EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 8, 2013

Church garden to honor the unborn

By Alex Lippa

---- — LONDONDERRY — St. Jude Parish is planning an unusual memorial for outside the church. The church is creating a memorial garden to honor babies never born.

“We are talking about babies who were aborted, stillborns and miscarriages,” said Ed Renfer, a parishioner at St. Jude’s.

Renfer got the idea when visiting his siblings in New Jersey and seeing a similar display at a church there.

“I just noticed that there wasn’t anything like this around here,” he said. “I thought it was simple enough.”

Renfer pitched the idea to the Rev. Robert Couto, who was very receptive to it.

“I thought it was brilliant,” Couto said. “We hope it’s part of a healing process.”

Renfer said it will start family conversations.

“We want children to ask their parents what this is all about,” he said. “Hopefully, this reaches out and touches people.”

The memorial will be built on the site of the existing garden on the north side of the church. A stone monument featuring Jesus embracing a child is planned for the middle of the garden. No names will be engraved on the stone.

“We hope this is a spot that people can come reflect and meditate on the dignity and sanctity of human life,” Couto said.

The garden will not be the first of its kind in the state. At Mount Calvary Cemetery in Manchester, they have had a memorial for more than 20 years.

“It brings a lot of healing to people,” Mount Calvary superintendent Kevin Cody said.

He said the memorial lists the first names of the babies.

“The original monument was full, so we added two additional stones,” Cody said.

He said they get interest from women who attend support groups for those who have lost children.

“Between once a week and once a month we get interest from people looking to add names,” he said.

Renfer said he’s heard nothing but positive reactions from people.

“The response has been tremendous,” he said. “Everyone thinks it’s a great idea.”

Couto said he intends to make a formal announcement to his congregation on Sunday.