Monday, February 14, 2005

Chicago priest finds premature newborn at church door

When Father Paul Kalchik peered behind the vestibule door at St. Michael Parish in Chicago before the 9:30 a.m. Mass Feb. 6, he saw a bundle wrapped in a blue terry-cloth towel.

It wasn't until he unwrapped the cloth that the tiny baby inside started to cry, and Father Kalchik's training as a nurse -- a degree he studied for but never completed -- and as a priest kicked in. "I was thinking, 'Little baby. Cold little baby. Get the baby warm. Get the baby safe,'" Father Kalchik said from his office at Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary Feb. 7.

And as he carried the baby up the aisle and into the attached rectory, he noticed the tiny boy urinating on him ("That's good --it means his kidneys are functioning," Father Kalchik thought) as he pronounced the prayers of baptism.

He christened the child Michael Joseph, in honor of St. Michael the Archangel, the parish's patron, and late pastor Father Joseph Nowack. After Father Kalchik wrapped the baby in a dry towel and called authorities, Michael Joseph was taken to Advocate Trinity Hospital. Staff said the boy, at 3 pounds 4 ounces, was about five weeks premature. He needed tube feeding but was otherwise well.

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