Archdiocese to hold first Day of Remembrance for babies lost to abortion

Two parishes to hold memorial services Sept. 10

Roxanne King

Unnamed and largely unknown, more than 3,300 babies are lost to abortion every day in the United States, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

To honor these innocents, recognize their human dignity and build awareness of the number of lives lost—more than 1.2 million a year in the U.S.—the Archdiocese of Denver will observe its first National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children with a prayer service 11 a.m. Sept. 10 at Sacred Heart of Mary Parish’s Memorial Wall for the Unborn.

The ashes of some 5,500 aborted babies are buried at the parish’s Memorial Wall, located at 6379 S. Boulder Road, Boulder.

“It’s the most historic and poignant place of burial for aborted children in the entire metro-Denver area,” said Lynn Grandon, Respect Life program director.

All are invited to the prayer service, which will include a blessing of the site, Scripture readings and a talk about the Memorial Wall by Susie LaVelle, who co-founded it and oversees the ministry.

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A memorial service honoring the lives of unborn children lost to abortion will be held at Sacred Heart of Mary parish in Boulder Sept. 10, which is a National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children. The service will take place in front of the Memorial Wall for the Unborn, a monument constructed on the parish cemetery and dedicated in 2000 as a sign of remembrance for those unborn children who were lost to abortion. (Photo by Neil Chen)

Dedicated in 2000, burials of aborted children started in the parish cemetery in 1996 when a Boulder mortuary contacted the parish asking if it would bury human remains it had received from a local abortion clinic that specialized in late-term abortions. Colorado law requires “incineration or internment” of recognizable human remains and forbids such remains from being dumped in landfills. Chuck Myers, the Seventh Day Adventist director of the mortuary at the time, recalled for the National Catholic Register the first experience working with the abortion clinic’s remains.

“[The clinic] told us it was ‘tissue,’ but it wasn’t,” said Myers. “I won’t get specific, but what we saw was very disturbing to our staff. It was just very hard.”

Former Sacred Heart of Mary pastor Father Andrew Kemberling told Myers the parish would bury the remains, which it did under a statue of the Risen Christ in the church cemetery. The parish periodically buried remains from the mortuary for two years, until Myers moved to a different mortuary. In 2001, another mortuary contacted the parish with the same request and the burials resumed for another four years. Today, individual burials of aborted children continue at the site, as well as burials of babies lost to stillbirth and miscarriage. Mass burials are available upon request.

“Those folks [at Sacred Heart of Mary] are so faithful to do what they did and to honor the lives of those children who otherwise would be unknown,” Grandon said, adding that Father Kemberling, Father Dorino DeLazzer who co-founded the wall, and current Sacred Heart of Mary pastor Father Cliff McMillan, will all take part in the liturgy.

Those folks [at Sacred Heart of Mary] are so faithful to do what they did and to honor the lives of those children who otherwise would be unknown.”

The Memorial Wall for the Unborn bears brass plates with the names of babies lost through abortion, stillbirth and miscarriage. Naming an unborn child, LaVelle said, both honors the child and helps grieving parents heal and find forgiveness.

“It’s a holy moment when a woman finds that she has been forgiven by God and that she has a child waiting for her in heaven,” said LaVelle, who received Endow’s Julia Greeley Award in 2006 primarily for her work with the Memorial Wall.

Boulder’s Memorial Wall for the Unborn and the Memorial for the Unborn at St. Louis Parish in Englewood are among 50 such gravesites across the United States. (A rosary, which is open to all, will be prayed at 10 a.m. Sept. 10 at St. Louis’ memorial, located at 3310 S. Sherman St., Englewood.) There are an additional 558 memorial sites honoring aborted children across the nation, including five at parishes in the archdiocese.

LaVelle has said most people in the archdiocese are likely unaware that the abortion burial ministry exists at the Boulder parish. Organizers hope the prayer service will raise awareness of the ministry among all those seeking healing from the loss of an unborn child.

“We’d like to make this an annual event,” Grandon said.

The first National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children was held September 2013 in Milwaukee, Wis. Always held on the second Saturday in September, some 129 memorial services are scheduled across the country this year.

Memorial Service

Sat., Sept. 10, 11 a.m.
Sacred Heart of Mary Cemetery
6379 S. Boulder Road, Boulder

COMING UP: Planned Parenthood surrounded in prayer for over an hour

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Planned Parenthood surrounded in prayer for over an hour

More than 1,800 faithful participate in March 5 procession

Aaron Lambert

It was a powerful, solemn scene at Planned Parenthood in Stapleton on Saturday morning as Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila led some 1,800 Catholics in a Eucharistic procession seven times around the abortion clinic, essentially surrounding the facility with silent prayer for over an hour.

