January 28, 2011

‘Every child is a gift, a blessing’: Nearly 1,000 people participate in Mass and March for Life in Indianapolis

Respect Life Rally keynote speaker Rebecca Kiessling of Rochester Hills, Mich., an attorney and the mother of five children, shares her emotional pro-life story on Jan. 24 at Veterans’ Memorial Plaza in downtown Indianapolis. (Photo by Mary Ann Wyand)

Respect Life Rally keynote speaker Rebecca Kiessling of Rochester Hills, Mich., an attorney and the mother of five children, shares her emotional pro-life story on Jan. 24 at Veterans’ Memorial Plaza in downtown Indianapolis. (Photo by Mary Ann Wyand)

By Mary Ann Wyand

Nearly 1,000 Catholics filled SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis for a Mass for Life on Jan. 24, then many of these pro-life supporters braved the cold weather to pray the rosary during a peaceful march downtown for a Respect Life Rally at Veterans’ Memorial Plaza. (Related: Purchase photos from this event)

Rally keynote speaker Rebecca Kiessling of Rochester Hills, Mich., a family law attorney and the mother of five children, spoke candidly about how she was conceived in rape, adopted shortly after birth and sustained by her faith as an adult.

“My value is not based on how I was conceived, who raised me, what other people think of my life or even what I do with my life,” Kiessling explained. “I’m not a product of rape, but a child of God.”

Research has documented that rape victims who chose life for their unborn children described childbirth as a healing experience, Kiessling said. “But the ones who chose abortion said it was far more difficult [to cope with] … than the rape.

“A baby is not the worst thing that could ever happen to a rape victim,” she said. “An abortion is.”

As a young woman, Kiessling said, she was “just devastated” to find out that her birth mother had been raped then considered abortion twice.

“My birth mother went to a back-alley abortionist, and I was almost aborted,” she said. “… Then she got hooked up with a more expensive abortionist, once again through the [advice of the] rape counselor that the police had referred her to. She said there were no pregnancy resources centers back then, but if there had been she would have gone there.”

Yet, even without pro-life support, Kiessling’s mother finally decided to choose life for her unborn child.

Sometimes awful things happen to people, Kiessling said, but then beautiful things result from them.

“Isn’t that what God is famous for?” she asked. “The worst evil that man has in store, God can take and use it for good. … It’s the story of our Savior. … The fact that I’m OK today has everything to do with what Christ has done in my life—and it has been amazing.”

As a college student, she was one of the first people in Michigan to have a judge allow her caseworker to contact her birth mother.

“She sent me photos and a letter,” Kiessling said of her mother. “She wrote, ‘My dearest Rebecca, [I am] hoping by now that the shock of finding out all the details of your birth are forgotten for that was not reason enough for having to give up something as beautiful as you were. Nothing is as precious as a baby. … You were so perfect and pretty.’ ”

Later, she was overjoyed to be able to meet her birth mother and siblings.

Abortion rights supporters talk about how much they care about women, Kiessling said. “Well, I’m a woman and they could care less about me. What good is my right to anything if I don’t have my right to life? … I can’t even tell you what it feels like to know that [an abortionist] wanted to take my life so badly.”

Reflecting on the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decisions that legalized abortion during all nine months of pregnancy, Kiessling said, “The hard lesson that was learned from Roe v. Wade is that when all aren’t protected, none are protected. Please don’t forget that.

“I’m so thankful that my life was spared,” she said. “… My life matters. Your life matters, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. … A generation [of babies] has been aborted, and it matters.

“I just know that it says in Scripture that God has a plan for my life,” Kiessling said. “… God sent me a godly man of character, who honored me throughout our courtship.”

Her birth mother participated in her wedding, she said. “If you ask her today, she will say that I am a blessing to her.”

Kiessling and her husband are the parents of three daughters and two adopted sons who have the same birth mother. They also adopted a baby with special needs who died after 33 days.

“I think of how different our society would be,” she said, “if everybody understood the truth that we read throughout Scripture that every child is a gift, a blessing, a reward.

“How good is God!” Kiessling said. “Three months ago, my birth mother and her husband—22 years from the day we met on her birthday—legally adopted me. God once again proved himself a father to the fatherless in my life. For me, it was truly my fairy tale ending.”

Servants of the Gospel of Life Sister Diane Carollo, the director of the archdiocesan Office for Pro-Life Activity, thanked the pro-life supporters for participating in the Mass, march and rally.

“Like our counterparts in our nation’s capital today, we proclaim that the state has absolutely no right to legislate the destruction of innocent human life,” Sister Diane said. “No human authority possesses the right to make laws that violate or oppose God’s moral law. … Now, more than ever, we must commit ourselves to the re-evangelization of our culture.”

Msgr. Joseph F. Schaedel, vicar general, concelebrated the Mass for Life with five other priests.

“Human life is the highest value,” Msgr. Schaedel said in his homily. “The Church consistently teaches that human life fashioned in God’s own image is sacred.

“God’s law has to be the basis of our law,” he said. “… Christians may never tolerate evil.”

Catholics must continue to pray for an end to abortion, Msgr. Schaedel said. “No court—not even a Supreme Court—trumps the law of the Supreme Lawgiver.” †

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