by Fr. Robert J Carr
Columbia Heights, Washington, DC–Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, celebrated Mass at the Sacred Heart Shrine in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, DC on Friday to kick off the Archdiocese’s participation in the annual March for Life in the United States’ Capital.
Proclaiming that “Every life is precious,” the Boston Archbishop and member of the Pope’s group of Cardinal advisors called for a community rooted in solidarity. Approximately, one thousand parishioners from Massachusetts listened as the beloved Capuchin friar built upon a theme of caring for all at birth and death. He described the recent celebration of the Sacrament of the Sick with one of the founders of the Ice Bucket Challenge who is in the last stages of ALS, commonly known in the US as Lou Gehrig’s disease and he used the experience to call to reject assisted suicide.
“Hitler,” the Cardinal said “promoted mercy killing.” He added that it sends a dangerous signal that those with disabilities are better off dead.
“We need each other at the beginning and end of our lives.” he emphasized. “This is why we are here.”
“Mercy and compassion are not the acts of ending the suffering person’s life,” He said. “Mercy and Compassion are really taking care of people and letting people take care of us.”
Suffering, he explained, is a call for all to care for those with disabilities and for the yet to be born. The prelate countered that in a country where extreme individualism is a virtue, caring for others at their birth and at their death is the call of solidarity.
The Cardinal said that according to Cardinal Carlo Martini the once archbishop of Milan who died in 2012, the Gospels show that Jesus had a higher priority for caring for the suffering than he did for preaching.
He ended his talk by citing three people that had inspired him greatly, Nellie Gray, the founder of the March for Life in Washington, DC. The first march was by about twenty-thousand people, according to Cardinal O’Malley, since then, he explained, it has reached over a half a million.
Mother Theresa whom he said “touched the lives of thousand and thousands of people.”through the order she founded.
Finally, he spoke about Dorothy Day, whom he met at the Catholic Worker House in Washington, DC when he was a young priest. Day who is a declared Servant of God, the first step toward canonization, was a a convert to Catholicism who had both an abortion and later a child out of wedlock, but who came to the Catholic faith and became devout a great advocate of social justice. Day, a journalist and one-time contemporary to US playwright Eugene O’Neil, embraced the corporal and spiritual works of mercy as the guide to Catholic action.
Citing these three, the prelate stated that each one of us can make a difference.
“At the beginning and end of life we need each other.” he said.
“Our task is to turn the crowd into the community.” he proclaimed speaking of the powerful effect of caring for others.
“My hope and my prayer for us today is that we know that God has put us here for a purpose.”
The mass began with Boston Archdiocesan Youth Ministry Director, Father Matt Williams, teaching that “Witness to life starts with the Eucharist.” He added “the first aspect of being pro-life is being fully alive with the life you have been given.”
The march, which took place later in the day, had hundreds of thousands, if not over a half a million, participants who marched from the far end of the Washington Mall, not far from the White House, to the US Supreme Court. The march memorializes the decision of the US Supreme Court to legalize abortion in January of 1973. Among those who spoke at the pre-march rally was Vice-President of the United States Mike Pence, a Catholic and former governor of the US state of Indiana. Pence is the first Vice-President to speak to the marchers. No president has spoken at the rally.
This was 44th march.
BOSTON STRONG: WE CHOOSE LIFE!
by Fr. Robert J Carr
Washington, DC–Members of the Archdiocese of Boston’s contingent to the March for Life in Washington, DC, came up with a chant for the event. Led by youth ministry director Fr. Matt Williams, who began yelling: “Boston Strong.” Participants, including hundreds of youth, responded: “We Choose Life.”
“Boston Strong,” a slogan common in the New England city, began in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks that hit that community on Patriot’s Day 2013 at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The event is dramatized well in the recently released movie Patriot’s Day. “Boston Strong” remains the slogan for the city.
The Boston group contained about one thousand participants of various ages and walks of life, from Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Archbishop to adult laity, priests, bishops, nuns, brothers and sisters and hundreds of youth and young adults and even a teen with Down’s Syndrome. Among the participants was Mother Olga, a convert to Catholicism and a native Iranian who formed her own order the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth now based in Quincy, Massachusetts. She and Fr. Matt Williams led a prayer in front of the Supreme Court building for the nation and a call for an end to abortion here in the US. They included a prayer for the intercession of St. Frances Cabrini (interred in New York City) St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (interred in Emmitsburg, Maryland) and all of the American saints. The prayer was the culmination of the Archdiocese’s participation in the event in Washington for 2017.
Photo credits: George Martell, Archdiocese of Boston