Burr Ridge church offers tree of memories
The Rev. Herman Kincaid, pastor at St. Peter and St. Paul Orthodox Church in Burr Ridge, stands next to the memorial tree in the worship area. The tree is adorned with ornaments that honor the lost loved ones of church members and friends. | Jeff Krage
Updated: February 11, 2013 1:58AM
BURR RIDGE — A beautifully adorned tree is always part of Christmas at St. Peter and St. Paul Orthodox Church.
But this year’s ornaments are especially beautiful, as they bear the faces of loved ones who have been lost.
“It’s really not an Orthodox tradition in any sense,” said the Rev. Herman Kincaid, pastor at the Burr Ridge church. But he and others in the church hope to make it a local tradition.
Linda Ciolino purchased four ornaments for the tree, which sits in the worship area of the church at 6980 S. County Line Road. The heart-shaped ornaments hold photos of her parents, her grandfather and her grandson.
“This is a special Christmas memorial for our families,” Ciolino said.
The Rev. Danial Doss, associate pastor, brought the idea of the memorial tree from Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Palos Hills, where he leads a compassion support group.
“Christmas and the new year can be very hard for people who have recently lost loved ones,” Doss said.
By joining others in paying tribute to their lost loved ones, participants feel they are not alone in their grief.
“It’s a way of coping with the loss,” Kincaid said.
It’s also a way to remember. Cioloni enlisted the help of some church children to hang the photos of her loved ones.
“My mom just passed away this year,” she said, and as the children hung the ornament, they remembered Cioloni’s mom, a longtime church member known to the children as “Miss Marie.”
“It’s a good thing,” Cioloni said.
Others hung ornaments for loved ones they never knew. Several ornaments, Kincaid said, hold the names of babies who were lost to miscarriage.
More than 100 ornaments honoring more than 100 loved ones adorn the tree at St. Peter and St. Paul. Kincaid read the names of each lost loved one at a special service on Dec. 8.
The tree will stay up throughout the Christmas season. When the tree comes down, loved ones will take their ornaments home until the tree goes up again next year.