Thousands speak for unborn on Roe anniversary

| January 22, 2015 | 0 Comments
Alyssa Fogarty, a sophomore at St. Catherine University in St. Paul and a member of Most Holy Redeemer in Montgomery, walks from the Cathedral of St.Paul to the State Capitol following the annual Prayer Service for Life at the cathedral Jan. 22, the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in America.  Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Alyssa Fogarty, a sophomore at St. Catherine University in St. Paul and a member of Most Holy Redeemer in Montgomery, walks from the Cathedral of St.Paul to the State Capitol following the annual Prayer Service for Life at the cathedral Jan. 22, the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in America. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Madonna Arel got a seat early Jan. 22 for the annual Prayer Service for Life at the Cathedral of St. Paul.

She was there, the parishioner of St. John the Baptist in New Brighton said, “because I believe life needs to be brought forward. There’s no respect for life any more.”

Monica Mahon said she’s been coming to pro-life events for at least 40 years on Jan. 22.

Mahon, from St. Mary in Winsted, said, “It’s a sad, sad day in our country. I feel our country needs to protect the legal rights of unborn babies.”

Todd Ehalt of St. Joseph in West St. Paul was there, too, “to show my support for the pro-life movement and aborted babies, and to show there are people who care and that Jesus cares.”

Arel, Mahon and Ehalt were part of a standing-room-only crowd for the prayer service.

From left, Olivia Illi, Mara Yapello and Izzi Boo of St. Jude of the Lake in Mahtomedi join with others in prayer at the Cathedral of St. Paul during the Prayer Service for Life. They all are students at Mahtomedi High School and run Students for Life at their school.  Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

From left, Olivia Illi, Mara Yapello and Izzi Boo of St. Jude of the Lake in Mahtomedi join with others in prayer at the Cathedral of St. Paul during the Prayer Service for Life. They all are students at Mahtomedi High School and run Students for Life at their school. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

When those younger than 25 were asked to raise their hands, about half of the 2,500-plus in the cathedral put their hands in the air.

The show of hands drew spontaneous, exuberant applause.

“Your courage gives us hope,” said emcee Jean Stolpestad, director of the Office of Marriage, Family and Life in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

In thanking those who have attended the annual service during the 41 years since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, Stolpestad noted, “Your fidelity gives us all hope.

“Forty-one years is a long time, and all can be discouraged,” she added, “but Christ never gives up on us; can we be any different?”

Formidable task

Bishop Lee Piché, auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese, opened the prayer service. He noted, “We have the task of creating a culture of life, a task that is formidable and seems impossible. But nothing is impossible with God.

“We must remain faithful to the task, constant in safe-guarding the dignity of every human life.”

In his homily, Bishop Piché said, “We need to keep asking the question, ‘What kind of culture do we want in this country?’ ”

His answer: “We want a culture in which every human person not only has the right to come into the world, but is embraced and loved.”

Alternating preaching in English and Spanish, Bishop Piché said that through prayer that day “we tell the Lord he may use us as instruments for peace, for voices for the voiceless.

“Too many voices have been silenced in our time,” he said. “Let them speak now, and let us speak for them.”

A pro-life generation

Bishops of dioceses across Minnesota attended the prayer service and reinforced the importance of the participation of younger Catholics in both prayer and the March for Life to the State Capitol to attend the annual rally there.

Aja Vogel of St. Peter in Forest Lake and her son Ryker listen to Bishop Lee Piché during the Prayer Service for Life.  Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Aja Vogel of St. Peter in Forest Lake and her son Ryker listen to Bishop Lee Piché during the Prayer Service for Life. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Bishop Paul Sirba of the Diocese of Duluth said that the Jan. 22 events are “an opportunity to witness to life and the great gift that it is, and to invite the next generation to appreciate God’s gift of life.”

For him personally, he added, it was a way for him to celebrate the 91st birthday of his mother, Helen Sirba. “By her example,” he said, “since 1973 our family has been pro-life.”

Bishop John Quinn of Winona greeted busloads of faithful from his diocese after the prayer service.

“The reason for this public demonstration for life is because our young people are very pro-life, and our young people are leading the way,” Bishop Quinn said.

“Our country is built on young people,” he added. “In time we will be a pro-life country again.”

New Ulm Bishop John LeVoir reinforced the importance of continuing to pray for an end to abortion, “because prayer is what converts hearts,” he said.

“This filled cathedral is a powerful witness,” Bishop LeVoir said. “This is the new evangelization — prayer and getting out front.”

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