Wheaton event brings peace, hope to people mourning abandoned baby
Dozens of people lined the main aisle of St. Michael Church in Wheaton Thursday evening, waiting their turn to light a candle.
Some wiped tears from their eyes as they watched the flame burn, the soft music of a harp echoing around them. Others walked away from the altar with an empty expression on their face, as they recalled the loss of their own child.
In the pews, husbands wrapped their arms around their wives and several women knelt in prayer.
A baby cried.
There was sadness in the air and the prayers and songs were solemn, but several area religious leaders reminded the more than 100 attendees at "An Evening of Hope" that the children everyone had gathered to remember -- including Baby Hope, the newborn girl found dead last month about a mile from the church -- were at peace with God.
Father Dan Hoehn of St. Michael Church said it is natural to grieve the loss of young, innocent lives, but the faithful need to trust they are in God's arms. The grief, he said, is "for ourselves."
"We live in a society where people don't understand love, that such a thing is possible," he said. "If only the love of our Lord became more evident in our society, what a different place it would be. May that be our task, as we continue as people of hope, that the love of Christ be more evident."
Colleen Schmitt, who lives near where Baby Hope was found, said she thought the event was beautiful.
"It gives closure for the baby," she said. "The baby's in a good place and was sent out with love."
In addition, the service brought peace to others who have lost a child or are grieving because of infertility issues.
"I am sorry for the pain and grief that you carry," said Susan Walker, founder of Rest in His Arms, the nonprofit that organized the event and has buried more than 30 abandoned babies in Illinois.
"At the same time, I am so grateful that you, in this community, have reached beyond that place of pain to claim Baby Hope as your own child. Thank you for your prayers for her and for each other."
Mourn: Baby Hope 'sent out with love'