PINE BLUFF -- St. Mary Parish in Pine Bluff is set to host a ceremony for the naming and commendation of miscarried and stillborn babies on Friday, Oct. 14. The ceremony begins at 6 p.m. and will feature Mass, 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.
This fall's ceremony will mark the third annual naming and commendation event hosted by Fr. Rick Heilman, pastor of St. Mary Parish and St. Ignatius Parish, Mount Horeb. Following the ceremony, participants are invited to pray at the Miracle of Life Rosary Garden. Father Heilman has described the Rosary Garden as "a sacred space where Catholics can come to honor the sanctity of life."
While the Rosary Garden honors the dignity of all human life, it has a special meaning for families who have lost children before birth. The center of the garden serves as a burial place for these babies. Since the unique site was dedicated by Bishop Robert C. Morlino in May, families from across the diocese and even from across the state have contacted Father Heilman for information about burying their children there. St. Mary's Hospital in Madison now offers it as an option to patients who miscarry.
The naming and commendation ceremony takes the place of the regularly scheduled Knights of Divine Mercy first Friday gathering. Father Heilman has encouraged the Knights and their families to attend the event in keeping with their mission of protecting the dignity of women and children.
This year's ceremony will mark the second October in a row in which Laura Karlen will honor the memory of a miscarried baby. "The Church teaches us to entrust children lost before birth to the mercy of God," Karlen said. "In hosting the Naming and Commendation Ceremony, Father Heilman has blessed the Diocese of Madison with a tangible way to put that beautiful theology into practice. I hope all who have suffered this sort of loss will attend and find some measure of peace."
For more information on the naming ceremony or the Miracle of Life Rosary Garden, contact St. Mary Parish at 608-798-2111 or visit RosaryGarden.org