PINE BLUFF -- St. Mary Parish will host the second annual ceremony on Sunday, Oct. 10, for the naming and commendation of infants who have died before birth. The ceremony begins with Mass at 6 p.m. and is followed by a naming ceremony in church and a reception in the church narthex.
The Knights of Divine Mercy Schola, directed by Aristotle Esguerra, will provide music for the liturgy. Participants are welcome to pray at the new Miracle of Life Marian Shrine afterward.
The shrine, which opened earlier this month, aims to serve as a prayerful place to commemorate the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. It also serves as a burial place for children who died before miscarriage and includes a Rosary garden, a monument to Mary, and a waterfall. A Stations of the Cross will be installed at a later date.
Fr. Rick Heilman, pastor of St. Mary Parish and St. Ignatius Parish, Mount Horeb, designed the Miracle of Life Shrine.
"We're creating a sacred space where Catholics can come to honor the sanctity of life," Father Heilman said. "While we go pray and witness at many ugly places like abortion mills, buildings where unethical research takes place, and the Capitol, it's also important to pray from a place of great beauty where we can meditate on the majesty of the Lord who has created all life."
Laura Karlen, whose pre-born daughter Gianna will be the first child laid to rest at the shrine, said the naming ceremony and the shrine will be a great blessing for the Catholic community.
"So many women have suffered miscarriages, but until now we haven't had a place we can go to give our children the dignity of a Christian burial," she said. "Our culture doesn't afford us the opportunity to grieve life lost in the womb. Now families from all across the diocese have a place to go to find healing."
The shrine was completed this month, and an official dedication is scheduled for May. The project is funded through the sale of engraved bricks that honor living or deceased loved ones. Bricks in memory of miscarried babies will be placed at each child's burial site, and the rest will line the walking path that surrounds the shrine.
The cost for a four inch by eight inch brick is $100, and the cost of an eight inch by eight inch brick is $200. To order a brick, call St. Mary Parish office at 608-798-2111.
For more information on the naming ceremony or the shrine, contact Jeff Mahoney at 608-347-3891.