PROVIDENCE — Gloria Purvis received a warm welcome at McVinney Auditorium on Saturday, Oct. 16, as she captivated the crowd with her warm personality, compelling personal stories and strong conviction to the Catholic faith.
This speaking event was sponsored by the diocesan Office of Life and Family and the Knights of Columbus as part of the 150th Anniversary of the Diocese of Providence. In a special welcome, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin said the anniversary is the time to reflect on the gifts, blessings and graces God has given to the church for 150 years and renew our commitment to the Lord and to the Church.
“Your presence is very affirming and we are very pleased to welcome Gloria Purvis to the diocese today. She’s a well-known speaker on human dignity and human life and how these things are tied together. I know she will give us a wonderful reflection today.”
Purvis delivered a talk entitled “Born and Unborn: The Integrity of the Human Person in the Womb and Society.” At a young age, she learned to live out her faith boldly, converting to Catholicism as a child following many life-changing moments. Since then she has dedicated herself to defending the gift of life.
“I just fell in love with every bit of it,” she said. “I have always had a hunger to be devoted to the Church. If you say ‘yes’ to God, boy does he do great things for you.”
Purvis shared personal experiences including her own challenges with fertility and in time the joy of becoming pregnant with her daughter — only to be encouraged by doctors to consider abortion at the risk of her baby being born with disabilities.
Sonia Morales held her infant son in her arms as she listened to Purvis speak. Her message hit close to home as Morales thought of her own daughter, lovingly known in the local community and nationwide, as “Baby Angela.” Morales was 16 weeks into her pregnancy when doctors told her that her baby would not live after birth. After refusing suggestions to have an abortion many times, Morales carried her to term embracing life and treasuring every single moment they had with Baby Angela until she died at the age of 3 years and 8 months from anencephaly.
“I really liked her talk about respecting all human life — unborn and born. And especially when she mentioned about babies with disability and I was remembering my daughter Angela. Her words were very comforting as well because I know we have to defend all life. It doesn’t matter how sick or how short their life is going to be. We have to defend them. I carry no regrets for having done that because we know we did absolutely everything to support her.”
Purvis addressed the sin of racism in society and in the Catholic Church.
“That is an attack against the dignity of the human person,” she said. “Each of us has a common ancestor in God and because of that we are all brothers and sisters — we’re one human family. That common bond we have should motivate us to love one another and to work for the common good of everyone.
“We need to be aware of the things that rend the bonds of the human family,” she added. “We know euthanasia, we know abortion, but have we thought about racism?”
Purvis explained that the attacks on the human person have a lot to do with us thinking we know better than God.
“We have some nerve. I think about life in the womb. How is it we come to even question what grows in the womb of a woman is human. It’s just illogical. It’s a conditioning of lies. It’s the same approach as racism. The devil isn’t very original. It’s the same approach over and over to get us at each other’s throats and feel justified in the horror that we do to the human family. We can do better.”
With the challenges of today’s world, Purvis encouraged listeners to have hope and know that change can happen when they look at trails through the light of the faith.
“Step by step, and by being faithful to God, we can remake this world. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. There’s so much hope and so much help from above for us. Do not be discouraged, be joyful and know that God has made a place for each and every one of us in heaven. And I hope that we can get there together.”
Following the presentation was an opportunity for a Q&A session with Purvis. Many of those gathered found her time at McVinney Auditorium to be enlightening and inspired.
Knights of Columbus leader Michael A. Benson shared that “Gloria was engaging, informative, timely, inspiring and relatable. I could have listened to her for hours.”
Purvis, a graduate of Cornell University, is now a full time stay-at-home mother and consultant for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Religious Liberty. She is currently the creator, host and executive producer of “The Gloria Purvis Podcast” in collaboration with America Media.
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