Monday, November 05, 2007

Ceremony remembers lost infants

Parents gather at Resurrection Cemetery for 10th annual Memorial Tree Prayer Service

PEORIA - During her first year of marriage in 1958, Eleanor Driscoll gave birth to a stillborn baby.

"At the time I thought 'I'll never have a baby,'" she said. "But then I had five more, all good, healthy kids."

Driscoll of Peoria and her husband Jerry attended the 10th annual Memorial Tree Prayer Service on Sunday at Resurrection Cemetery on Allen Road.

The service remembered infants lost during pregnancy or infancy.

Driscoll said she and her husband attend the service every year as a "remembrance."

A short prayer and hymnal service lead by the Rev. William Miller of the Rosmini House in West Peoria helped provide solidarity for those in attendance.

About 30 white bows were hung on an evergreen tree, lit at night by small flood lights surrounding its base.

The white bows represent the purity of the infants' hearts and will remain on the tree until January, founder Irene McMenamin said.

McMenamin of Peoria started the service 10 years ago with the help of the Catholic Women's League of Peoria and Elizabeth Ministry.

She suffered five miscarriages as a young woman, and lost another child at six months due to a cardiac condition. One of her sons also suffered from spina bifida, a spinal chord disorder, and had a condition were fluid accumulates in the brain. He died at the age of 27.

"... There is a lot of grieving - both for the mother and the father," she said. "If there are other siblings, they also feel it - it hurts."

Bill Berlinger attended the service with his wife, Patty, and their three children in remembrance of a miscarriage 15 years ago.

"It reminds us that when we lose someone, they're still out there," he said. "Our family is larger than what is with us every day."

McMenamin handed service responsibilities over to Patty Berlinger and her sister Erika Walters on Sunday.

"It's grown a lot," said McMenamin's daughter Joyce Anderson of Roanoke. "There were some people here that weren't here in past years."

Ed McMenamin can be reached at 686-3196 or .


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