Miscarried children mourned at Mass

ANDOVER -- Mothers, couples and immediate or extended families of miscarried children had a chance to mourn recent and past losses at a Nov. 6 Mass, and in doing so, find spiritual consolation.

On Nov. 6, St. Augustine Parish hosted the Memorial Mass for Miscarried Children and their Families. The main celebrant and homilist was pastor Father Peter Gori. Father Paul Ring, pastor of Our Lady of Grace Parish in Pepperell, concelebrated the Mass.

"There are so many women who have suffered miscarriages and not had an outlet," said Mass organizer Kathy Sexton, who has endured five miscarriages.

Studies by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists indicate that approximately 1 in 6 "clinically recognized" pregnancies result in miscarriage.

Father Gori, in his homily, spoke about how the news of a pregnancy is always life-changing and he focused on God's mercy even amidst life's trials and tragedies.

"Life isn't without a hitch," Father Gori said. "In our experience we are reflecting on today, the hitch came all too early -- nobody's plan, so to speak. Nevertheless, life and love are all a part of it."

"God knows and loves and welcomes these children with open arms and open heart," he also said. "As he promised, he shares his mother with them too, as he shared his mother with us."

Following the homily, attendees wrote names of miscarried children on cards and placed them in a basket near the altar.

After Mass, a small group of St. Augustine parishioners gave the basket of names to the Poor Clare nuns at the nearby Monastery of St. Clare so the nuns could pray for the unborn babies during the month of November.

Among those who wrote names on prayer cards was Deniece Pendleton.

"In my day, there was nothing done when you lost your baby," said Pendleton, now 70. "There was no recognition. There was nothing."

"This brings a tiny bit of closure and softness," added Pendleton, who had three miscarriages between 1965 and 1971. "It's just been very special, very healing."

Following the Mass, Father Gori reflected on its impact on those who attended. He hoped that the Mass would help the parents and families of the child "realize what could otherwise be a lonely and painful experience can be received with love and compassion by the community in the Church."

"Part of the beauty of it is keeping it very gentle and simple too," Father Gori also said. "There's comfort in that too."