Many gather for Mass, march and rally for life
By Enedelia J. Obregón
There was standing room only at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Austin for the Mass of Thanksgiving for the Gift of Human Life on Jan. 23. Bishop Joe Vásquez celebrated and Bishop Daniel Garcia concelebrated the Mass.
Groups from throughout the state came in buses for the Mass before attending the Texas Rally for Life at the Capitol. They came with their Defend Life signs in English and Spanish and wore T-shirts with symbols for the unborn, the elderly, the handicapped and imprisoned to show that all life is sacred. Many youth held signs saying “My generation will end abortion.”
Students from Holy Family Catholic School and St. Dominic Savio Catholic High School led the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy prior to the Mass. Choirs from the schools also joined the St. Vincent de Paul Children’s Choir.
A prayer for the Act of Consecration of Pro-Life Activities to Our Lady of Guadalupe was prayed after the Knights of Columbus processed with a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe. At the end of the Mass, Bishop Vásquez blessed roses that were distributed after the Mass.
In his homily, Bishop Vásquez noted that the statue depicts a pregnant woman, Mary carrying a valuable gift –– Jesus.
“It means we carry the burden of defending life,” he said. “We continue to believe all life is sacred.”
This includes opposing the death penalty. He said that just three days prior the state of Texas had executed Richard Masterson, 43, by chemical injection. This was Texas’ first execution of the year. Texas carried out 13 executions in 2015, nearly half of the 28 executions nationwide.
In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, the bishop reminded the faithful that Pope Francis has challenged Christians to express God’s love and mercy through corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
Bishop Vásquez also said the faithful should not be discouraged that abortion has been legalized for 43 years.
“Don’t think that our efforts have been in vain,” he said. “God will help us continue defending human life.’’
Those efforts will prevail because “this humble truth cannot be compromised,” he said. All are called to defend that truth.
“You and I cannot remain silent in the face of suffering,” he said.
That suffering includes that of children dying of hunger around the world and immigrants drowning on rafts after leaving their countries.
“Jesus is calling us to love one another” as he loves us, Bishop Vásquez said.
After the Mass, thousands from many different faiths and from across Texas gathered for the March and Rally for Life at the State Capitol.
DeKarlos Blackmon, diocesan director of Life, Charity and Justice, was amazed by the number of young people at the Mass and the rally.
“Young people helped make this celebration of the gift of human life a true gift to the Lord and a witness to the state of Texas and our nation,” he said.