Along with offering assistance to the leaders of more than 130 memorial services held this past Saturday, September 13 to mark the National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children, the Pro-Life Action League also spearheaded the planning for the service at the final resting place of 2,033 aborted babies at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois.
The League’s executive director, Eric Scheidler, served as master of ceremonies and began the event by leading the crowd of 300 faithful pro-lifers in reciting the Prayer at a Gravesite of the Unborn [PDF] composed by Father Frank Pavone specifically for the occasion. The mourners then invoked the intercession of the Mother of God by singing the Salve Regina—an especially appropriate selection, considering the cemetery’s name—led by the Holy Innocents Choir from St. John Cantius Parish in Chicago.
Our first speaker was the League’s Vice President Ann Scheidler. Ann recalled her involvement in the recovery of the bodies of aborted babies like the ones buried at Queen of Heaven Cemetery:
It is very good that we come here. Actually until last year I had not come back since the burial in 1988. I don’t know how many people may have come here to pray over the years. Some people may have just come across this marker and were moved to offer a prayer for the aborted children and for their mothers and fathers. It is important that we remember them. They are just a few of the thousands upon thousands who have been discarded over the past forty-one years. Many of us think about them often because we are involved in fighting abortion. But to come here where some of them are buried is especially meaningful. It helps us remember them as individual human beings whom God called into life and the world did not accept.
After Ann’s moving testimony, we were honored to hear from Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago. The Cardinal praised the pro-life movement for speaking the truth in love for all these decades of legal abortion in our country.
Lamenting the weakening of the protection of life in our legal system, Cardinal George said:
A system of laws is judged good to the extent that it protects those who cannot protect themselves. That’s the purpose of law. People’s lives are now protected only so long as they have the physical or political power to protect themselves. Our coutnry has lost a once good and decent legal system because of the decisions of the Supreme Court and various legislative moves, and the support for abortion among so many in government and public life.
Joe Scheidler, the League’s founder and National Director, then led the gathered faithful in a Prayer of Mourning for the Victims of abortion, penned by Ann for the inaugural Day of Remembrance last year. Read the full text of that prayer here [PDF].
Next, John Morales, former sports broadcaster and producer of the pro-life film “40,” shared his story of paying for a girlfriend’s abortion in his youth, and the beautiful story of healing that came with adopting a son later in life.
The final speaker of the afternoon was Mary Griffith, director of Woman’s Choice Services pregnancy center in nearby Lombard, Illinois. Mary spoke of the abortion she procured after a horrible rape, and encouraged all the gathered faithful to rise up and do what they can as an individual to stop abortion in their own sphere of influence.
As Eric Scheidler closed the program, he called our minds to the future, when abortion will once again be abolished in our nation. The mourning we do today, he said, will teach future generations how to mourn the staggering loss of life abortion has caused, and to never forget the barbaric practice that we are currently fighting.
At the conclusion of the service, the choir sang “Coventry Carol,” a 16th century English Christmas carol that mourns the death of the Holy Innocents. To the strains of, “That woe is me, poor Child for Thee! And ever mourn and sigh,for thy parting neither say nor sing, bye, bye, lully, lullay” pro-lifers brought roses to lay on the gravesite. Many knelt in prayer and mourned the loss of these 2,033 babies and the 56 million who have been killed nationwide since Roe v. Wade.
After the service was over, a woman approached Eric Scheidler and shared with him that she had just found out a few days previous that her daughter had recently had an abortion. She said that the memorial service had allowed her to mourn the loss of her grandchild and find healing she otherwise may not have found.
This is one of many similar stories we’ve heard from around the country from people affected by abortion and we’re pleased that the National Day of Remembrance has borne this kind of fruit. It was also a joy to see increased attendance at the Day of Remembrance, both here in Chicago and nationwide.
We look forward to seeing even more people come out, more healing, and more hearts broken over the sin of abortion as the National Day of Remembrance continues to grow in the years to come.