Mass, prayer vigil and rallies stand for life in the public square

February 8, 2022

Above: Seven seminarians and one priest also made the journey to Washington, D.C. for the March for Life, joining tens of thousands in the nation’s capital amid subfreezing temperatures. (Photo courtesy of St. Mary’s Seminary) Below: Carol Herrera, who works for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, joined hundreds at the 2022 Texas Rally for Life in Austin on Jan. 22. (Photo courtesy of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston)

HOUSTON — What starts in prayer can change the world.

A chilly Saturday morning of prayer kicked off a series of events calling for greater respect for human life when the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart hosted a prayer vigil with Eucharistic Adoration on Jan. 22, the National Day of Prayer for Legal Protection for the Unborn. Daniel Cardinal DiNardo also celebrated the annual Respect Life Mass at 11 a.m. that same day.

During the prayer vigil before the Mass, dozens braved the frigid temperatures to come before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament in Eucharistic Adoration to pray for the legal protection of the unborn.

For roughly three hours, various people from around the Archdiocese, including the Knights of Columbus, Dominican Sisters of Mary Immaculate Province, Dominican Friars from Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Houston, Legion of Mary and other parish and prayer groups, rotated in praying with readings and Psalms from Sacred Scripture, songs and chant, petitions and other prayers before the Blessed Sacrament.
The events were coordinated and hosted by the Office of Pro-Life Activities, headed by Director Julie Fritsch.

At the beginning of the Mass, Cardinal DiNardo welcomed the several hundred faithful and said, “we are gathered here in Houston to celebrate the Liturgy, to pray, to ask for the intercession of the Lord, and in light of our prayers, to also promise our help to make sure that those in need, receive the [help], particularly women in unplanned pregnancies.”

Cardinal DiNardo encouraged everyone to unite in prayer for the “return of protection, legal protection, to all pre-born human life, to all children to be born on this day, that recalls the tragic anniversary of Roe v. Wade.”

In his homily, Cardinal DiNardo recalled St. John Paul II’s Evangelium Vitae (the Gospel of Life), which marks its 27th anniversary this year.

Referencing the pontiff’s encyclical, Cardinal DiNardo said, “every human person is willed into existence by the Lord. And therefore every human person though, this is just the first stage of our total union with God, even he says this terrestrial life is extremely important and is indeed unassailable that it be protected.”

He stressed the importance of remembering “the inestimable worth of each human being because each is a person made in the image and likeness of God, even when they don’t look that way.”

While not specifically addressing the court cases related to abortion being considered currently by the Supreme Court, Cardinal DiNardo said that a decision, any change, does not affect the goal to “care about people before they’re born and after they’re born, to help them along.” he said. “That’s what our faith tells us; that’s what our life tells us. And that’s why there’s such an inestimable worth to each and every person.”

A case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court involving a Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks is reported to be a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, a landmark 1971 decision that legalized abortion.

Cardinal DiNardo recalled an encounter he had with St. John Paul II.

At the conclusion of their meeting, the pope earnestly reminded a young Cardinal DiNardo to remember that “it’s always about the human person. Always.”

Doing so will not always be a “brilliant” experience, Cardinal DiNardo said, but it will mean that “we’ll do well because we will never leave aside the beauty, whether it’s an unborn child in the womb, or a suffering, aging person who may be dying... we never forget that beauty that God has implanted in each of us. We carry an image of His very life.”

At the end of the Mass, Cardinal DiNardo encouraged the attendees to remain steadfast in their faith.
“Thank you for your presence here today, for the prayer vigils beforehand, whether here or elsewhere, and for coming to this celebration of Mass today,” he said. “Your witness to the Gospel of Life in the world is very important.”

A witness for life in Austin, DC

While some Catholics turned out to pray at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, others also made the trek to the Texas State Capitol in Austin for the Texas Rally for Life and to Washington, D.C. for the March for Life.

Groups boarded buses bound for the Texas capital from a number of different departure points, including the St. Dominic Center Chancery near the Texas Medical Center, St. Anthony of Padua and Sts. Simon and Jude in The Woodlands, St. Justin Martyr in west Houston, St. Laurence in Sugar Land and St. Clare of Assisi in the Bay Area.

They joined other religious, school and parish communities for a nearly-two-mile march to the steps of the Texas State Capitol, where they rallied for an end to abortion and for the protection of all human life and heard from several speakers, including Bishop Joe Vásquez of Diocese of Austin and Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

The rally also hosted a large diaper drive to benefit clinics across Texas.

St. Mary’s Seminary officials said that seven seminarians and one priest also made the journey to Washington, D.C. for the March for Life, joining tens of thousands in the nation’s capital amid subfreezing temperatures.

They attended the annual National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Jan. 20. The vigil, presided over by Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, was held prior to the Jan. 21 March for Life in Washington.

In his homily, he took note of recent developments in which pro-life Americans may be able to take heart.

“We are deeply conscious that the Supreme Court is weighing Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. This case gives the high court an opportunity to undo the grave injustice it did in 1973 when in Roe v. Wade it decided that a whole class of human beings, the unborn, are outside the protection of the law, and thus ‘non-persons,’” Archbishop Lori said.