Special Mass promotes the sanctity of all life

During the rose ceremony, Deacon Gary Fowler gave a rose to Maddie Schaad who represented Mercy Academy and the school’s commitment to pro-life ministries. (Record Photo by Kayla Bennett)

The annual Mass for Life, celebrated this year on Jan. 14 at St. Gabriel Church, began with a procession of congregants carrying white roses. Sounds of a fetal heartbeat rang through the church.

The ceremony included 50 roses to represent the 50 years since the United States Supreme Court legalized abortion with the recently-overturned Roe v. Wade decision. The flowers represented resistance against the taking of a life.

While the issue of abortion was front and center during the liturgy, Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre, the celebrant, reminded the congregation that the sanctity of life extends beyond abortion.

“The dignity and sanctity of life continues to be disregarded” in multiple ways, the archbishop said, naming abortion, abuse of the elderly, capital punishment, the “evil sin of racism,” homelessness and hunger among them.

“Capital punishment is killing those who kill to show that killing is bad,” he explained in his homily.

Archbishop Fabre emphasized that there are three things to remember about every person: All people are cherished; all people are chosen; and all people are sent by God.

Celesta and Rick Arnold, Mass for Life organizers, spoke to the congregation before the rose ceremony during the Jan. 14 liturgy at St. Gabriel Church. The rose ceremony recognized schools, churches and organizations that are committed to pro-life ministries. (Record Photo by Kayla Bennett)

He also reminded the faithful that while it is “perfectly acceptable” for individual Catholics to identify with one pro-life issue that speaks to them, they must nonetheless stand in solidarity with all of the issues and offer support for the church’s position.

“We must ask ourselves questions,” he said. “Do I understand the evil of abortion? Do I understand the tragic nature of assisted suicide? Do I understand that capital punishment is an attack against the dignity of life and is unacceptable? … Do I respect the dignity of those racially different than me? … How do I respond to those who are hungry or homeless?

“While we might give our energy or resources to one of these, do I stand in solidarity against all of them?” he asked.

The Mass concluded with a rose ceremony for the dozens of schools, churches and organizations to show appreciation for their commitment to pro-life ministry. A representative from each was called up to receive a red rose as a symbol of this commitment.

Rick and Celesta Arnold, who have organized the Mass for Life for more than a decade, told listeners that even though Roe v. Wade was overturned last year, “the battle goes on.”

Members of the congregation came from across the Archdiocese of Louisville to attend this year’s Mass for Life. (Record Photo by Kayla Bennett)

“Pregnancy centers will need our help more than ever,” Rick Arnold said. “Saving lives is up to everyone. Please don’t assume someone else will do it. Stay informed. Pray. And we’re not just talking about the unborn. Every single person on this Earth deserves to be treated with love and dignity.”

Josette and Lane Goulet, members of Ascension Church, participated in both the opening rose ceremony and the concluding rose ceremony. Josette Goulet said the couple have been attending the Mass for Life for at least 30 years.

“We recognize the importance of prayer and the somewhat public witness to the sanctity of life of this Mass,” Josette Goulet said. The couple are part of the Respect Life Advocacy group at their church. “It’s important to bring people together from different organizations and parishes to show solidarity and join hearts and souls to help us be champions of advocacy. Sometimes you think you’re alone on the issue, but this lifts you up.”

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