“I will not forget you; I have carved you on the palm of my hand (Is 49: 15-16)”
RIVERSIDE—On March 29, St. John the Evangelist Parish in Riverside celebrated a bilingual Precious Baby Mass in remembrance of those young lives lost to miscarriage, still birth, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and abortion.
The church was filled with families, mourning the loss of their little ones while celebrating the short time they spent with their children who are now saints in heaven. Father Ed Molumby, S.T., celebrated the Mass, encouraging moms and dads to embrace these lives lost as an important part of their family. It was an opportunity for the parish community to come together and grieve together as one. After the Mass, hospitality was provided by the parish Confirmation students.
The Mass was organized by Susana and Ernesto Perez, newly established Respect Life and Pastoral Care ministers for the parish.
“You could feel the compassion and love of everybody involved,” said Susana. “My husband and I were grateful for all of the support of the Diocese and other Respect Life volunteers. Even though it was our first time doing this, we didn’t feel alone, nor did the parish community that lived the Mass.”
The Diocesan Rachel’s Vineyard Program guided the process, providing counselors and memorial gifts.
The Mass consisted of a beautiful liturgy, poems and music. Music was provided by St. John’s parish. Parents were asked to light candles on behalf of their children and place them on the altar. It was a tangible reminder of the love and loss of these children, acknowledging that their babies were safe with Christ in heaven.
Susana added that the parish pastor has been receiving many comments about the Mass. “It was not what they expected, they received healing, and hope that the parish will continue these masses.”
Sylvia Boyd, Director of Religious Education, encouraged her Confirmation students to attend the Mass.
“Our young people need to see the other side of the pro-life conversation; the grieving of families after a pregnancy loss of an unborn child either by miscarriage or abortion,” Boyd said.
The students wore red t-shirts with a quote from Pope Francis: “To change the world we must be good to those who cannot repay us.” The students arrived discreetly, demonstrating a compassionate and reverent attitude towards the grieving parents. Their prayerful presence signified what is very good about our Church and the future of our world. Sylvia continued:
“Our students are becoming beautiful young adults that want to make change and be part of the Church,” Boyd said. “Their presence signifies a message of hope.”
They prayerfully sat in their designated pews ready to provide whatever was needed, which included for a couple of them, lighting over three hundred candles.
According to the Mayo Clinic, 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage and over 23,000 families a year experience the devastating loss of stillbirth. The emotional pain can have long lasting effects on individuals and families. Feelings of anger and depression often follow. Allowing oneself to grieve can help one to accept the loss over time. Many parish communities, with the help of their Respect Life/Pastoral Care and bereavement programs can offer emotional and spiritual support.