Archdiocese of Chicago and Cook County Officials Unveil Graveside Monument for Cook County’s Indigents, Unknowns and Unborn

July 13, 2017

The Archdiocese of Chicago and Cook County officials today unveiled a black granite monument that will mark the gravesites of the indigent, unidentified and unborn during a committal service at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, 2755 W 111th St.

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, and Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Board President, gathered with Cook County Commissioners, local funeral directors and volunteers during the ceremony. 

“In the Catholic tradition, it is a corporal work of mercy to bury and pray for the dead,” said Cardinal Cupich. “This monument not only identifies the gravesides of Cook County’s unidentified, unclaimed and unborn persons, it commemorates the lives of the deceased and demonstrates that every life is valuable and everyone’s death should be recognized and honored.”

Cook County, through the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, is entrusted with the final disposition for the indigent deceased in the County, unidentified deceased and fetal remains.

“We may not know the stories or the challenges of the people we bury, but each person was a member of our community ― a friend, a neighbor, a son, a daughter,” Preckwinkle said. “This monument is a symbol of our community coming together to care for one another.”  

The committal service included the burial of five unidentified remains, 80 indigent deceased and 24 fetal remains. Local funeral directors and other volunteers accompanied each decedent at the service and stayed until the burial was complete. Father Lawrence Sullivan, interim director of Catholic Cemeteries, presided over the service with Cardinal Cupich leading the blessing of caskets and monument. 

Since 2012, Catholic Cemeteries, the Archdiocese of Chicago and Cook County have laid to rest 420 indigent, 57 unidentified and 896 unborn with help from the Cook County Funeral Directors Association, Worsham College of Mortuary Science and Malcolm X College.