Infant safe after being found abandoned at Minnesota cathedral

IMAGE: CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit

By Maria Wiering

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) — A
newborn child found on the doorstep of the Cathedral of St. Paul was in good
health and being cared for by local children’s services officials.

Nathan Leonhardt, a custodian at the cathedral,
discovered the child Jan. 4 as he was locking the building about 6 p.m. following
evening Mass. The baby was left in a plastic laundry basket between the
exterior and interior doors of a church entrance.

Leonhardt and Father John Ubel, cathedral
rector, cared for the infant boy in the church sacristy until emergency
responders arrived. The priest said he baptized the child while waiting for
police and an ambulance to arrive.

Ubel said he hopes the boy, whom he christened Nathan John, will be adopted by a
Catholic family. He finds it significant that the baby was left at a Catholic
parish. The baby was placed in the care of Ramsey County Child Protective

Police are not pursuing the case as a criminal
matter, said Sgt. Mike Ernster, St. Paul police spokesman. Minnesota law allows
a mother to leave a newborn in a safe place within seven days of birth, such as
a hospital or urgent care clinic without having to answer any questions.
However, a church is not classified as one of those safe places.

Ubel believes, however, that the baby was left at the cathedral because the
mother knew her son would be safe and cared for with the parish’s help.

he first saw the basket with a blanket on top, Leonhardt thought someone had
left laundry on the steps to the church foyer. He then heard a noise from the
basket and thought it might be a puppy. When he removed the blanket, he saw the
baby’s face.

was speechless,” he said. “I froze for what seemed to be 10 seconds, but it was
probably more.”

said the infant appeared to be recently born because he was still covered in blood
and mucus and had not been washed. The umbilical cord was cut and clamped with
a binder clip.

Father Ubel
visited the hospital later in the evening but was unable to see the child. Police
informed him that the baby was likely born slightly premature, weighed about 5
pounds, and is in good health.

The priest said
he is grateful that the mother chose not to abort the baby. His is also proud
of Leonhardt’s quick actions.

“The fact
that this child was left off at a Catholic church is not an insignificant
detail to me,” Father Ubel said. “Absent any other information forthcoming, I
think it’s important that this child be given up for adoption, and there would
be many willing Catholic couples who would welcome this child into their home.”

Like Father
Ubel, Leonhardt also hopes the baby can go to a good home.

picked a good spot to drop him off,” said Leonhardt, 26, a parishioner of St. Patrick Church in suburban Inver
Grove Heights. “It’s a church. We love children.”

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is editor of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and

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