They are the unforgettables — babies who were deeply loved but gone too soon.
Prayerfully, every four to six weeks, the cremains of local miscarried infants are interred in a common grave at All Saints Cemetery in Pleasant Prairie. It is the only Archdiocesan cemetery in Kenosha. Soon they will have a place where they will not be forgotten and 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. Their 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, Rev. Joseph Lappe, M.I.C., administrator at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii, 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 grave site 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, 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, explained that the four Knights of Columbus 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, which also included myself,” he said. It included Rich Mich, Grand Knight for Council 16022; Terry Glidden, financial secretary for Council 16765; Chris Kachur, Grand Knight of Council 14362; and Father Joseph Lappe, M.I.C., at Holy Rosary Catholic Church.”
According to Kreutz, all four councils in Kenosha have contributed to the purchase of four grave sites 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,” he said.
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 the infants. The site has been named, “The Site of the Holy Innocence.”
The Knights have been hosting a city-wide fundraiser this week and hope to raise enough funds to build the “Monument to the Unborn,” explained 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 explained that 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 explained. “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.”
The memorial site is a small, but tangible means for the Kenosha Knights of Columbus Councils to provide families of the innocent children a place to come and sit, to pray, meditate and talk to their babies.
“It is my hope that the parents of the children will come here, visit, and find comfort from the grief that comes from losing a loved one — especially a loved one so young, holy and innocent,” he said, adding, “Eternal rest grant unto them and may perpetual light shine upon them.