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 • Our Lady Queen of Heaven Cemetery
 • Fort Lauderdale
 • Broward County
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Baby Dominique
Birth: Dec., 2012
Delray Beach
Palm Beach County
Florida, USA
Death: Dec., 2012
Delray Beach
Palm Beach County
Florida, USA

This tiny Angel's Story was reported:
By Lona O'Connor
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
ROYAL PALM BEACH


The day started cold and blustery but by noon the sky above Our Lady Queen of Peace Cemetery cleared to a crystalline blue.
If there is such a thing as a good day for a funeral, this was it.
And if there is anything sadder than an infant's funeral, it is the funeral of an infant with no family to mourn him.
The Rev. Gabriel Ghanoum gave all the credit for the sunshine to Baby Dominique, a stillborn infant whose mother, for reasons known only to her, left his remains at Wellington Regional Medical Center. Attempts to find the young mother failed.
"Baby Dominique, it's your day," said Ghanoum, a man whose serene optimism is equally matched to the sad situation he has chosen to address.
Ghanoum, chaplain at JFK Medical Center in Atlantis and founder of St. Nicholas Melkite Catholic Church in Delray Beach, became curious about what happened to unclaimed remains after a 100-year-old woman died without family at JFK, on his watch.
"I went to my good friend, Joseph St. Jean, director of nursing, and asked him what happens with the body of a deceased person who has no family," said Ghanoum. St. Jean told him to talk to Adriana Gorrondona, a case worker for the Palm Beach County Division of Human Services. The county takes care of the unclaimed dead. She told him that unclaimed remains are handed over to a county funeral home for cremation.
Gorrondona is rarely able to track down relatives, a fact that troubles her.
"We get a lot of homeless people, or people that own their own places and just have no family," said Gorrondona.
Meanwhile Tom Jordan, director of Our Lady Queen of Peace cemetery, had two shocking incidents in the three years he has been there. In both cases someone left containers of ashes one a five-gallon plastic bucket and the other a bag at the cemetery gates.
Fortunately, whoever left them also left the names of the deceased.
"I think they had good intentions," said Jordan. "But it was a learning process for me."
He was able to track one name, but that led to a funeral home in New York long since out of business.
So Jordan had been mulling over the same sad situation when Ghanoum called to ask for space in the cemetery.
In May, 2011, the three kindred spirits started an effort they call "No one buried alone," providing simple services attended by a small coterie of volunteer mourners, cemetery or hospital employees or church members, whoever has the time to be there.
As soon as Ghanoum let funeral home directors know what he was doing, he received many unclaimed remains. A crypt at Our Lady Queen of Peace now contains 200 urns that had been sitting on funeral home shelves, and Jordan expects he will have to devote more space soon.
Funeral homes are only required to keep unclaimed remains for 120 days, although some hold them longer. A few of the remains that are now interred at Our Lady Queen of Peace are nearly a century old.
After that first collection, the number has dropped to about a dozen every three months, Jordan said. The cemetery, which is run by the five-county Diocese of Palm Beach, has a commitment to continue the tradition, Jordan said.
And if anyone wants to reconcile, it's never too late, said Gorrondona. She keeps whatever vital statistics she has been able to gather, and they are also on file at the cemetery.
Gorrondona takes it as a matter of pride that she has tracked down everyone she could, adding names and birth dates. If a relative makes an inquiry, she said, "Now they have a place to come."
Only once has someone come looking for an estranged relative, said Jordan. Otherwise burials are attended by the small group, who want to show their respect and their belief, as Catholics, that Christ will come again to raise the living and the dead to heaven.
Some people do not consider remains to be the same as a person. Others simply don't know what to do with the remains of someone long dead, which is why an urn of ashes may end up forgotten on a shelf in a garage 50 years later.
But Catholics consider a body, or even a part of a body, to be the manifestation of an immortal soul, another reason that makes Ghanoum's funerals important.
The point, said Gorrondona, is that somebody chooses to stand by the homeless or the loveless or the stillborn baby. To them, this is a human being with a soul and a chance for redemption. Or, as Ghanoum says, an angel looking out for others from on high.
"We all need to be present for each other, whether we knew each other or not," said Gorrondona. "I go every time. It's giving dignity to people who have nobody."
Baby Dominique's mother showed up at the hospital after she began experiencing pain, Gorrondona found out. Examining her, doctors determined that her 26-week-old fetus was no longer alive. A fetus older than 20 weeks, considered the minimum age of viability, must be given a death certificate.
"These young women, they may be alone, they get scared," said Stephanie Link-Quijada, a counselor at Our Lady Queen of Peace. "There may be nobody to guide them. (The mother) must be in a lot of pain. If not now, then later, it's going to be very hard for her. Unfortunately, we cannot reach out and help her. That's why we do this."
All that remained of baby Dominique was just enough ashes to fill a small silver heart-shaped container that fit in palm of the priest's hand.
Ghanoum covered the container with his hands, holding it as gently as a small bird.
"I will not reject anyone who comes to me," said Ghanoum, quoting from the Gospel of Luke. "God of all consolation, bring us comfort and peace."

Source of this touching burial of Baby Dominique is thanks to:

By Lona O'Connor
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
ROYAL PALM BEACH 
 
Burial:
Our Lady Queen of Heaven Cemetery
Fort Lauderdale
Broward County
Florida, USA
 
Created by: Diddy & Doodle
Record added: Dec 30, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 102828887
Baby Dominique
Added by: Diddy & Doodle
 
Baby Dominique
Cemetery Photo
Added by: David Vargo
 
 
Photos may be scaled.
Click on image for full size.


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