Chicago Catholics bury the remains of 39 unborn babies and 163 indigent people in annual ceremony

By Dave Andrusko

Kevin Jones of The Catholic News Agency wrote a lovely story about the tradition begun by the late Cardinal Francis George of providing a proper burial for the remains of aborted babies and indigent people.

Father Lawrence Sullivan “led Catholic funeral rites for the bodies of 39 unborn babies and the cremated remains of 163 indigent people, which were to be interred at the cemetery,” Jones reported, “Auxiliary Bishop Andrew P. Wypych, the episcopal vicar of the area, blessed the remains.”

Since 2012 “the archdiocese’s Catholic cemeteries have hosted more than 30 group burials to help lay to rest 4,484 people: 1,496 unborn babies and 2,988 adults. Some of the indigent adults were homeless and some were unidentified.”

Fr. Sullivan, director of Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Chicago, said at the October 26th service, “These are sisters and brothers. These are extended family members.” Fr. Sullivan said it’s important “to recognize the face of God not only in the beauty of nature but in the faces of all those who we meet,” Jones reported.

Sullivan added, “We not only remember these souls who have returned to God but all who are suffering, all who are feeling alienated, all who are feeling alone.”

“We pray especially for those who have died before birth, and those who are known to God alone,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “We pray for those who mourn. Comfort them in their grief.”

County commissioners, elected officials, county employees, funeral workers, cemetery staff, and others helped with the burials and were thanked by Fr. Sullivan.

“Your efforts have allowed us to be of service to these, our neighbors, seeing the face of God in each one of them, and to perform the most sacred corporal work of mercy, and our combined mission: to bury the dead,” he said.