Lisa Kochanowski
Assistant Editor/Reporter
September 26, 2023 // Diocese

Impactful Experience Inspires Monument to Unborn Children

Lisa Kochanowski
Assistant Editor/Reporter

All Souls’ Day 2022 had a lasting impact on Cindy Robertson and her husband, Jeff Robertson. Cindy is a board member of the Holy Innocents Pro-Life Action Group of Elkhart County. The couple attended an evening outdoor Mass at St. Vincent de Paul Cemetery in Elkhart and were invited to a special recognition event in honor of the infant souls who have passed.

“At the end of the Mass, Father Craig Borchard, Pastor at St. Vincent de Paul, invited those who wished to stay to participate in a lighted procession to inter the cremains of the unborn children who had passed away during that year,” Cindy said. “By this time, the sun had set, and it was dark out. We elected to participate and were deeply touched by the solemn reverence as we sang and prayed together along the way to the burial site. A further invitation was given to all those who wished to stay for the actual burial, and, again, Jeff and I chose to remain. The small box was placed into the prepared grave, after which the kind man [the gravedigger] shoveled and tamped the earth over the little ones in a holy, alternating rhythm until the burial was complete. Father Craig and those in attendance held a silent vigil throughout the process and then quietly left.”

Provided by Cindy Robertson
Members of the Holy Innocents Pro-Life Action Group of Elkhart County pose for a photo on Friday, August 25, following a ceremony to dedicate the new Monument to Unborn Children at St. Vincent Cemetery in Elkhart. The event was officiated by Father Craig Borchard. Wearly Monuments of Osceola made and installed the monument.

Days later, regular in-person meetings resumed for the Holy Innocents group after the COVID-19 lockdown. At the meeting, the group prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet, asking for the Lord’s guidance concerning the direction of activities for the group.

“Before adjourning, we decided that we would all go home and pray for this specific guidance,” Cindy Robertson said. “That very night, guidance was given to honor God’s littlest ones with a monument, which would also provide a sacred place for grieving families. This proposal was brought before the Holy Innocents Board, and all agreed to proceed with this project.”

Ahead of Respect Life Month, celebrated by the Church every October, the Monument to Unborn Children at St. Vincent Cemetery was dedicated on Friday, August 25. Wearly Monuments of Osceola made and installed the monument, which cost slightly more than $4,000. Two fundraisers – a carnation sale on Mother’s Day, and a spiritual bouquet card sale on Father’s Day – were held at all four churches in Elkhart County to help pay for the monument: St. Vincent de Paul and St. Thomas the Apostle in Elkhart, St. John the Evangelist in Goshen, and St. Mary of the Assumption in Bristol.

“For over three years, I’ve had the honor of partnering with Brad Billings on this spiritually impactful project,” said Dorinda Dietz, Funeral Director at Billings Funeral Home and a new member of the St. Vincent de Paul Cemetery Board.

“When the House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1337 was amended in 2020, which mandates a dignified disposition for miscarried, aborted, or stillborn remains, it became clear to us that we had a sacred duty to exercise the corporal work of mercy of burying the dead. Previously, these remains were considered medical waste. Our Catholic faith teaches us to value every human life from conception to natural death, and this initiative gives these precious souls the dignified interment they rightly deserve.”

The Garden of the Holy Innocents memorial is both a symbolic and physical marker, Dietz said. It is situated in the “Babyland” section of St. Vincent de Paul Cemetery, where little ones have been laid to rest.

“Each year, beginning with a special Mass on All Souls’ Day, November 2, we have offered these children a Christian burial, providing them with a dignified and sacred resting place,” Dietz said. Dietz told Today’s Catholic that the number of children buried at the cemetery continues to grow over the years, with 431 being laid to rest over the past three years. Dietz said it is “a somber but necessary testament to the value of every life.”

Five years ago, Jeff Kendell, Chairperson of the St. Vincent de Paul Cemetery Board, said Father Borchard tasked him with leading the effort to clean up and make improvements to the cemetery and complete necessary projects.

“One of these projects was the establishment of a dedicated section of the cemetery for the internment of babies,” Kendell said. “This is the section that the Garden of Holy Innocents is within.”

The cemetery board hopes to incorporate this Garden of Holy Innocents into a major columbarium and meditation garden.

“It is my hope we can raise awareness for respect for life in the community and show through our Holy Innocents ministry our respect for the sacredness of all life including these little souls,” Kendell said. Anyone interested in contributing to the cemetery maintenance or specifically the Holy Innocents Garden can learn more at

Losing a loved one is never easy, and this monument allows for a place where grieving families can find peace.

“Our deepest hope is that the project serves as an enduring reminder of the sanctity of life. We aspire to create both a resting place and a sanctuary for prayer and reflection,” Dietz said. “Plans are underway to extend this area into a memorial garden and meditation area, where families and community members can come to remember, pray, and find peace.”

Robertson said she hopes people will come to the memorial site to pray for an end to abortion, for those working to end abortion, and that life at all stages will be respected.

“In the past, the remains of many unborn children were treated as medical waste,” she reiterated. “The parents and family members mourning those children had no physical place at which to honor them. One of our hopes is that these parents will find solace and comfort here, and that they may bring flowers from time to time as they reflect on the gift of that child, perhaps asking for his or her intercession, maintaining an ongoing relationship within the communion of saints. I also hope that all those who honor life will visit and pray for these families.”

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