April 5, 2013

Live joy-filled lives to proclaim the Gospel of Life, priest says

Pro-life volunteers in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis honored on March 14 at the Sanctity of Life Dinner in Indianapolis pose after the fundraising event for the archdiocesan Office for Pro-Life Ministry. They are Stephanie Hunter, second from left, Beverly Jones, Pauline Kattady, and Patty and Steve Dlugosz. Pictured with them are Father John Hollowell, left, keynote speaker at the dinner, and Patty Arthur, right, administrative assistant in the Office for Pro-Life Ministry. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Pro-life volunteers in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis honored on March 14 at the Sanctity of Life Dinner in Indianapolis pose after the fundraising event for the archdiocesan Office for Pro-Life Ministry. They are Stephanie Hunter, second from left, Beverly Jones, Pauline Kattady, and Patty and Steve Dlugosz. Pictured with them are Father John Hollowell, left, keynote speaker at the dinner, and Patty Arthur, right, administrative assistant in the Office for Pro-Life Ministry. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

Proclaiming the Gospel of Life in a society often dominated by a culture of death requires Catholics to be witnesses of joy in their everyday lives—and in social media.

That was the message shared by Father John Hollowell, pastor of Annunciation Parish in Brazil, as the keynote speaker for the Sanctity of Life Dinner on March 14 in Indianapolis.

More than 500 people packed the Riverwalk Banquet Center in Indianapolis for the event, which raised funds for the archdiocese’s Office for Pro-Life Ministry.

The dinner was also an occasion to honor pro-life volunteers in the archdiocese with Sanctity of Life Awards.

Beverly Jones, a member of St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Indianapolis, and Stephanie Hunter, a member of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Indianapolis, were honored for assisting mothers in crisis pregnancies to receive material support from Birthline, a program of the archdiocesan pro-life office.

Pauline Kattady, a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, was recognized for her ministry to post-abortive women and men.

And Steve and Patty Dlugosz, members of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, were honored for their involvement in various pro-life ministries.

Father Hollowell said that there are many people in society who have basic questions about life to which Catholics can offer meaningful answers.

“They may not come to us directly, but they’re watching you at work and listening to how you talk and seeing how you interact with your family at the restaurant,” he said. “How are we presenting Christianity to a hungry world? Sometimes, and I’m in there, too, we haven’t done such a hot job at that.”

To draw those seekers to the faith and to embrace its teachings about the sanctity of life, Father Hollowell said that joy needs to be at the center of our lives.

“When people see [joy] in you, they’re going to want to know where in the world that comes from,” he said. “They’ll recognize and know in their hearts that they maybe don’t have that. So our task is to be people of joy so that we can continue to help draw people in and allow them to encounter Christ as well.”

Father Hollowell said that living joy-filled lives will lead other people to recognize that Catholicism is not a set of rules filled with one “no” after another, but is instead a profound “yes.”

“Too many people out there think that Catholicism is a bunch of ‘no’s,’ ” he said. “That’s why it’s the last place that many people would look for answers to the questions that haunt them. We have to change that.”

One way to change that perception, Father Hollowell suggested, is for Catholics to be more present on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter.

“The great thing about social media is that it lets you say, ‘Hey, here’s an article. Anybody want it?’ ” he said. “And then people can come and read it on their own in a safe place by themselves whenever they want. …

“It offers a way to still get the truth out there in a way that [allows] people to receive it on their terms and on their time. We have to do a better job of taking advantage of that.”

Father Hollowell then proposed that being a witness to joy in everyday life and in the digital world will help the broader world realize that the Church’s teachings “are not ends in and of themselves. They’re a launchpad to joy, to happiness, to peace.”

At the end of his presentation, Father Hollowell said that Pope Francis, who had been elected the day before the dinner, and Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin were two examples of lives centered on Gospel simplicity and joy.

“Our new pope is, I believe, God showing us the type of life we ought to be modeling in our own lives,” Father Hollowell said. “God is saying, ‘Do you want to be a fisher of men and women? If so, live simply. Do you want to attract people to the truth? Do it humbly. Do it with joy.’ ”

In reflecting on Archbishop Tobin, Father Hollowell recalled the archdiocese’s annual Solemn Observance of Roe v. Wade, which started with a Mass celebrated by the archbishop at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Jan. 25. Following the liturgy, a rosary procession on Meridian Street took place in which hundreds of worshipers participated.

“[Archbishop Tobin] was walking out after the Mass,” Father Hollowell said. “As the song is still going, he takes his chasuble off, grabs a rosary and puts on a Notre Dame stocking cap, gets in the front of the line and leads a march for life, praying the rosary.”

This example and the witness of Pope Francis, Father Hollowell suggested, are images that Catholics in central and southern Indiana should imitate in their daily lives.

“If we are open to the joy of Christ, we’ll soon become simple people. And if we are open to the simplicity and the poverty of Christ, we will soon become joyful,” Father Hollowell said. “May God give us the grace to imitate our shepherds, to walk out the doors of our churches, rosary in hand and lead a joyful march as we fight to free souls from the prison of the enemy and march to take back long-held territories from the culture of death.” †

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