Shrine of Unborn offers dignity to those lost to abortion
St. Anthony Parish in Fredonia held a beautiful ceremony for a beautiful monument for a terrible cause. The Pro-Life Committee of Chautauqua County organized a special Mass to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Shrine to the Unborn on July 17. The shrine recognizes lives lost to abortion.
“I hope I’m not talking out of turn here. (It’s) a shrine that we wished we didn’t have to have. It’s a shrine dedicated to those who have lost their lives to abortion. Those who never had the opportunity to take a breath of fresh air in this world, but the Lord knew them even before,” Bishop Michael W. Fisher said during Mass.
After an emotionally busy day attending the funerals of Deacon James Cantella and Msgr. Dino Lorenzetti, the value of life weighed heavy on the bishop.
“Each one of these children that we remember in our shrine, we may never even know their parents or where they come from, but we remember that they are each individually children of God. They were given that spark of life in the womb of their mothers,” Bishop Fisher said.
Bishop Fisher compared the loss of these aborted children to the loss of Msgr. Lorenzetti and Deacon Cantella and pondered the potential of human beings.
“As human beings each one of us has dignity,” he said, defining dignity as the potential to contribute to society. “How many of these unborn children could have invented a cure for cancer or maybe that ailment that the deacon died from? How many of these unborn children might have gone on to be a deacon or be a priest or a religious? How many of these unborn children could have grown to find some way to bring peace between communities? All of us when we are born have that potential to contribute to the common good and to society.”
Due to air quality alerts, the outdoor Mass scheduled at St. Mary’s Cemetery, where the Shrine to the Unborn rests, was moved to St. Anthony Church.
The shrine was dedicated on July 12, 1998, by Bishop Henry J. Mansell. There is an annual observance every July.
“It was the vision of three priests, Father Gerald Sheehan, Father Robert Beiter, Father Thomas Wopperer and the Knights of Columbus to erect a monument to the unborn,” explained Pat Morelle, chairperson for the Pro-Life Committee of Chautauqua County, at the beginning of the service. “It was this vision that countless men and women joined back in 1998. Since them countless priests and individuals have joined us in prayer at the shrine. Those of you who have been with us for all of these years can remember special individuals who were strong ‘For Life’ advocates who worked with us, prayed with us, and supported the shrine. There are too many to name. May we remember all of them in our prayers tonight.”
The shrine is the burial site of Baby Jesse, an 18-20 week fetus that washed up on the shore of Lake Erie in 2014. Cheryl Calire, director of Pastoral Ministries for the Diocese of Buffalo, claimed the remains and held a dignified burial at the shrine.
“We can’t change the whole world, but we can, if we open our eyes and we open our hearts, we can each make a difference,” said Calire.
The shrine was recently renovated by the Knights of Columbus.
A reception took place in the school that included a tour of the St. Gianna Molla Pregnancy Center.Listen to Michael Mroziak’s report.