Catholic monks donate urn and casket to Evansdale cousins - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Catholic monks donate urn and casket to Evansdale cousins


A Dubuque County monastery is donating a very special casket for Elizabeth and urn for Lyric.

Even in their final resting places, the girls will be surrounded by the love and prayers of people they never met.

New Melleray Abbey in Dubuque County owns and operates Trappist Caskets, which makes hand-crafted wooden caskets and urns. The profits go to support the monks in their vocation of prayer and contemplation.

With skillful and work-worn hands, Catholic monk Brother Joseph Kronebusch puts love and prayer into every piece he helps make.

"It's symbolic. It's a work of love, a work of beauty," Kronebusch said. "I'm thinking of the life of that person and the family that loved them."

Thursday afternoon, Kronebusch hand-sorted pieces of walnut wood at Trappist Caskets.

"A casket is a casket, but, for us, our kind of sacramental life, it means something that it's made by humans that are touching it, that are making it one at a time," Kronebusch said. "They're not being spot-welded by robots coming down an assembly line."

Sam Mulgrew is the general manager of Trappist Caskets.

"A lot of people come to us because of the symbolic value of the product, that it's made at a monastery, made by monks, and it seems to be very effective in their grieving process," Mulgrew said.

Trappist Caskets is donating an urn for Lyric and a casket for Elizabeth - handmade gifts amid the tragedy.

"Like everyone, of course, we hoped and prayed for the best and feared the worst," Kronebusch said, of the search for the missing girls.

Every casket and urn gets a blessing from a monk.

"Love and prayerfulness surrounds it: our outreach to the families in their time of grieving and sorrow," Kronebusch said. "We're cloistered in the monastery here, so this is our way of reaching out to grieving families, of making a casket and sending it to them."

The girls will be surrounded in prayer and love as they're laid to rest.

"Sometimes I think of it as like a treasure chest, with this beautiful treasure of this loved one, or some people think of it as a cradle. It's going to hold this body until-- we're all focused on the hope of the resurrection and our reunion in the future in heaven," Kronebusch said.

Trappist Caskets is the same company that donated a casket for the nine-year-old girl who died in the Tucson, Arizona shooting attempt on then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' life.

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