At Holy Mass for Life, local faithful encouraged to courageously stand for the rights of the marginalized


EAST GREENWICH — On Sunday, Jan. 21, Bishop Richard G. Henning led the annual Holy Mass for Life at Our Lady of Mercy Parish in East Greenwich. Organized by the Office of Life and Family Ministry, the annual Mass raises awareness of the pro-life movement and inspire the faithful and the local community to commit themselves to protecting life at all stages.
In his homily, Bishop Henning contrasted the initial emotional response associated with falling in love and the virtue of charity. While both are valuable and necessary, Bishop Henning noted, the defining feature of the virtue of charity is the fact that it is born out of a choice, a commitment to pursue the good, something that reaches its culmination in committing one’s life to Christ in discipleship and serving God’s will through love of neighbor.
Love and Christian discipleship require sacrifice, something which in the current political and social climate requires increased efforts to stand for the rights of the poor and marginalized, including and especially the unborn.
Mass was concelebrated by Father Bernard A. Healey, pastor of Our Lady of Mercy, and Monsignor Gerard O. Sabourin, pastor of St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Community in Exeter. Bishop Robert C. Evans was also in attendance.
The missionary image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was also on display. This particular image is one of four authentic copies of the original image of Our Lady of Guadelupe approved by the Archbishop of Mexico City to be presented at parishes throughout the world as an object of devotion.
After Mass, Our Lady of Mercy School students presented roses before the image while Lisa Cooley, coordinator of the diocesan Office of Life and Family Ministry, led the congregation in a prayer to Our Lady.It was during the pontificate of Pope St. John Paul II that Our Lady of Guadalupe came to be connected to the pro-life movement. In a sermon delivered during his 1999 visit to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, John Paul II noted how union with God through Christ is the source of inspiration for a new way of life which expresses itself most fully in defending the dignity of each individual.
“The Apostle Paul teaches us that in the fullness of time God sent his Son, born of a woman, to redeem us from sin and to make us his sons and daughters,” the Pope preached. “Accordingly, we are no longer servants but children and heirs of God (cf. Gal 4:4-7). Therefore, the Church must proclaim the Gospel of life and speak out with prophetic force against the culture of death. Dear brothers and sisters, the time has come to banish once and for all from the continent every attack against life,” the Pope noted, going on to call for an end to terrorism, torture, drug-trafficking, and the death penalty, and calling for initiatives to fight against poverty, racism and discrimination.
At the height of the sermon, Pope John Paul prayed to the Blessed Mother, “Grant that Christian families may exemplarily raise their children in the Church’s faith and in love of the Gospel, so that they will be the seed of apostolic vocations. Turn your gaze today upon young people and encourage them to walk with Jesus Christ.” It was as a result of this homily that Our Lady of Guadalupe became one of the most widely recognizable symbols among Catholics for initiatives to defend the family and the unborn.
“Our Lady of Guadalupe is the Patroness of the Unborn so it is very suitable that she travels during a life month from the office of Life and Family,” Lisa Cooley said. “Her message ties perfectly with the message of the sanctity of all life. Her apparition ended up saving many lives and continues to do so. It is important for people to know the beautiful, true story of this well documented event in our salvation history that continues to bring conversions of heart, healings, blessings and graces.”