CRANSTON – Committed pro-life supporters of all ages from Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts attended the annual Pro-Life Mass, March for Surviving Youth and Kick-Off Rally for 40 Days of Life last Saturday in an effort that calls attention to the need to respect life at all stages through prayer and outreach.
Following the Mass at St. Paul Church, celebrated by pastor Father Robert Forcier, chaplain of the diocesan Human Life Guild, pro-life supporters marched to the Women’s Medical Center of Rhode Island, where they recited the rosary and prayed to end abortion. The center is one of two clinics in Rhode Island where abortions are performed.
While the pro-life supporters expected to meet resistance during the prayer vigil, a small group of anti-life advocates stood silently in front of the clinic and held signs.
Paul Paille, 19, a member of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus Church, Nasonville, and a resident of Uxbridge, Mass., said that he attended the march to pray to stop the killing of unborn children.
The Rhode Island College sophomore said that he was encouraged to increase his participation in pro-life activities after attending the recent March for Life in Washington, D.C. He hopes to start a pro-life group on campus.
“It’s definitely an inspiring event,” he said. “You feel energy knowing that everybody’s there to stop abortion.”
Father Forcier noted in his homily that at one time or another, everyone has remained silent in the face of abortion by failing to challenge legislators and therefore they have allowed the “culture of death” to flourish.
He added that we must use the grace and fruits of baptism to help others experience their fullness by choosing life.
“This is the purpose and meaning behind the 40 Days for Life Lenten Campaign and everything we do in the name of life,” Father Forcier said. “We are called to reshape the world and restore a culture of life. Repent and believe in the good news. We are not alone. God is with us.”
During the rally held in the St. Paul School auditorium, participants listened to inspirational music provided by Stone Refuge, a Catholic musical group comprised of several young parishioners of St. Patrick Church, Providence.
Neil Grant, a junior at Bishop Hendricken High School, Warwick, was acknowledged as the 2012 Human Life Guild Youth Award winner. He was nominated by his parish, SS. John and James in West Warwick, for his unwavering support of pro-life activities, which include writing letters to government leaders, praying weekly the Women’s Medical Center, and teaching religious education classes at his parish.
Guest speaker Barth Bracy, executive director of Rhode Island Right to Life, expressed his admiration for “those who faithfully give peaceful, prayerful witness outside the abortion mills throughout these 40 days and beyond.
Bracy emphasized that this form of witness must be complemented by making the pro-life voice heard by elected officials, especially to voice their opposition to the Obama administration’s decision to mandate coverage of sterilization and contraceptives, even for religious organizations that object to such services.
“In America, our leaders exercise their authority in our names and with our consent,” he continued. “Thus if we remain silent as they pass anti-life laws, we become complicit.”
Eleanor Gendron, a parishioner of St. Teresa Parish, Pawtucket, said she attended the rally to support human life at every stage and “to be a witness for who are being brought to their death at abortion clinics.”
Gendron, a medical receptionist at a local hospital, said it was also important for pro-life supporters to pray for the doctors who perform abortions.
In his homily, Father Forcier told worshipers that Lent is a time for repentance.
“Repent and believe in the good news,” Father Forcier said, adding that the call to repent assures the faithful that despite their sins and failures God does not give up on his people.
“Therefore, by its very character, it strengthens our pro-life commitment during this season of repentance,” he said.
“There is no greater sin in our nation and our world culture than the sin of abortion from which we are called to repent,” Father Forcier continued. “All people, no matter how long they have been devoted to God’s way, must constantly renew their pro-life commitment.”
The annual Lenten pro-life events were coordinated by the diocesan Respect Life Office.
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