Parents grieving miscarriage, lost infants find solace in praying for their children

A couple attends the annual Mass for Pregnancy and Infant Loss on Oct. 18 at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament. The Archdiocese of Detroit organizes the Mass every year for parents who have lost a child through miscarriage, after birth and for families who have been unable to conceive. (Photos by Dan Meloy | Detroit Catholic)

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Mass gives parents space to acknowledge children lost and pray for the children to come in God’s due time

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DETROIT — Michelle Kolozsvary knows the pain of losing a child. Her two miscarriages remain a part of her life every day. 

So when the opportunity came up to remember and acknowledge them Oct. 18 at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Kolozsvary was grateful.

“It is nice to have the loss acknowledged, to have the opportunity to pray for these children and to have them prayed over,” said Kolozsvary, a member of St. Kenneth Parish in Plymouth who attended the annual Mass for Pregnancy and Infant Loss alongside her husband, Andy. 

Mothers and fathers of expected children who died in utero and parents of children who died as infants gathered at the cathedral to acknowledge their pain and to pray with and for one another. 

It was a somber ceremony, but it also was a time for healing. As the names of expected children were read aloud, parents stood as their baby’s name was called. 

Deacon Michael Van Dyke offers a blessing to a woman and her children at the Mass for Pregnancy and Infant Loss at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

“It’s really beautiful to be here with other families who have lost pregnancies or infants; it’s meaningful to have the loss acknowledged,” said Kolozsvary, whose four living children and her husband didn’t attend because of COVID-imposed attendance restrictions. 

Kolozsvary and other parents received a rosary and prayer card to St. Gerard, patron of expectant parents. After Mass, parents were invited to write the names of their babies in the Book of Innocents that remains in the foyer of the cathedral year-round, where their intentions are prayed for regularly.

Kolozsvary recalled how her fifth pregnancy, after having four children, seemed very routine until the 12 weeks into the pregnancy.

“It just came as a real shock, it was really just devastating,” Kolozsvary said. “We didn’t tell people I was expecting; after the 13-week ultrasound, we were going to have a picture to show the kids and announce to people. But then the baby’s heartbeat stopped. It was devastating.”

The annual Mass for Pregnancy and Infant Loss allows mothers like Kolozsvary to memorialize their children, recognizing that they, too, are part of the Church, said Nicole Joyce, natural family planning coordinator for the Archdiocese of Detroit, which organized the event.

Victor and Guadalupe Aireola-Olvera, with their two daughters Renata and Camila, attend the Mass for Pregnancy and Infant Loss to pray for the couple’s two children who died in the womb. Victor said the Mass is a chance to recognize the children as part of the family and now in the presence of God.  

“We know our children are being remembered and are prayed for all the time,” Joyce told Detroit Catholic. “It’s very comforting to mother and fathers to write down their child’s name (in the Book of Innocents). A lot of them don’t have a birth certificate, so they never had the child’s name written on anything before. It’s nice to have the child’s name written and spoken at Mass.”

In his homily, Archbishop Vigneron said parents who have lost a child in pregnancy or shortly after birth can place their hope in the Resurrection.

“I give God praise and thanks that in this terrible tragedy of losing a child, you have not lost your faith,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “That by the power and spirit of Jesus Christ, you still know and believe, even through your tears, that God is a good Father, and that you are willing to abandon yourself into His plan. You have hope you will see that child again because Christ is risen.”

For parents still waiting for a child, Archbishop Vigneron noted the Christian life means trusting in God’s plan, even though it’s not fully revealed.

“You believe in God’s wise plan, His timing. It’s never too late. It is always God’s good time,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “You believe your happiness is more important to God than it is to you. You entrust yourself to his providence; this is your hope. He knows what’s best, and He will make it work for His glory and your salvation.”

Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron assured parents who have lost an infant in the womb or shortly after birth that such children are now with God, Whose love for them is infinite, just as God loves the parents and understands their needs.

The Mass is an opportunity for parents to proclaim the dignity of all life, beginning from conception and carrying on in heaven in the presence of the Lord.

“We are boldly proclaiming the dignity and value of every human life,” Joyce said. “We are preaching that we do believe life begins at conception, so we are honoring these lives, even if they are short. We believe in the communion of saints, so we make them part of the liturgy. We remember they are still part of our Christian family.”

For Kolozsvary, acknowledging the life that was lost and the pain she felt after her first miscarriage was part of the healing process. 

“We named her and had a grave to visit,” Kolozsvary said. “Last year, when I had my second miscarriage, it was all together a different loss; it was a whole different situation. I barely had time to register that I was expecting. When I saw this Mass come up again, I knew it was important to acknowledge this second baby.”

A portrait of the Blessed Virgin Mary holding the child Jesus is displayed in the sanctuary during the Mass for Pregnancy and Infant Loss. 

Joyce said the Mass for Pregnancy and Infant loss breaks a taboo in American society that is uncomfortable talking about death, especially the death of the unborn.

“There is a level of discomfort with a lot of people not wanting to acknowledge death when it involves pregnancy and delivering a baby,” Joyce said. “That makes it difficult for families to grieve their loss in public.”

But together with other parents who have experienced similar pain, Kolozsvary said the Mass helped her process the loss, reaffirming her faith that her children are now in the presence of the Lord, living in heaven and remembered on earth.

“There is a feeling of solidarity,” Kolozsvary said. “You feel less alone when you see the others stand when their baby’s name is called. Our children exist with our Lord right now in eternity. They are there; they are real. I’m grateful to the archdiocese for acknowledging these lives. It’s helped in the grieving process.”