RIVERSIDE — About 50 people gathered on Saturday, Sept. 18, at the Guardian Angel Statue at Gate of Heaven Cemetery to participate in the Office of Life and Family’s commemoration of the National Day of Remembrance, a moment to remember all aborted children, as well as all babies who have lost their lives.
The event, held in a section of the diocesan cemetery where babies who have passed are buried, featured the singing of hymns and praying of the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary, along with a scripture reading and reflection by Father Eric Silva, assistant pastor at St. Luke Parish in Barrington.
“On this day we remember all babies lost, not just to abortion, but also to miscarriage, stillbirth or illness — all babies and children taken too soon,” said Cooley, coordinator of the Office of Life and Family. “We honor these babies because they are a blessing.”
Father Silva, who serves as assistant pastor at St. Luke Church in Barrington, spoke of why it is important to gather together in such ceremonies each year.
“It brings dignity to these occasions. It communicates God’s love and his compassion. It reminds the world of things that are important in our lives and that should be regarded as being sacred in everyone’s lives,” he said.
He noted that it reminds the world of how precious those little ones who were taken too soon are in God’s eyes.
“We stand here on the side of the highway in this beautiful cemetery to remind the world of their dignity, to remind the world of the meaning of life at its precious stages. No matter what happened to them we know they too had dignity and are precious in God’s eyes,” Father Silva said.
Sonia Morales, who gained a nationwide following for the staunch spiritual support she engendered for her daughter — known affectionately as Baby Angela — until she died at 3 years 8 months from anencephaly, read the names of other very young children who died from the incurable illness.
“Sometimes our babies are not mentioned and we want people to remember them. Even though they did not live that long, they were precious to us and we would like everyone to honor and mention their names,” said Morales, who attended the event along with her husband Rony, daughter Elizabeth, 12; and sons Alejandro, 4, and Santiago, 2 months.
Next week, the annual celebration of 40 Days for Life will begin with a new event, called the Jericho Walk, a collaborative event between the Office of Life and Family and Rhode Island Right to Life.
The walk, being done this year in lieu of a traditional 40 Days for Life kickoff rally, is named after the biblical city of Jericho. It will begin in the parking lot of St. Patrick Church on Saturday, Sept. 25 at 10 a.m.
“It’s going to be a peaceful and prayerful walk to the Statehouse,” Cooley said, where participants will walk around the building three times while carrying signs showing their support for life.
Then, on Sunday, Oct. 3, Life Chain Sunday, from 2-3 p.m., the Office of Life and Family has encouraged parishes throughout the diocese to host events that bring public witness to all life, born and unborn, with a visual statement of solidarity, a testament to the Church that supports the sanctity of all human life from the moment of conception to natural death.
Human Life Guild Day will be held on Saturday, Oct. 16, beginning with a Mass for Life at 9:30 a.m. at the Cathedral of S.S. Peter and Paul. Bishop Thomas J. Tobin will be the main celebrant and homilist.
Following the Mass, at 11 a.m., there will be a special event to mark the ongoing celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Diocese of Providence.
Gloria Purvis, a national pro-life speaker, as well as a radio personality and Catholic commentator, will speak on “Born and Unborn: The Integrity of the Human Person in The Womb and Society,” at 11 a.m. in the McVinney Auditorium.
Lastly, on Oct. 29-31 the Office of Life and Family will host a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat, a supportive post-abortion weekend retreat of healing offered in both English and Spanish.
“We must always be ready to come together to suffer, sacrifice, pray and stand up for life,” Cooley said.
For more information and locations of local life chains, to register for the Gloria Purvis presentation or the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat, contact Lisa Cooley at 401-278-2518, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.