Small Blessings: Volunteers Give Proper Burials to Babies

From building tiny coffins to funerals, dignity and respect are offered to precious lives lost too soon.

Elisabeth Deffner

Document Publication: National Catholic Register

Publication Date: July 30, 2017

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The cypress is sanded smooth as glass, and it’s coated with a clear sealer to showcase the beauty of the wood. Each piece is connected to the next with biscuits, small football-shaped pieces of wood that fit snugly into carefully sized slots; the only metal is the hinge that connects the lid to the coffin itself. In that lid is cut a cross, traced over with gold; in that lid is also carved the name of the baby who will rest inside.

“All of the coffins are personal to the babies,” explained Don Sampey, who runs this woodworking operation from a small structure in his Metairie, Louisiana, backyard.

“We know the name of the baby, the history of the baby — all of that.”

The coffin ministry got its start about a year ago, when the woman who looks after Sampey’s handicapped son confided that her granddaughter had been stillborn, and her son couldn’t afford to bury the baby.


About 15 years ago, she was watching Father Frank Pavone on EWTN. He was speaking about the sale of aborted babies’ organs and how much money was involved. The next day, she told her mother, “Mom, I have to bury those babies.”

Her mom agreed: “Lise, that’s what you have to do.”


Human Dignity 

Naccari has one incredible story after another of families who have been touched by this ministry, from the parents who had a stillborn baby and wanted to know what to do next to the Texan who called and wondered what to do for a miscarried baby; since the baby was less than 20-weeks gestation, the family couldn’t get a death certificate, often needed in order to have a burial.

“We’re showing respect to human life,” emphasized Naccari. “Whether [a baby is] one-inch long or 2 years old, this is about respect for human life: to show dignity, the worth of human life, and they don’t belong in the trash can.”

“I get people who have murdered their babies — babies thrown in the trash can, babies found in the sewer, babies found in the garbage compactor,” she reported. “I have to deal with a lot of bad things … but it’s the most beautiful ministry.”

This ministry is the missing piece in the pro-life movement, according to Louisiana Right to Life Executive Director Benjamin Clapper.


Priests for Life
PO Box 236695 • Cocoa, FL 32923
Tel. 321-500-1000, Toll Free 888-735-3448 • Email: