October 9, 2015

Respect Life Sunday: Gospel story teaches ‘no one should be thrown away in God’s great miracle of life’

Lucy Spaetti, seated in the grass, talks with a friend while her parents Dawn and Dr. Adam Spaetti stand behind her. The family participated in the Life Chain event in front of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Bloomington on Oct. 4. (Submitted photo by Marian Leahy)

Lucy Spaetti, seated in the grass, talks with a friend while her parents Dawn and Dr. Adam Spaetti stand behind her. The family participated in the Life Chain event in front of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Bloomington on Oct. 4. (Submitted photo by Marian Leahy)

By Natalie Hoefer

As the sun shone outside SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Oct. 4—Respect Life Sunday—Rebecca Niemerg reflected on her trip to Philadelphia the week prior for the World Meeting of Families.

She saw a clear connection between the two events.

“The theme for Respect Life Month, ‘Every Life is Worth Living,’ and the theme for the World Meeting of Families, ‘Love is Our Mission,’ go hand-in-hand,” said Niemerg, director of the archdiocesan Office of Pro-Life and Family Life.

“Every life is worth living because we are made in God’s image and likeness and are thus made to give and receive love. The witness of the families present at the Respect Life Mass reminded me of the joy of the families present at the World Meeting of Families.”

Throughout southern and central Indiana, many priests spoke about the sanctity of life during homilies. And ecumenical Life Chain prayer events raised awareness of the sanctity of—and threats to—life in the womb. (See photos from the Life Chain here)

In his homily during the Respect Life Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis, Msgr. William Stumpf, vicar general, recalled one family in particular who had a difficult choice to make.

“Their names were Emilia and Karol,” he began. “In 1919, Emilia was a young wife and struggling with her health. After learning that she was pregnant, Emilia was encouraged by her doctors to have an abortion. They were convinced that she and the child would have a very difficult pregnancy.

“But Emilia and her husband made a profound choice. They made a choice to keep the baby. And so it was that in 1920, this Polish couple welcomed their son Karol Wojtyla into the world. We all know him today as St. John Paul II.”

Msgr. Stumpf lamented that, unlike the life of Karol Wojtyla, “hundreds of thousands of lives are snuffed out every single year. …

“I recently read an article about a practice called selective reduction, where women pregnant with triplets or twins can abort one or two of the babies to better manage the size of their family.

“And a homily I recently read by Deacon Greg Kandra points out that [the decrease in children with Down syndrome] is due to the fact that about 90 percent of them are being aborted.”

He also noted the fact that four states have legalized physician-assisted suicide, and that many states are looking to Oregon’s “Death with Dignity” law as model legislature.

Msgr. Stumpf explained that the culture of death will end “when we work to change not only laws, but when we work steadfastly to change hearts.

“We must help our world to accept that, at times, life is inconvenient, difficult and unplanned. But the truth is, no one is ever unplanned or unwanted, because God is always doing the planning, and he wants everyone.

“Respecting life needs to be the way we live,” he encouraged. “Not just in the womb but in all places, times and circumstances: in families, in places we work, and in our communities.

“[Respecting all life] every day and every moment, I believe will change not only hearts, but one day the world.”

One person who is actively seeking to change hearts and the world was in attendance at the Respect Life Sunday Mass. At the end of the liturgy, she walked up to the altar to receive the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Respect Life Award.

Maria Hernandez of St. Ann Parish in Indianapolis received the award in honor of the many ways she helps women choose life—just as she herself did eight years ago at the age of 26 when finding herself away from her family in Mexico and carrying the child of a man she knew she would never marry.

Hernandez now shares her pro-life story on social media via a Spanish-language blog, videos in English and Spanish, and her Facebook page. She also serves as a Spanish interpreter for Gabriel Project— which serves women in crisis pregnancies—as well as volunteering as a sidewalk counselor at abortion facilities. She speaks to teens and families in the Hispanic community to spread the pro-life message, and hopes to soon have a Spanish-language pro-life radio show.

“I have this very deep love for the unborn,” said Hernandez, who is married to Daniel Cabrerra and has four children with one on the way. “I believe that what has happened since the legalization of abortion is the biggest injustice of our time. We cannot remain silent or indifferent.”

Another lover of life who received recognition during the liturgy was Grace Lundy, a junior at Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis who was awarded the archdiocesan Our Lady of Guadalupe Pro-Life Youth Award. She is the daughter of Ann and John Lundy. They are all members of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis.

Since her freshman year at Bishop Chatard, Grace has been active with the school’s pro-life group. She joined her mother last year in signing up to serve in the role of “angel” for the Gabriel Project, supporting women as they choose life for their unborn children in difficult circumstances.

Her pro-life activities are driven by “the belief that everyone has the right to life. Young babies or elders, they all have that gift of life, and are all created in God’s likeness and image. They’re all beautiful, and that drives me to help.”

In addition to her pro-life service, Grace was selected through an interview process to serve on the Archdiocesan Youth Council, and started a club at her high school called Go MAD—“Go Make a Difference”—which encourages students to serve through volunteer opportunities.

“I love service,” she said. “I love seeing joy in others. Go MAD started off as just a desire to find ways for others to volunteer. But it’s ended up being so much more than that. I’ve been so blessed by people who’ve had life-changing events as result of a Go MAD opportunity to serve others. We sometimes forget how lucky we are in life, so service reminds us of that.”

The joy Grace finds in all life as “beautiful” is reflective of a Gospel story shared by Msgr. Stumpf in his homily.

“We must remind [our children] and the world of the miracle passed on in the miracle of the loaves and fishes [Jn 6:5-14],” he said.

“Remember that every crumb was gathered and absolutely nothing was thrown away in that miracle.

“Thus, no one should be thrown away in God’s great miracle of life.” †

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