Philomena Grace's Story
Missy Reilly Smith
It was the day after Thanksgiving, November 29, 2019 and my phone
rang early in the morning. It was a friend who I had known for years on the other end of the phone. She wondered if I had heard about an abandoned baby in a public ladies’ room in a nearby town.
I said I hadn’t heard anything but I would look into it. We immediately suspected that this baby was the victim of an abortion.
There was nothing in the newspaper or on the news, so I googled the information about a dead baby being found in a bathroom toilet and found a video of the first responders at the restaurant with a warning that “the mother could be in danger and in need of medical attention, so please contact them”.
It was one of those moments in my life when I knew that I was embarking on a journey that would lead me into uncharted waters. I really didn’t know what I was doing. I knew what I wanted to do, but was not sure how to accomplish it.
The thought of this precious little baby being left in a public toilet was too much to bear. I had a profound sense that God Himself led me to this baby and that the Holy Spirit was piercing my heart and inspiring me to take action. It felt like it was beyond my control. I simply gave my “yes” to God.
I called the Medical Examiner in charge and asked if I could make A “Good Samaritan” offer to arrange a funeral for the “Baby Doe” that had been brought into his office November 27th. I persevered in prayer and after many phone calls with helpful leads, I made progress with God’s plan to dignify this little one’s dramatic life and shocking death. I named her Philomena after St. Philomena for whom I have a great devotion, and Grace, after a very brave convert.
I asked St. Philomena to continue leading me through this process and I had complete faith she would. St Philomena was a wonder worker
and the saint of the End Times. All would be well.
I eventually discovered that an autopsy would be performed and that her body would be sent to the Anatomy Board to be donated to research, or cremated. Time was of the essence. Even though I made many calls requesting that she not be cremated, I was not sure that I could stop the wheels, already in motion. I felt it was out of my control.
I put it all in the hands of St. Philomena, the wonder worker. My precious, little saint would have to intervene. I needed help from heaven to accomplish this earthly plan. All the long I kept believing that God had His own plan!
I have often been told that I have no fear. In this situation in particular, I felt confident that I was doing God’s will and that I was under His protection. On January 24, 2020 - the day of The March For Life - a mortician called me at 3:00 pm and said that he had picked up the body of Philomena Grace from the Anatomy Board in Baltimore and had brought it to a funeral home. Another miracle!
Now I needed to find a church where we could have a Christian
funeral and burial for Philomena Grace. To make a long story short, seven months later my friend, Jack, was able to arrange for the funeral and burial to be held at his own parish, Christ the King, in Towson, Maryland. The funeral would take place on October 17, 2020, almost a year after Philomena was found.
That week was filled with cloudy skies and rain. Saturday, October 17th arrived with clear, blue, sunny skies and a pleasant breeze! The church was filled with many people who had been touched by the story of this little one and her short, but dramatic, life.
Bishop Joseph Coffey was the main celebrant for the funeral Mass. His homily was one to remember, so touching, powerful and fitting for our little baby, Philomena Grace. This wonderful bishop has been involved with the pro-life movement since he was arrested with his mother for their pro-life work many years ago. Bishop Coffey has 46 nieces and nephews and says with pride, “Yes we are pro-life! He hopes to see Philomena Grace in heaven some day!
Father Meeks, the pastor of Christ the King Church, was a most gracious host. He had videotaped a homily just weeks before the funeral explaining why we could not, in good conscience, vote for a president in the upcoming election who is not pro-life. His video is so powerful that it has gone viral.
Fr. William Kuchinsky of Romney, West Virginia concelebrated the Mass with Bishop Coffey and Fr. Meeks. He is well known for his ministry of helping to save lives and souls by leading prayer vigils outside of abortion clinics.
All were gathered to pay tribute to God’s little one who had been abandoned and discarded and yet now was being honored by so many who believe in the sacredness of every human life. After a glorious Mass we processed to a small cemetery next to the church called the “Garden of the Innocents” where Philomena Grace was laid to rest in the last spot available. Yes, another sign of God’s Perfect Plan! So many miracles, for those that have eyes to see and ears to hear.
Prayers were said, and a bagpiper played in the background as the tiny coffin was lowered into the grave. Our hearts melted within as tears welled up in our eyes. Everyone took a shovel to place dirt on the tiny coffin that had been made with great love by a wonderful, older gentleman. Afterwards a lunch was served by the women of the parish. Adults mingled and shared about the beautiful ceremony as little children chased each other on the grass. God had a plan and it is far greater than any of us can imagine.
So many had lent their support so that this special day could come to fruition. A picture-perfect day, touching so many hearts and minds, would live on forever. Philomena Grace showed us how an abandoned abortion victim will go on to touch countless lives and change many hearts. The countless number of little ones, gone without a trace, now has a face. Her name is Philomena Grace.