“It was truly a moment of grace, a moment of blessing, a moment of praying to our Lord that hearts may be changed,” Archbishop Aquila said. “It was wonderful to see how many turned out today.”

The archbishop announced his intention to lead the procession in mid-February, and the response to the event was overwhelmingly positive, said Karna Swanson, the communications director for the archdiocese.

 

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Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila led a Eucharistic Procession around the Planned Parenthood in Stapleton on March 5. It was a solemn moment of silent prayer that drew 1,800 faithful. (Photo by Andrew Wright/Denver Catholic)

“We set up a simple website with a no-nonsense invitation for people to come and pray with the archbishop, and immediately we were hearing from people just thanking the archbishop for doing this,” Swanson said.

“No shouting or arguing,” the Archdiocese of Denver website stated in describing the event. “Only prayerful witness to the love and mercy of God.”

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Fitting 1,800 people onto the sidewalk of a city block was a logistical challenge for the organizers of the March 5 Eucharistic procession around the Planned Parenthood in Stapleton. (Photo by Andrew Wright/Denver Catholic).

To ensure the sacred nature of the Eucharistic procession, the archdiocesan liturgy office set the tone for the event and organized the logistics of the transferring the Eucharist to the site, in addition to providing prayer books for those in attendance.

Before the procession began, Father Scott Bailey addressed the crowd and emphasized the importance of silence. “Silence is an essential part of the procession as we unite our voices with those who have been silenced by abortion,” he said.

 

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A police officer watches over 1,800 faithful participate in the March 5 Eucharistic procession around the Planned Parenthood in Stapleton. (Photo by Andrew Wright/Denver Catholic).

Seminarians from St. John Vianney Theological Seminary led the people in the hymns and prayers each time the procession passed around the building. They also assisted with crowd management.

“We were honestly expecting 500-800 people,” Swanson noted. “Three times that number showed up. This provided a bit of a challenge for us logistically, as 1,800 people don’t exactly fit on the sidewalk of a city block.

“We wanted to make sure everyone who wanted to participate could, but we also didn’t want to give any reason for the police department to shut the event down.”

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Many of the 1,800 faithful at the March 5 Eucharistic procession around the Planned Parenthood in Stapleton were seen praying the rosary as they walked. (Photo by Andrew Wright/Denver Catholic)

Though the procession spilled out into the street, local off-duty police officers were on-hand to ensure that it didn’t impede traffic or cause an inability for cars to enter or leave the facility.

“There was wonderful teamwork on the ground, between the seminarians, the AMDG Cycling group, the police officers, and the participants,” said Swanson. “It was obvious to all that we were just there to pray. And pray we did, nearly everyone in the crowd was holding a rosary in their hands, and small groups throughout the crowd were praying the rosary together. We definitely stormed heaven with our prayers.”

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The AMDG Cycling club volunteered at the March 5 Eucharistic procession to help keep the overflowing crowds from impeding traffic. (Photo by Andrew Wright/Denver Catholic)

Families with young children were well-represented in the crowd, as well as religious sisters. The Nashville Dominicans, the Sisters of Life and the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo were all present. Dozens of seminarians were on hand from both of the seminaries of Denver, as well as many members of the clergy.

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The Nashville Dominicans were one of several orders of religious orders that attended the March 5 Eucharistic procession. Others included the Carmelite Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, the Sisters of Life and the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo. (Photo by Andrew Wright/Denver Catholic)

The Martinez family from St. Augustine Parish in Brighton was one of many families in attendance. Jaime Martinez, along with his wife, children and parents-in-law, came to the procession to pray as a family for the end of abortion.

“We came here to speak for the unborn children who are getting aborted every single day here, and to pray for those mothers who are thinking about aborting their children so they can think about walking a different path and choosing a different option,” Martinez said.

He added, “It was very touching to see a lot of people join forces to promote the pro-life movement. Hopefully we can see more of this in future.”

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The Martinez family from St. Augustine Parish in Brighton was one of many families in attendance. Jaime Martinez, along with his wife, children and parents-in-law, came to the procession to pray as a family for the end of abortion. (Photo by Andrew Wright/Denver Catholic)

Sam and Amber Bittner came with their two children, Matthew and Evelyn, as well as coordinating “Respect” and “Life” shirts. For the growing family—Amber is expecting their third child—they were there to “bring some joy.”

“We need to bring some joy into the situation, and show that we care, and that we love,” Sam told the Denver Catholic. “And it’s not just ‘you’re wrong.’”

“We came as a witness to our kids,” added Amber. “We wanted to show them that it’s really important to be involved to pray for those who are making the decisions, and also for the babies.”

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Photo by Andrew Wright/Denver Catholic