The Perfect Location
Faribault Daily News
By Pauline Schreiber
December 1, 2005

Rev. Henry Doyle, (left) follows Ruth Fridstrom and her children to the front of the Shumway Memorial Chapel of the Good Shepherd to view the plaque dedicating the church to Eunice K. Shumway, who died at 13 months old in 1859. Fridstrom was there in preparation for Sunday's "Remembering With Love" service through Infants Remembered In Silence. (IRIS). Robb Long/Daily News. Rev. Henry Doyle, chaplain for Shattuck-St. Mary's School, explains the significance of the dedication plaque on the wall of the Shumway Memorial Chapel of the Good Shepherd. Robb Long/Daily News.


Everyone would agree that a chapel dedicated to the glory of God and loving memory of a 13-month-old girl who died is the perfect place for a holiday remembrance service for children lost in early pregnancy, stillbirth or early infancy.

However, when Diana Sundwall, founder and director of Infants Remembered In Silence Inc. (IRIS), first asked Shattuck-St. Mary's School officials for permission to use the Chapel of Good Shepherd for such a service, she did not know the story about the chapel's dedication. The Chapel of the Good Shepherd is dedicated to Eunice K. Shumway, an infant who died on April 19, 1859, at the age of 13 months and 18 days.

"Now that I know, I couldn't think of a more perfect location for IRIS' annual holiday service of remembrance," Sundwall said.

This year's service is set for 2 p.m. Sunday in the Shattuck chapel. It was dedicated by Minnesota's first Episcopal bishop, Henry B. Whipple, on Sept. 24, 1872, to the Glory of God and in loving memory of Eunice K. Shumway.

"More often than not, it's just called the Chapel of the Good Shepherd. However, its full name is Shumway Memorial Chapel of the Good Shepherd," said Rev. Henry Doyle, chaplain for Shattuck-St. Mary's School.

Doyle will participate in the "Remembering With Love" service IRIS volunteers have planned in the chapel. The Divine Mercy Catholic Church choir and handbells choir from First English Lutheran Church also will be part of the service.

Eunice K. Shumway was the daughter of a wealthy Chicago woman, Augusta Johnston Shumway, and Noratio G. Shumway. Doyle explained that Augusta Johnston Shumway met Bishop Whipple and promised him money to build a chapel for his Episcopal boys school in Faribault. "But then she lost all her property in the Chicago fire. However, she got a $15,000 insurance settlement afterward and sent it to the Bishop with the message of �A promise made, is a promise kept.' The $15,000 allowed the chapel to be built without any debt."

In later years, Doyle said, Augusta Shumway regained much of her wealth and gave additional donations to Shattuck, including money for the construction of the main classroom building on campus with a clock tower, Shumway Hall, which opened in 1887.

"It's such a beautiful chapel and a wonderful service IRIS has," said Jessie Donahue. "The holidays can be such a hard time if you've lost a child. It was especially hard for us, which is why my husband Jim and I came last year and found it very helpful."

Jim and Jessie Donahue of Faribault lost their 3-day-old son, Kilian, on Dec. 25, 2003. Kilian, their fourth child, was born on Dec. 22 of that year and appeared healthy at birth. He had a rare enzyme defect, however, and become severely ill just hours after they had taken him home on Dec. 24. Rushed to St. Marys Hospital in Rochester from District One Hospital, the Donahues and their extended family learned from doctors the infant's liver couldn't process ammonia and there was nothing doctors could do to treat the rare condition.

"The IRIS service was wonderful. It let us remember Kilian's short life and be with other parents and families who've suffered a similar loss," Jessie said.

Ruth Fridstrom of Faribault also attended the IRIS "Remembering With Love" service at the chapel for the first time last year. She lost a daughter during pregnancy she and her husband planned to call Anna; she would have been their fifth child. Since then, a son who is now 9 months old has joined the family.

"I found it nice to come here last year with other members of the IRIS support group. We all sat together," Fridstrom said. "It brought me comfort, and I'm sure it brought comfort to other parents to remember the child they lost."

Parents can bring memorabilia connected with their lost infant and display it in the windows of the chapel during the service, Sundwall said.

"Parents never forget the children they have lost. They may not mention them often because it makes others uncomfortable, but they do not forget them," said Sundwall. "The remembrance service allows them to remember, and it helps them heal their grief."

The service includes the reading of all children's names of parents who attend, Sundwall said. Parents are given the opportunity when their children's names are read to come up and light a candle on the altar in memory of their child, to place a ribbon with their child's name on a special wreath, and then take from the altar an angel volunteers have made.

"It's a long service. Last year there were 198 babies remembered, so it took an hour and a half," Sundwall said. "The chapel bell is rung for each child and there are special memorial handbells with the children's names on them that are also rung. It's a beautiful service."

This year marks the 12th such service IRIS has put on. Sundwall, when first asked by parents to organize such a holiday service of remembrance, was doubtful people might attend. "I just thought the holidays are so busy. However, attendance has steadily grown. Last year we had several hundred people who packed the chapel. Some people have come every year. Others are new. It's a lovely service. Parents who want can read a poem or sing a song."

After the service, there is a reception in the chapel that allows parents and other family members to socialize and remember together the infants they have lost.