Diocesan Respect Life Mass draws record-breaking attendance

by Joan Kurkowski-Gillen

North Texas Catholic

January 27, 2017

A woman sets a votive candle at the foot of the altar before the diocesan Respect Life Mass concelebrated by Bishop Michael Olson and diocesan priests. There were 59 votive candles set before the altar, one for each of the million babies who died from abortion during the past 45 years. (NTC photo/Joan Kurkowski-Gillen)
 




FORT WORTH — A record-breaking crowd of 400 people turned out for the Respect Life Mass concelebrated by Bishop Michael Olson and other diocesan priests on Jan. 23 in St. Patrick Cathedral.

"We come together on this somber occasion to thank God for the gift of life, and to renew our responsibility to care for those most dependent among us, the integrity of conscience, and the sanctity of human life," the bishop said, welcoming the congregation.

Held every year since 2002, the diocese-wide liturgy remembers the 59 million lives lost to abortion since the U.S Supreme Court legalized the procedure on Jan. 22, 1973. The Mass is also an opportunity to offer a blessing to the respect life workers who volunteer for various parish and diocesan pro-life ministries.

Before the Mass began, pro-life supporters and those who work in respect life ministries placed at the foot of the altar 59 red votive candles, one for each of the million babies who died from abortion during the past 45 years. A Book of Innocents, carried up by Rachel Ministries volunteer Lisa Jones, memorialized children who were aborted in the diocese.

Calling the legalization of abortion "one of the most terrible events in the history of the United States," the bishop said the landmark decision was a triumph of privacy over the interdependent bond that comes with community, family life, parenthood, and marriage.

Approximately 400 people packed into St. Patrick Cathedral for the annual Respect Life Mass on Jan. 23. (NTC photo/Joan Kurkowski-Gillen)

"Privacy is a right made up to justify not only abortion, but the dissolution of marriage [and] of family life, and a host of selfish things," he asserted. "The right of privacy rips us from the interdependency which is by nature God's design."

Under the guise of privacy, people believe they can do whatever they want, whenever they want without accountability or consequences. A child is not a choice, Bishop Olson reminded the gathering. "We're talking about the human person created in the image and likeness of God — who has a name and has a story."

Organizers credited a growing awareness of pro-life issues for the impressive number of attendees at this year's Mass.

"The bishop supports the whole endeavor of the Respect Life Office and more people are becoming aware of life issues," explained Betsy Kopor, coordinator of Rachel Ministries, a diocesan program that provides healing retreats for post-abortive women.

She believes the recent presidential election also sparked interest and conversation about pro-life work. Events like the national March for Life, taking place on Jan. 27 in Washington, D.C., are also drawing attention to the issue.

"It was a beautiful Mass and I'm grateful so many people came," she said.

Members of the Fort Worth Catholic Community for the Deaf were part of the congregation. The evening liturgy was a first-time experience for Stephen Damkiw.

"The whole idea of abortion is ridiculous. We need to support life," he said through deaf interpreter Connie Martin. "God chose life for us and we need to choose life for others."

FORT WORTH — A record-breaking crowd of 400 people turned out for the Respect Life Mass concelebrated by Bishop Michael Olson and other diocesan priests on Jan. 23 in St. Patrick Cathedral.

Published (until 12/27/2035)
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