Respect Life Month begins with Mass at cathedral, Life Chains around diocese

Bishop Louis Tylka greets Nancy Olson of Morton, a member of the Christ Child Society of Central Illinois, after the Respect Life Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria on Oct. 2. The Christ Child Society makes layettes for babies and families in need. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Creating a culture of life requires more than changing laws, according to Bishop Louis Tylka.

“Much more it’s changing hearts, helping people to understand the sacredness and the value of each life,” he said as he celebrated Mass on Respect Life Sunday at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria.

“And it’s not only the issue of abortion. It’s all the issues that confront and challenge the sanctity of life,” he said, including violence on the streets, war in our world, and poverty, hunger, lack of education, housing and clothing among them.

“We cannot focus on one of them. We must focus on them all because they’re all challenges to the Gospel that Jesus has preached. They’re all challenges to the culture of life,” the bishop explained.

That’s why it’s good that the church takes time each October to call us to this awareness, he said.

The readings for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time offer words of support for those who stand up for life, Bishop Tylka added, with the prophet Habakkuk saying “Keep at it. Be patient. The vision will come to fruition.” At the same time, St. Paul urges the followers of Christ to remain steadfast in their suffering for the Gospel.

NO EASY TASK

“This is who we are and it’s who we are called to be as disciples of the Lord,” the bishop said. “To have our own minds and hearts changed so we buy into and live out the culture of life, the Gospel of Life, so that we can then go out and give witness in our own ways and in those situations we are presented with to encourage others to have their minds and hearts changed if they do not see or value life in the same way that we do.”

Joining Bishop Louis Tylka for the Respect Life Mass on Oct. 2 were members of his family, including (from left) Joe and Kathy Jablonski; his father, Louis; Laura Warzecha; his sister, Tésa Dunning; and Ted Warzecha. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Bishop Tylka acknowledged that this is no easy task, especially since there seems to be so much against us.

The overturning of Roe vs Wade does not mean the fight is over, for example. He said there is still much to be done.

It is at times like this that disciples must turn to the Gospel, he said.

“It is only for, with and in the Lord that we will truly succeed,” Bishop Tylka told those sitting in front of him. “It is only in, with and for the Lord that our life will truly bear fruit. It is only in, with and for the Lord that the Gospel of Life will truly take root in our world.”

God always responds by giving us what is necessary, he assured them.

“Because in the end, he gave us life,” Bishop Tylka said.

During the intercessions, prayers were offered for:

  • Those who dedicate themselves to promoting and defending the sanctity of human life, especially those who are being persecuted;
  • Those who are suffering from the effects of abortion in their life, that they may experience mercy and healing;
  • Young people, that God may raise up from among them pro-life leaders; and
  • The protection of all who are in danger from the culture of death — may they be cared for from the womb to the tomb.

LIFE CHAINS HELD

Sondra McEnroe of St. Mark Parish in Peoria and a longtime member of Central Illinois Right to Life, and Pat Snell of Sacred Heart Parish in Peoria, pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet as they sit in front of Planned Parenthood during the Heart of Illinois Life Chain in Peoria on Oct. 2. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

For many attending Masses on Respect Life Sunday, their witness was not over. Peaceful, prayerful witnesses known as Life Chains were held in communities throughout the Diocese of Peoria.

The Heart of Illinois Life Chain, sponsored by Central Illinois Right to Life, drew people to Knoxville Avenue in Peoria. They lined the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood, from Destiny for Women on the north to the Women’s Care Center on the south.

Interspersed with pro-life supporters were advocates for abortion, who carried signs identifying the medical procedure as “health care.”

Motorists honked their horns in support of both sides of the issue, although Ken Goins, president of Central Illinois Right to Life noted that there were a few more negative reactions this year.

“We have to continue to fight, especially here in Illinois,” he told The Catholic Post. “We have to educate people.”

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