea.
Prayers for those grieving the loss of a child.
Memorial marker and filled in grave after burial ceremony.
Children placing flowers and flower petals on top of aborted babies' grave site.