BOSTON – The Lazarus Program at St. Anthony Shrine, here, a ministry that buries the unwanted dead, recently held a funeral Mass for five abandoned infants.
Coordinated by Gary Convertino and Sr. Margaret Henry, the program had previously planned only funeral Masses and burials for homeless women, men and veterans, and other adults without means.
On Dec. 7, five infants were brought to the shrine for a 9 a.m. Funeral Mass. Earlier that morning, five small sprays of white roses, one for each tiny coffin, and a large spray for the altar, arrived as a gift of Jane Daly, a member of the guardians council of David Convertino, OFM.
John Jaskowiak, OFM, brought a small teddy bear and Miraculous Medal to be placed in each coffin. Since the infants had no name, except baby boy or baby girl, they were named for Franciscan saints. The five were named: Elizabeth, for Saint Elizabeth of Hungary; Anthony, for Saint Anthony of Padua; Lawrence, for Saint Lawrence of Brindisi; John, for Saint John of Capistrano; and Joseph, for Saint Joseph of Cupertino.
David celebrated the liturgy, with Dwayne Fernandes, OFM, Gene Pistacchio,OFM, Daniel Murray, OFM, Barry Langley, OFM, Hugh Macsherry, OFM, and John Maganzini, OFM, cantoring. Gary and Sr. Margaret served as lectors. In attendance was the Rev. Lucy Marshall, a Protestant chaplain at MCI Framingham, where one of the baby’s mothers is incarcerated.
During the liturgy, David said: “The Franciscan family coming together in love and dignity is an act of God which demonstrates that God never abandons us or stops loving us. As Franciscans and as Christians, we can never abandon these children, another sign that God never abandons us. Our Franciscan family now has new angels in Heaven who will pray for us.”