Tears flow at abandoned baby’s funeral
By Tia Carol Jones Special to Sun-Times Media May 17, 2013 6:43AM
Updated: May 17, 2013 6:09PM
CHICAGO RIDGE — The tragic death of a newborn boy, whose body was found May 1 in a cooler at a Chicago Ridge recycling plant, was driven home Thursday, May 16, during his funeral Mass at Our Lady of the Ridge Catholic Church.
“We are a people who are supposed to respect life and cherish it to the fullest,” the Rev. George Svida, pastor of the church, told those in attendance, many of whom openly wept. “These are not ways to respect life — life given but not to be taken away by some senseless act. Not to be destroyed, not to be taken out like garbage.”
Sally Flanagan, a parishioner at Our Lady of the Ridge for more than 40 years, said she attended the funeral because she was strongly affected by news of the abandoned infant.
“It’s out of love that I came. At least I can show him love, that he mattered, that he’s part of the family,” Flanagan said.
Also attending was Dawn Geras, president of the Chicago-based Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, who said she doesn’t want to bury any more babies.
“It’s heartbreaking and frustrating, I can’t tell you how angry I get,” she said.
Geras said the foundation is trying to deter babies from being abandoned by increasing awareness of Illinois’ safe haven law, which allows a person to leave a baby, up to 30 days old, at a hospital, fire station or police station without penalty.
“I want them to know the safe haven law exists ... that they could take a loving option,” she said.
Police Chief Robert Pyznarski, who was one of two pallbearers for the tiny casket, said police and village officials wanted the baby’s funeral to be in Chicago Ridge because he was found in the village. The cost was covered by Rest in His Arms, a nonprofit group.
Police named the newborn Jeremiah Michael because Michael is the patron saint of police and Jeremiah in Hebrew means “God will set you free,” police said. He was buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery near Alsip via a donation from the Chicago Archdiocese.
Pyznarski said he was pleased with the turnout of about 150 people for the funeral, adding that was a difficult case for him and his officers.
Police said the investigation is continuing to try to find the person who left the infant among trash that was brought to the recycling center after being collected in either North Chicago, Waukegan or Pleasant Prairie, Wis.
“I feel sorry for the people at the recycling center who found him and the investigators here who had to see something like this,” Pyznarski said. “I hope moms see this and they’ll take other actions. You definitely have other options (under the law), so don’t take this way out.”