PROVIDENCE — The annual Mass for Life was held on Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul. Sponsored by the diocesan Office of Life and Family Ministry, the liturgy was offered to ask for God’s blessings upon the pro-life movement.
The liturgy, which began at 9 a.m., was celebrated by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, with incoming Coadjutor Bishop Richard G. Henning and various priests from throughout the diocese concelebrating with Bishop Tobin.
“I welcome all who have come together this morning for the celebration of our Mass for Life. Thank you, each and every one of you, for coming out this morning,” Bishop Tobin said in his opening remarks at the start of Mass. Bishop Tobin also offered a special word of welcome to Bishop Henning.
“We come to celebrate and thank God for the gift of life, and we pray that with God’s help, God’s grace, we will renew our commitment to preserve, to protect the precious gift of life,” Bishop Tobin went on to say.
The homily was delivered by Father Jean Joseph Brice. Father Brice, who serves as the assistant pastor at St. Patrick’s Parish and St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Providence, began his sermon by noting the immense progress made by the pro-life movement in recent years.
“There is cause for rejoicing here. For almost 50 years, we marched, protested, fought back, spoke out, advocated in defense of the sacredness of life, educated our youth, stood with the families, and, most importantly, prayed. On this fiftieth anniversary, as of June 2022, on the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Roe v. Wade is no more. It is no more because of your hard work, of your tears, of your sacrifices. It is no more because what is on our side is always stronger than what’s on their side. So glory to God in the highest, and may peace be established upon God’s People.”
Father Brice said that in spite of the pro-life movement making major progress on a legal level, activism and moral vigilance is still necessary on the part of supporters of the pro-life movement. Obstacles to creating a society that truly respects life can be seen, Father Brice said, in the continued existence of such organizations as Planned Parenthood and the promotion of pro-LGBT and radical gender ideologies among the youth. All of this, Father Brice stated, represents an attack on the family. “To be pro-life is to be pro-God,” Father Brice noted.
He added that since the family is the cornerstone of civilization and primary means by which the faith is passed on from one generation to the next, “attack on the family is attack, in some way, on religion and society.”
Father Brice went on to affirm how abortion hurts both the unborn child as well as the mothers, noting how abortion is a violation of the image of God within the child and fills the mother with a sense of guilt and emotional torment.
“No one deserves to suffer that much,” he said. “How can we stop? How can we not fight and march and speak out against such atrocities?”
Pro-life activists must fight to uphold human dignity on all levels, Father Brice continued, which includes serving as a means in which the mercy of God can shine upon women who have undergone abortion, and showing women considering abortions that there are alternatives.
Also present in the cathedral during the Mass was an authentic copy of the original image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, is considered the patroness of the unborn, and therefore one of the key symbols of the pro-life movement in America.
At the end of Mass, Deacon Eduardo Birbuet offered a prayer to the Virgin of Guadalupe in Spanish. Following this, a group of students from St. Patrick’s High School in Providence approached the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, bowing before it and offering a rose to Our Lady.
After the students venerated the image of Our Mother, Lisa Cooley, the director of the diocesan Office of Life and Family Ministry, offered a short reflection in which she spoke of the power of Our Lady to renew society and give the Church the strength to carry out its evangelical mission.
“She is marching out in evangelization, and we must do that as well, with Our Lady by our side,” Cooley noted.
“Ask her to pray for you, and to pray for the world, because our world is in need of great healing.” Cooley went on to say.
In an interview after the Mass, Cooley described the current state of the pro-life movement.
“I think it’s a mixed bag of feelings,” she said.
“We are so grateful and thankful for the overturning of Roe. We have been praying for this for so long. We are so thankful to God for that to be overturned.”
“At the same time,” Cooley went on to say, “I think it sparked the pro-abortion side, so they’re on fire.”
But, she said, much work remains ahead for the pro-life movement.
“We need to be informed. We need to know our persuasion, our discussions to have with the pro-abortion side, but we need to do it in a loving way, as Our Lady does. She marches out in evangelization with love. We need to do that as well, and that’s the only way we will be able to change their hearts,” Cooley said.
After Mass, a small group remained in the cathedral and prayed the rosary in front of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, offering their prayers for an end to abortion.