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MASS FOR LIFE Father Manny Cardoza, Pastor of Our Lady of Hope, San Bernardino, celebrates a Mass for Life and Reparation outside a local abortion clinic. The Masses are held regularly, drawing Catholics from around the Diocese.

Elizabeth Moreno, visibly pregnant, sat quietly in a San Bernardino parking lot as Father Manuel Cardoza celebrated the Eucharist – the source and summit of life in the Catholic faith. Just a few hundred yards behind her was Family Planning Associates (FPA) Women’s Health, a clinic where abortions are performed.

“It’s an odd feeling,” Moreno said, glancing over at the clinic after Mass. “I couldn’t imagine myself going through something like that. I just pray that it happens less and less.”

That sentiment was shared by more the more than 70 people who joined Fr. Cardoza for a Mass for Life and Reparation on the morning of Aug. 27. The monthly Masses held near abortion clinics are coordinated by Our Lady of Hope Parish, where Fr. Cardoza serves as Pastor, but they draw people from all over the Diocese who feel called to publicly witness the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of human life.

“It’s part of my faith,” said Liz Kaulbach, a parishioner at St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in Yucaipa. She wore a gray T-shirt with ‘6-24-22’ emblazoned on the front, marking the date of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that overturned Roe vs. Wade. “We should respect life from conception to natural death.”

While many have been attending the San Bernardino area Masses for years, there is added urgency this fall for the Catholic faithful to make a public witness for life. Following the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, California elected leaders placed a measure on the Nov. 8 state ballot that would permanently legalize abortion, without limitations, in the California Constitution. The measure, Proposition 1, was on the minds of many who gathered for the Aug. 27 Mass.

“Newsom wants to make this a sanctuary state for abortion,” said David Calhoun.

Added Mary Kay Woodward, from St. Catherine of Siena in Rialto, “it only hypes up what we have to do here, locally. The other side is booming. It’s craziness.”

Kaulbach, who is involved in the Respect Life Ministry at St. Frances, Yucaipa, said she and others are working hard to emphasize the importance of the No on Prop. 1 campaign with parishioners. “A lot of people are apathetic,” she acknowledged. “They don’t want to get involved in things.”

In his homily, Fr. Cardoza specifically mentioned Prop. 1 as “going against human dignity and human life.” But he also encouraged the people to broaden their commitment to life beyond the issue of abortion. He pointed to the extreme poverty in San Bernardino as an example.

“There’s a lot of indifference to the fact that people are living in such misery here. They’re barely hanging on,” Fr. Cardoza preached. “To be pro-life isn’t just to come here and pray. It’s standing against the systems that perpetuate this kind of lifestyle. We have to support a culture that allows life to flourish.”

At the same time, Fr. Cardoza praised the dedication of the faithful who began gathering outside San Bernardino area abortion clinics to pray the Rosary more than a decade ago. When he became Administrator at Our Lady of Hope in 2014, he wanted to lend support to their powerful witness.

“Bringing the Eucharist, it’s an encouragement for people who have been coming here for years,” he said. “As clergy, we want to help people. We’re not here to judge anyone or condemn anyone.”

The next Mass of Life and Reparation will take place on Sept. 24 at 9 a.m. near the Planned Parenthood clinic at 1873 Commercenter Dr. in San Bernardino.