November 2, 2011 // Local

Prayer is greatest weapon in pro-life movement

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, right, celebrates the special Respect Life Mass with Father Jason Freiburger, vice chancellor of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend concelebrating at St. Andrew Church on Oct. 27 as part of the 40 Days for Life campaign.

Respect Life Mass celebrated at St. Andrew

By Kay Cozad

More photos from this event can be found in the photo gallery.

FORT WAYNE — Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades celebrated a Respect Life Mass at St. Andrew Church on Oct. 27 to pray for an end to abortion. The Mass, concelebrated by Franciscan Father David Mary Engo and Father Jason Freiburger, vice chancellor of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, was celebrated as a part of the 40 Days for Life campaign.

The chilly rain that dampened the morning did nothing to hinder the numbers of pro-life supporters that filled the church. And as the altar servers lit the candles in preparation for this special Mass, the melodic voices of the Franciscan Brothers Minor drifted through the sanctuary as they prayed their Morning Office.

Bishop Rhoades opened the Mass with a grateful welcome to the congregation and reminded them that “prayer is our greatest weapon” against the culture of death.

In his homily Bishop Rhoades spoke of “perseverance in pro-life efforts, in proclaiming and serving the gospel of life,” and referenced the Gospel of the day saying, “Jesus said to the Pharisees: ‘I must continue on My way today, tomorrow, and the following day…’ He would not forsake His mission.”

“Our mission of evangelizing must not be thwarted,” the bishop continued, “Our mission includes the defense of the life and dignity of every human person, including the innocent unborn.”

Bishop Rhoades cited Blessed John Paul II’s encyclical, “The Gospel of Life,” written 16 years ago, but relevant even now by saying, “A great prayer life is urgently needed. … Jesus Himself has shown us by His own example that prayer and fasting are the first and most effective weapons against the forces of evil.”

Challenging those in attendance, Bishop Rhoades asked, “How do we love our pro-choice opponents, our enemies and those who attack or malign us? … It is only with the help of God’s grace, which is why we need prayer and the strength of the Holy Eucharist.”

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, far right with microphone, leads the crowd of students and adults in the recitation of the rosary outside an area abortion facility on Oct. 27 as part of the 40 Days for Life campaign to end abortion.

He reminded the pro-life congregation that their service to the Gospel must include help for women who are facing crisis pregnancies and referred to the Women’s Care Centers’ outreach in the area.

The bishop also invited his flock to pray for those who have suffered from abortion saying, “The Church reaches out with the love and mercy of our Savior to women who have been harmed by the sin of abortion.”

Bishop Rhoades concluded his homily with a prayer that the Blessed Mother might “look upon us and upon our nation. And upon Fort Wayne,” and assist with prayers for life.

Lindsey Zehr, who attended the Respect Life Mass, said, “It’s such an important thing. People need to flock to it. I pray for them to have a change of heart and know it’s the will of God for them.”

Jenn MacDonald, who brought her five children to the Mass, felt the importance of the celebration and said, “I came because the lives of the children are worth the effort of my prayers and sacrifice.”

Following the Mass a convoy of faithful traveled with the bishop and Franciscan Brothers to an area abortion facility where they were joined by community members and students from area schools, including St. Vincent de Paul School. Though the rain continued to pelt the umbrella-laden crowd, they remained steadfast in their witness of love and mercy to those entering the abortion facility.

Bishop Rhoades led the passionate group in a recitation of the luminous mysteries of the rosary, while small clusters of students held hand-crafted crosses and special rosaries. As their prayers descended to the heavens, one man exiting the abortion facility entered into a concentrated conversation with a pro-life witness.

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