The first time the Rev. William Kuchinsky performed a funeral Mass outside a parish, it was in the basement kitchen of a Capitol Hill rowhouse. He prayed over dozens of tiny blue circular, plastic containers.

They held more than 100 human fetuses, and the service was a secret.

Kuchinsky, a West Virginia priest well known for his antiabortion activism, had been called to the apartment on March 28 by other antiabortion activists who said they had gotten the remains from the driver of a medical waste disposal truck in D.C. — an account the waste company denied. Lauren Handy, who rented the apartment, and Terrisa Bukovinac, another activist, had asked Kuchinsky to come, and he celebrated a funeral Mass.

Kuchinsky said he also agreed to take nearly all the fetuses, which the priest knew some would see as stolen and deeply disrespected, while others would call them rescued and honored.

Over the next few days, those hidden interactions became national news. Handy was arrested by the FBI in a separate abortion-related case, and D.C. police retrieved five fetuses from her apartment. The activists said they had held on to the five larger fetuses, which they argue may have been from late-term abortions performed illegally, to turn them over to authorities. D.C. police have said the five fetuses appeared to have been aborted in accordance with city law.

Kuchinsky, 62, knew the activists’ actions would be seen as controversial, even among other abortion opponents. Still, he decided to bury the fetuses.

“The thought that came to me — and I’m not saying this is from the Lord — but the good Lord didn’t tell us, ‘Bury people in Arlington’ or ‘Bury them overlooking a river with scenery,’ ” the Catholic cleric told the Washington Post. “He just said to bury the dead.”

He said he put the little containers in layers of dirt in a private cemetery of some people he knows well, he said. He won’t say where.

West Virginia’s Catholic bishop, Mark Brennan, praised the priest, saying the service and burial “follow a long Christian tradition of practicing the corporal work of mercy for the dead, honoring their physical remains and burying them with love. I fully approve Father Kuchinsky’s caring actions. They remind us that these were real human children, not lifeless things — until their lives were unjustly taken from them….”

The above comes from an April 25 story in the Washington Post.