BERLIN – When Joe Mulholland’s wife died, he started visiting the Gate of Heaven Cemetery twice a week. It was on one of those visits that he first noticed the small area of the Dagsboro graveyard devoted to infants who have passed away. While the cemetery as a whole is beautiful, Mulholland said most visitors would never even know the section created for babies was there.
“It doesn’t look great right now,” he said. “The site needs to be upgraded.”
The more he thought about it, the more he decided it was a cause he should adopt. This fall, he created the “Baby Memorial Fund” and began soliciting donations to cover the cost of a memorial wall to be built at the site.
“Something’s motivating me to do this,” he said. “I just have to get this accomplished.”
Mulholland hopes to raise the money it will take to build a small granite wall inscribed with the names of the children buried in the cemetery.
“Everybody tells me it’s a good cause,” he said.
Because Gate of Heaven Cemetery is a catholic cemetery, Mulholland got in touch with the Diocese of Wilmington as well as Don Lydick, pastoral associate at the cemetery.
Lydick said, like Mulholland, he was sorry to see the lack of interest paid to the area where the babies were buried. He said the cemetery donated the plots for the babies, some of whom were stillborn, others of whom lived just hours, but that they didn’t have real gravestones.
Lydick, who helped design the proposed memorial, said it would feature the names of the infants already buried there and would include space for others who were interred there in the future. He expects the granite wall to cost $4,000 but says a reserve fund will be needed so that additional names can be added to it in the future.
“We know we’re going to get more,” he said.
Mulholland says he’s hoping to have the memorial installed next spring but that the speed of the project will depend on how quickly he receives donations. In the meantime, he continues to visit the children’s graves on his regular trips to the cemetery.
“My heart goes out to them,” he said. “I always think of how my wife just loved babies.”
Anyone interested in donating can contact the cemetery at 302-732-3690. Checks, which should be made payable to Catholic Cemeteries Inc., can be mailed to “Baby Memorial Fund,” Gate of Heaven Cemetery, 32112 Vines Creek Rd., Dagsboro, Del., 19939.