An infant has been placed in the care of Child Protective Services after he was discovered abandoned at a Minnesota church Wednesday, according to KARE-TV.
Nathan Leonhardt, a maintenance worker at the Cathedral of St. Paul, said during a press conference at the church on Thursday that he discovered a laundry basket while making his rounds after mass on Wednesday evening. He felt around the perimeter of the basket but discovered nothing suspicious.
As he began to walk away, however, he heard a cry. He initially thought it was a puppy, but when he pulled away the blanket, he discovered a newborn baby boy.
“I was in shock,” Leonhardt said. “It’s a scenario that’s never going to leave my head for the rest of my life.”
Leonhardt said he called for the Rev. John Ubel to come assist him, and the priest called 911.
Ubel told reporters that as they waited for authorities to arrive, he brought the infant into the sacristy, where he baptized him, giving him the name “Nathan” in honor of his rescuer.
As they carried him into the sacristy, Ubel said the baby let out a small cry when a cold wind blew through the church.
“‘Don’t worry, it’s OK,’” Ubel said he told the baby. “‘Welcome to Minnesota. Get used to it.’”
Ubel called the elder Nathan a “wonderful man” and a “hero.”
According to KARE, under Minnesota's Safe Haven law, a mother can surrender a newborn within the week following their birth to a designated safe haven location — such as a hospital or an urgent care center — with no questions asked, as long as the infant shows no signs of intentional abuse.
Although the cathedral is not a designated safe haven, police said they believe the mother acted in the spirit of the law and urged her to seek medical attention for herself without fear of legal consequences.
Ubel concurred with the sentiment.
“The most important thing is that this child is safe,” he said. “And whatever the motivations — and I’m not here to judge those, I don’t know the reasons — the fact of the matter is somebody felt that bringing the child here would be a safe place. That’s the most important thing.”
Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper told the Star Tribune that she hopes those who expressed an interest in adoption after hearing the story would consider that hundreds of other children in Minnesota are in need of homes.
“We have almost 500 other children out there waiting for a loving family to ask for them,” she said.