NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Mourners wearing face masks stood under a steady drizzle to say goodbye to two abandoned babies who were found dead at a recycling center in the city in February.
They place flowers on the tiny caskets at St. Peter’s Catholic Cemetery on Friday during the service, which was oordinated by the Diocese of Metuchen and St. Peter the Apostle University and Community Parish, and with the support of the Office of the Mayor of the City of New Brunswick.
Shortly after hearing the news on Feb. 19 that the babies' bodies had been discovered, Rev. James F. Checchio, Bishop of Metuchen, contacted the Office of the Mayor and offered to bury the infants if their bodies went unclaimed.
“In a time when people are experiencing anxiety, sickness and death as a result of COVID-19 and as we hear the voices of politicians and celebrities echoing similar sentiments in their public service announcements, reminding us that we cannot put a value on human life, we need to come together as a nation to remember that every life, at every stage, is sacred and is to be protected and cherished,” said Bishop Checchio.
At the cemetery, before the white casket was lowered into its final resting place, the mourners who never knew the babies, looked on and prayed.
“In the face of these deaths, all words fail,” said Msgr. Joseph G. Celano, pastor of St. Peter the Apostle University and Community Parish, who presided over the rite of committal at the cemetery. “But we know that the Lord Jesus accompanies us and accompanies these children with tender mercy and love.”
According to a press release on the Diocese's website, among those who attended the graveside service were Anthony P. Kearns, chancellor for the Diocese of Metuchen, Jennifer Ruggiero, diocesan director of the Office of Human Life and Dignity and Mayor Jim Cahill.
“Since the investigation is still underway, we don’t know the full circumstances that led to the loss of life for these precious babies, but the loss of an infant is always deeply heartbreaking,” said Ruggiero. “If, indeed, the parents felt they had no other options and nowhere to turn for help, hopefully raising awareness about the help that is out there will help to prevent future tragedies.”
New Brunswick Police responded to 12 Industrial Drive at 9:20 a.m. on Feb. 19 and recovered a deceased newborn, according to a statement from Middlesex County Acting Prosecutor Christopher L.C. Kuberiet and Director Anthony Caputo of the New Brunswick Police Department.
The investigation at the facility led to the recovery of another deceased newborn about six hours later.