Auxiliary Bishop Peter Byrne, at a Mass opening the Prayer Vigil for Life at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, said, “This is a special night. This is a night of prayer for life.”
The Prayer Vigil for Life was held Jan. 21 for the parishes of the archdiocese. It took place on the eve of the 45th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion across the United States.
The Mass, offered at 5:30 p.m., drew more than 1,200. The vigil included praying the Remembrance Rosary and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, with hymns sung by Sisters of Life.
For the faithful unable to go to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., two days earlier, the prayer vigil at the cathedral was a local pilgrimage to support the culture of life.
Bishop Byrne said it is important to speak out against the culture of death, and to actively support the culture of life, especially “on the eve of this tragic anniversary,” and despite the negative views of the pro-life movement of many in the media and in politics.
The bishop, the episcopal vicar for Dutchess and Northern Westchester and Putnam counties, also spoke about a former Planned Parenthood employee in Texas who stopped supporting that agency’s abortion practices, became a Catholic and began advocating the culture of life.
“It was truly an amazing act of grace,” the bishop said.
During the Prayer of the Faithful, most of the intentions were related to promoting the “culture of life” mission, and the Sisters of Life led the singing of hymns.
“I think that the foundation of the pro-life movement is prayer — prayer and fasting to bring about a renewal of the sense of the sacredness of every human life,” Sister Mary Elizabeth, S.V., the vicar general of the Sisters of Life, told CNY before Mass.
“This is the most powerful thing that we can do – the Mass and prayer before the Eucharist.”
Sister Mary Elizabeth added, “Not everyone could make it (to the march), so this is a way that everyone can participate, and we can all be united...We were down at the March for Life on Friday, and we saw how many young people were there — and it was very hope-filled.”
She noted that the Sisters of Life have a mission called the Visitation Mission in Manhattan, and that staffers offer practical and emotional support to women who are pregnant and need help. “We provide for all of their needs; those women then choose whether to parent or to place for adoption. That’s a beautiful option,” Sister Mary Elizabeth said.
Among those in the congregation were Wally and Daryl Ore, a couple in their 20s. They got married in November, and are parishioners at St. Ladislaus in Hempstead, Long Island. Both were born and raised in the Philippines.
“It was a very good Mass, how they talked about the culture of life,” Mrs. Ore noted. “This brings us closer together, and closer to God.” Her husband added, “This is a wonderful event. The Mass had a very important message.”
Sister Virginia Joy, S.V., director of the archdiocesan Respect Life Office, told CNY after Mass, “It is important for us to gather in prayer. That’s really our best way to combat this contempt for human life.”