BOSTON — While most people were setting up their crèche decorations awaiting the baby Jesus, 16 people attended a Mass at St. Anthony Shrine for two stillborn infants who were abandoned.
The Mass was part of the shrine’s Lazarus Program that honors death with dignity by providing Masses for abandoned stillborn babies, who the friars named Andrew and Nicholas, among others. These were the fifth and sixth abandoned infants prayed over this year. The program, which also provides burials for the homeless, the poor, those who die alone, or whose family cannot afford funeral services, was recently featured in the Boston Globe andBoston Herald.
In his column in the Boston Herald, Peter Gelzinis described the Dec. 14 funeral Mass for the babies that included a solo of “Go and Sleep my Son; Go and Sleep in Peace.”
Shrine director David Convertino, OFM, gave the homily, while Gary Maciag, OFM, prayed at the gravesite, saying, “The life given to Andrew and Nicholas by their parents is not destroyed by death.”
In his homily, David said: “While I believe God has welcomed these babies into his kingdom, I am sure God did not want them to die right now so that He could have them there. God does not will grief and pain. But God is with us in the midst of all the pain and tears.”
The Boston Globe also covered the story with descriptive language. Columnist Brian McGrory wrote: “Dim light filtered through a wall of stained glass and flattened along the dark hardwood floors of the room where 16 people, some of them in brown robes and sandals, waited for the proceedings to begin. A clear vase held an elegant bouquet of white flowers; the altar was made of simple wood; a woman sang hymns in an angelic voice.”
The story continued: “At the center sat two tiny caskets covered with one white cloth, each topped with a spray of fresh flowers and a small stuffed bear that had never been touched by a child’s hand.”
The Globe ran a photo of the tiny casket draped in white, while the Herald featured a photo of Gary.
The Lazarus Program was established in 2004 by then staff member Gary Convertino.