In that marvelous musical comedy of decades ago, Fiddler on the Roof, there is an exuberant song sung by the whole cast at a wedding, I believe, entitled “To Life, to life, l’chaim.” That has certainly been my experience over the last two weeks.
It all began with the formal opening of 40 Days for Life at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Clearwater (please click here for more photos from the kickoff, graciously taken and shared by Rob Gale). I joined almost two hundred woman and men of all ages who, over the following forty days, would be silently praying before an abortion clinic on US 19 North.
Their silent, eloquent witness on behalf of life has made a difference, not only in this diocese, as similar observances are now being held each October (Respect Life Month) before abortion clinics throughout our five counties, but now almost throughout the nation. The participants were prepped on how to handle counter protests, epithets, etc. in a manner in which Our Lord would have born those same affronts and also how to lovingly respond to women whose decision may have changed because of the presence of the witnesses.
It was heart-warming to see the prayerful preparation of these generous, faith-filled people who are willing to bear the heat of the October sun, the rain and wind which have been a part of our climate these last two weeks, and the catcalls and insults of those who do not share theirs and our deep respect for human life.
On Saturday, Catholic Charities’ Foundations for Life held its annual gala (aka “fundraiser”) at Tampa’s A La Carte Pavilion and approximately 430 people were in attendance there (click here to see photos). There were two incredible moments in the evening, and if you were unable to be there I hope you will take the time to watch the two videos included below. It will be time well-spent, I assure you.
The first was when Shawn Carney, a thirty-year old Catholic man born and raised in Tyler, Texas and one of the two founders of 40 Days for Life gave absolutely the best pro-life talk I have ever heard.
Shawn met his future wife while attending Texas A&M and she invited him to stand outside of an abortion clinic one night for their first date. The rest is history and with another friend they gave birth (while his wife was giving birth to four children) to Forty Days for Life. His talk was to the point, free of judgment and recrimination against women who have had abortions, and a call to the larger pro-life community, Catholic and otherwise, to stand tall for our belief in the sacredness of human life. He was the most compelling speaker I have ever heard on this topic. I highly recommend watching the video of his talk below.
Prior to Shawn’s presentation, a young nineteen year old woman and her husband and their triplets gave personal witness to a story that had myself and everyone else in tears. You can watch the video of Ruby’s testimony, posted with her permission, below.
Ruby actually had given birth to quads but one died in the womb and a obstetrician recommended ending the lives of the other three as well, saying that they would most certainly be born with major genetic defects and would likely not live outside the womb even if they made it that far. She and her husband, with no money, but just a profound sense of right and wrong, decided to have the children and soon they were in touch with our Catholic Charities Foundations of Life Pregnancy Center in Tampa. Catholic Charities saw them through the birth and the triplets, while born very early and prematurely, are now very healthy babies as the picture below picture reveals.
Unknown to anyone at the time of the birth but soon discovered after, the mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at age eighteen, has not been through chemo and is presently undergoing radiation therapy. Through it all, our Catholic Charities has been walking with this couple and their three absolutely adorable children and will stay with them come what may. “To Life, To Life, L’Chaim.”
We have a beautiful Church with beautiful teachings about the dignity of every human person from conception to natural death. This is the month we honor and respect all human life and in our dedication and witness, even the gates of hell can not prevail against it.