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Sioux City, Willey
Upcoming memorial Masses to remember babies

By RENEE WEBB, Globe editor
(Email Renee)

Two memorial Masses for babies will be held this spring in the Diocese of Sioux City.

The first will be offered at the Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City. A second Mass to be held in April in Willey will remember babies who died before birth or baptism.

Mass at Cathedral of the Epiphany, Sioux City

Sponsored by the diocese’s Office of Family Life, the Memorial Mass for Babies Who Died Before Birth at Cathedral is being offered for the third consecutive year. Bishop Walker Nickless will celebrate the 7 p.m. Mass on March 12.

Justin Frato, assistant director of adult catechesis and family life, said the Mass will have special petitions geared at those who have lost a child before birth. 

“After the homily, there will be a remembrance of each child by calling of their names.  A candle will be lit for each child, and their parents will be given a certificate or remembrance and a rose,” he said.

He pointed out that this liturgy allows individuals who lost a child before birth to grieve if they have not yet done so. 

Father Brent Lingle, diocesan director of worship, will be the bishop’s master of ceremonies for the liturgy. He is helping to plan the Mass.

He reflected on the meaning this type of service brings to parents.

“A lot of parents who lose a child before birth never get the chance to properly grieve because of the circumstance,” Father Lingle said. “In many of the cases there is not a formal funeral, formal time to mourn or ritual we go through.”

This memorial Mass, he added, provides an opportunity for people to come together and have that type of experience. Plus, they are able to share the experience with others who have gone through something similar.

“It also is a sign to all in our diocese that we see all life as worthy of celebrating and remembering, not just those who were blessed enough to have survived birth,” Frato said.

After offering this Mass for the first time two years ago, the Office of Family Life opted to continue to do so as it appears to be very healing for those who participated. 

Following the liturgy, a reception will be held in the parish hall.

If someone wants their baby recognized at the Mass, they should contact Kari Smith at (712) 233-7530 or karis

Mass at St. Mary Church, Willey

There will be a local Mass held at St. Mary’s in Willey on April 8 at 7 p.m.  Father Tim Johnson will be the celebrant.

Brenda Klein, one of the organizers, pointed out that this will be the second year Willey has hosted the memorial Mass. Last year’s event was held on the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord and so they decided to hold it on the feast day again this year.

“We had so many people that were not able to make it last year and that want to participate,” she said. “The response we had was overwhelming. People who had miscarriages, especially when it happened years ago, were never able to honor their children. Long ago it was something that had a lot of shame associated with it.”
With that in mind, when they offered this special memorial last year Klein pointed out that people were so pleased that the baby was now able to be remembered.

The Mass and ceremony in Willey is similar to that offered in Sioux City with the mother or parents provided a rose, certificate and each child is remembered.

“During the time when the names were read off last year there wasn’t a dry eye in the house,” said Klein, who described it as a very emotional and moving part of the service. “We heard comments about how they healed from that.”

In some cases, there were people who had been dealing with the pain of losing a baby for more than 40 years. She added that there was a range of older and younger mothers/couples as well as every age in between who recognized their babies, many of which had been miscarriages.

Catholics from any part of the diocese or even outside the diocese are welcome to participate in the Willey memorial service, she noted.

Anyone who would want their baby to be remembered should contact Kathy Steffen at (712) 792-0044.

A reception will be held following the Mass.

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