‘They are sacred to us,’ said Bishop Gruss of the 175 people whose unclaimed remains were laid to rest 


SAGINAW — The faithful who processed through Calvary Cemetery in Kawkawlin knew very little about the lives of the 175 individuals they were praying for … and, yet, they braved chilly air and gave their Saturday morning to help say goodbye to a community of people whose cremated remains were never claimed by family or friends.

“The Church invites us to pray in a very special way, give alms and do works of penance for all the deceased, for our loved ones and friends, but also for all those who have died whom we have never known,” said Bishop Robert Gruss. “There are many who have no one to pray for them.” 

On All Souls Day, November 2, Bishop Robert Gruss celebrated Mass at the cemetery (read full text of Bishop Gruss' homily). He then led a procession from the chapel to the mausoleum where the cremains were entombed in a crypt.  Among the 175 individuals laid to rest were 6 babies, 13 veterans and 4 married couples. 

“These individuals, these children of God, we know very little about,” said Bishop Robert Gruss. “We do know their lives have value. I am so glad we have the opportunity to lay these cremains to rest. What an honor and a privilege in the eyes of God."

The individuals’ cremains had previously been with the Saginaw County medical examiner’s office and several funeral homes in the diocese – in some cases for many decades.

“Like all of our loved ones who have died, we honor these individuals today as well, because they, too, have been created in God’s image and likeness, they are sacred to us,” Bishop Gruss shared Saturday with those gathered. “Each one of them, in the eyes of God, are part of the Body of Christ – regardless of their faith, or if they had no specific faith at all. So we are here today to show our love and care and concern for our brothers and sisters by upholding their God given dignity and providing them a final resting place where they will be remembered.”

In a beautiful gesture of love for the deceased, students from St Brigid of Kildare Catholic School in Midland participated in a penny war to raise money for burial expenses. The students raised more than $500 which was used to purchase memorial flowers and more.   

Burial in a Catholic cemetery is an expression of the Church’s belief that the human body is sacred, even in death. Catholic cemeteries provide a final resting place on consecrated ground and are places for prayer, reflection, hope and remembrance. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that burying the dead is a corporal work of mercy, as “it honors the children of God, who are temples of the Holy Spirit.”

Military Honors were presented by the Bay County Veterans Council Honor Guard.

Learn about our Catholic Cemeteries