Catholic Cemeteries offers card as a special remembrance

LISA JOHNSTON | lisajohnston@archstl.org

When Marilyn Kramer was hired as cemetery counselor at Resurrection Cemetery a year ago, she became one of the first faces families encountered.

Some of those families were there to make arrangements to bury an infant. And those were the stories that especially broke her heart.

Kramer wanted to do something more for these families, beyond the necessary paperwork that can come with making burial arrangements. So with the help of Msgr. Dennis Delaney, executive director of the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and others in her office, the staff created a special card to give comfort to those special families.

"I didn't feel like I was giving them anything," said Kramer. "The card explains that this is a sacred place, and we wanted them to know that they are being taken care of. They should take comfort knowing that their loved one is being cared for here."

The 5-inch by 7-inch card includes the mission statement of Catholic Cemeteries, which states that a Catholic cemetery is "the resting place until the day of Resurrection for the bodies of (the) faithful departed, once temples of the Holy Spirit, who are souls now with God." The card also includes a place for the family to write the name of the child and burial section. Also included is contact information for several support groups tailored for those who have lost an infant.

Kramer said she began giving the cards -- which are available at Calvary and Resurrection cemeteries, where burial arrangements are made for any of the Catholic Cemeteries in the archdiocese -- not long after Resurrection opened a new burial section for infants in October of 2012.

While Kramer is respectful of families' privacy, she said she is touched by their stories and desire to honor their babies.

"I am amazed by the mothers who make the trip right after being in the hospital," she said. "I see a lot of family support. There are grandparents who are helping make arrangements. It certainly heightens the senses of life and respect for life."

"I don't want them to think of this as the end," she said. "Sometimes it's the beginning of a new journey."

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