Lay faithful, religious, priests, seminarians and, once again, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Rutilio del Riego made the trip to downtown Los Angeles for this show of Pro-Life unity. Mary Huber, Director of the Diocesan Office Respect Life and Pastoral Care, has attended all six OneLife LA events and said the day never fails to give her a renewed sense of hope.
“This year was particularly joyful,” she said. “Meeting the hundreds of fun, spirited people from our Diocese, the Respect Life ministers and their teams, students from our Newman ministries, our seminarians and, of course, our local Knights of Columbus that relentlessly offer their time and talent, the event evolved into a beautiful family reunion.”
Bishop del Riego said he was encouraged by the youthful flavor of the day.
“There were lots of young people and that is a good, good thing,” he said. “It means that the message of the sacredness of life is there already.
“We had witnessing from people to respect the sacredness of life from beginning to end – including the disabled, the refugees – all aspects and stages of human life.”
Organized by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Office of Life, Justice, and Peace, OneLife LA was once again held the same day as — and just blocks away from — the Women’s March, a demonstration in favor of abortion rights, which, like OneLife LA, is timed to coincide with the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. (The first OneLife event was held in 2015, while the first Women’s March was in 2017.)
Contrary to initial media reports, the Los Angeles Police Department estimated that OneLife attendance actually exceeded that of the Women’s March by several thousand this year, Angelus News learned.
Not far from a large red banner lining the park fence that simply read “Choose Love,” Archbishop José H. Gomez spoke in English and Spanish about how those words resonate.
“We have a purpose in this world and that purpose is to love and to give life to others,” said Archbishop Gomez. “We are one family, and we have one mission. God is calling us to sanctify the world, to redeem this world through our works of love, through our deeds of compassion.
“We cannot remain indifferent when we see all the suffering and injustice in the world. This is not God’s way, this is not what God wants for his children.
“So, God gave us this mission. He is calling us to oppose and overcome the evils we see around us. Our God will not let us rest until every human life is respected, and that begins with the life of the child who wants to be born.”
That message of all human dignity was also reflected in the variety of nearly 20 booths that circled the park, ranging from assistance and information about foster care, sheltering the homeless, combating human trafficking, pregnancy services, care for creation, supporting immigrants and refugees, and ministering to families of the incarcerated.
Later, at the Requiem Mass for the Unborn, the day wrapped up with a more solemn tone. Thousands packed the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels for the liturgy, a quarter century-old Catholic LA tradition, held in memory of all who died from abortion in the past year. Some 175 candles were lit during the Mass and placed in the window of the cathedral colonnade to remain on display.
“Every time a child dies in the womb, something of our humanity dies as well,” said Archbishop Gomez in his homily at the Mass. “And over these long decades of legalized abortion, we all know we have fallen short of what is expected of us.”
Inviting faithful to pray “in sorrow and repentance,” the archbishop emphasized that building a culture of life is a responsibility shared by all.
Keynote speaker Cyntoia Brown-Long, delivering a powerful 10-minute testimony at the end of the rally, told about how she survived 15 years in prison going back to the age of 16, arrested for killing a man who solicited her for sex. She was released from prison last August.
“For much of my life, I was imprisoned by the lie that my life did not matter,” Brown-Long said. “And I’m here today to tell you that God freed me from it all.
“My road to redemption began with a community of people who showed me Jesus loves us irrespective of the labels society puts on us. He loves us despite the worst things we may have done. …
“Every interaction we have is an opportunity for us to be a life of Christ. I hope our interaction today touches the heart of someone who may be feeling their life doesn’t matter. You do matter. And God sees you.”
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