January 26, 2018

Mass attracts 1,000 to give witness to the dignity, sanctity of life

Kellye and Keith Echternach, with their children, Leona, left, and Clara listen during a Jan. 22 Mass at St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis that began a series of events for the inaugural Indiana March for Life. The Echternachs are members of St. John the Evangelist Parish. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Kellye and Keith Echternach, with their children, Leona, left, and Clara listen during a Jan. 22 Mass at St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis that began a series of events for the inaugural Indiana March for Life. The Echternachs are members of St. John the Evangelist Parish. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

St. John the Evangelist Church in downtown Indianapolis was filled to overflowing on Jan. 22 as some 1,000 Catholics from across Indiana gathered to give witness to the dignity and sanctity of life.

The Mass for Giving Thanks to God for the Gift of Human Life celebrated at St. John kicked off a series of events that made up the inaugural Indiana March for Life, co-sponsored by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, the Diocese of Lafayette and Right to Life of Indianapolis.

It took place on the 45th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion across the country. Jan. 22 is observed by the Church in the U.S. as the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children.

(Related story: Inaugural Indiana March for Life shows pro-life movement ‘is alive and well’)

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson was the principal celebrant of the Mass. Lafayette Bishop Timothy L. Doherty and several priests concelebrated, just blocks away from the Indiana Statehouse where legislators were in session and considering proposed laws to protect the dignity and sanctity of life.

“Within [our] common bond of our humanity,” Archbishop Thompson said in his homily, “we must recognize our responsibility to one another, especially the most vulnerable among us.”

Archbishop Thompson described these vulnerable members of society by quoting Cardinal Blasé J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, who said that this priority of care should be with “the ‘uns’; the unborn, unemployed, undocumented and uneducated.”

“It is not just the ‘uns’ that need our witness but all of society, for a society is only as moral and stable as it treats its weakest members,” Archbishop Thompson said. “Such witness is needed not merely for a day but for the whole of our lives.”

At the end of his homily, Archbishop Thompson spoke to those who would participate in the Indiana March for Life after the Mass that went from St. John to the Indiana Statehouse.

“The call to go forth as missionary disciples—and that’s what we do in this march today—is not about seeking to shame, build walls or to tear down,” Archbishop Thompson said. “Rather, in [Jesus’] name, we must strive to protect and defend, to heal and restore, to reconcile and raise up.

“Together, by the grace of God as especially made available to us in word and sacrament, may we see, judge and act with the mind and heart of Jesus Christ our Savior.”

Candice Schott, a member of St. Roch Parish in Indianapolis, is a mother of 10 children and pregnant. She attended the Mass with some of her children.

“I always want my kids to be on the front line of making change and doing good,” she said after the Mass. “And this is the best way to do it.”

Standing on Georgia Street adjacent to St. John where march participants gathered after the Mass, Bishop Doherty said “it did my heart really good” to see St. John filled for the pro-life liturgy. He also spoke about the importance of the march’s destination—the Statehouse.

“It’s a witness of the responsibility we have in our own state,” Bishop Doherty said. “We look past the state capital to Washington too often. We have a lot of great people working here in government. And it’s good to acknowledge them.”

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