By KEVIN CHIRI
Tammany news bureau
COVINGTON – Lise Naccari is living proof that there is always something special to do for others if you are simply available.
Naccari is the director of Compassionate Burials for Indigent Babies (CBIB), a journey she has been on for 14 years. The work of the group has proven that some service roads can be the most unusual, unexpected paths in life.
CBIB is a North Shore organization that pays for the burials of babies from indigent families or individuals. While there are still many who do not know the group exists, Naccari has almost single-handedly lead the work since she formed in 2003.
Now 14 years later she said the group pays for three to four burials a month, although their growing notoriety is pushing that number higher each year.
How does one even get involved with an organization that is solely operating in this region to show respect to babies needing a burial?
The story started near 2000 when Naccari was married and pregnant with one of her four children, a pregnancy that would end with a miscarriage five months in. After going through a three-year period of depression following that loss, she had her fourth baby and seemed to have a new passion for babies.
Still not knowing that the CBIB ministry was in the future, she remembers visiting her dying mother in California in December, 2002 and seeing a story on TV about some individuals who were selling the body parts of aborted babies.
“I remember being shocked to see that and told my mother I had to do something about it—these babies deserved a respectful burial,” she recalls. “I’ll never forget that my mother, as sick as she was, stuck her finger out and pointed directly at me and said, ‘you have to do this.’ She had never acted that way before so I knew it was a message from God.”
When Naccari returned home to New Orleans, several years before she and her husband moved to Lacombe in 2011, she connected with the New Orleans Right to Life group and was soon asked to be on the board. She was getting more attention for her passion in the organization, which was heightened the day she walked into a New Orleans abortion clinic and started talking to girls scheduled for a procedure.
Then in 2003 the group was contacted and told there was a baby that had died, but the mother did not have the money to bury the child. Naccari immediately stood up and said she wanted to take care of the burial.
“That was the start of it,” Naccari said. “From then on when we were contacted by law enforcement, health care workers, social workers—many people who knew we would help—it was my ministry to handle. It just snowballed from there.”
Naccari is now connected with many in the healthcare field and with the police who know about CBIB and contact her in a situation where help is needed.
“Some people wonder how I know who truly needs the help,” she said. “But I just know. I have hardly ever had a situation where I thought someone was taking advantage of what we do—most of the time you just know.”
The burial and service for a baby costs approximately $1,000 and in the early years it was her husband who put up the money. In recent years the group has begun to get various donations, and now they have started an annual fundraiser each October to raise money.
“This is all about respect for human life,” Naccari said. “I’m very passionate about doing this to show how important life is.”
As the organization has become better known she has gotten some Catholic groups to support her in various ways. A Knights of Columbus group of men has a Bible study one night a week, and afterwards, they head out to a garage where they build the baby coffins and donate them to CBIB.
Some other individuals have made themselves available to sing at the funerals, and another group of women use wedding dresses to make the linings in the coffins.
“We don’t just provide the means for a burial, we help them plan a nice service,” she explained. “Many of the services are so beautiful—I have been thanked so much from mothers and family members. It reminds me how important this work is.”
Naccari grew up in New Orleans and married at the age of 21. She was raised in a family that did not attend church nor talked about spiritual matters, but when she was in the fifth grade a group of her teen friends asked her to come to the local Baptist Church.
“That was really the thing that led me to God,” she said. “After that I was eager to learn more.”
While attending LSU she became pregnant by her boyfriend—the man who would later become her husband—and she remembers a doctor suggesting she should get an abortion.
“He asked me, ‘well, what do you want to do?’ And I knew what he meant,” she said.
But she said her boyfriend said they would get married and keep the baby.
“When I saw him the next day he said, ‘I can’t stop smiling.’ It was one of the most beautiful things he has ever said to me,” she added. “He was raised Catholic and they are strong pro-lifers and I know that was a reason he knew we should keep the baby. I’ll always be thankful that he understood about abortion and what it really was.”
She had her second child, but then her third pregnancy was a difficult one that eventually led to the miscarriage.
“After the miscarriage it was such a dark time for me until I finally had our fourth baby,” she said. “I was so worried I was going to lose that one, but fortunately it all worked out.”
She believes the loss of her third child was the starting point to her extra compassion for the unborn and babies.
“We’ve had so many different situations,” she said. “One time a man called us and said his wife had miscarried at home. The baby was one inch long and he had kept it for us.”
Naccari’s group has also handled some high-profile situations on the North Shore in recent years that included a mother who threw her baby into a trash dumpster, and a recent death where a father allegedly punched the young child, leading to its death.
Naccari, 62, said she had a stroke in the past year and is now blind in one eye and is hoping some new people will come forward to help with the group, and take over the leadership.
“It’s a small group of us doing all this and now that I have some health issues I hope someone else will help out,” she said. “But until that happens I’ll do what is necessary since it’s all about showing respect for these babies—whether they were born or not.”
The group had to purchase a crypt that cost $5,000 and pays $700 a year for insurance. However, one doctor in New Orleans told Naccari one time, “Your group provides a valuable service for this community.”
If you would like to help the group, or donate funds to them, Naccari can be reached at 504-202-3111.