February 21, 2020

Reflection / Mike Krokos

Years later, Gabriel is still a strong testimony to life

Mike KrokosHis name was Gabriel, and little did I know that his brief life would have such a profound influence on me and be one of the things that came to mind as I began offering prayers for the upcoming 40 Days for Life spring campaign which runs from Feb. 26-April 5.

As we have previously reported in The Criterion, 40 Days for Life is an international campaign held twice a year—spring and fall—that seeks to end abortion through peaceful prayer vigils at abortion centers, and to raise community awareness of the consequences of abortion.

During the campaign, individuals silently pray during one-hour time slots in front of abortion centers around the world, including outside the Planned Parenthood facility in Indianapolis, 8590 Georgetown Road, and the one in Bloomington at 421 S. College Ave. There are also 40 Days for Life campaigns in Cincinnati, Louisville and Evansville, and those interested in praying at those or other sites are encouraged to visit www.40daysforlife.com.

Gabriel’s story goes back 20-plus years, but it’s still worth sharing.

A column, “Gabriel was strong testimony to life,” was written by the late Archbishop Harry J. Flynn of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis. It told the story of a family dealing with the brief life of their son, Gabriel, who was diagnosed in his mother’s womb with a fatal heart condition, and the parents’ decision to carry the pregnancy to full term.

Knowing the child had little time to live after he was born in August of 1999, the baby’s uncle rushed from Children’s Hospital in St. Paul to the archbishop’s residence to see if a priest could come to the hospital to baptize the newborn infant.

Baby Gabriel passed on to eternal life before Archbishop Flynn arrived at the hospital shortly thereafter, but the child’s father had baptized him just moments before.

The family’s story, albeit an extremely sad one, was a testimony to all life’s sacredness, the archbishop wrote.

“The parents knew that the child would not live long after birth. They could have terminated the pregnancy. They did not. They believed in life and believed in eternal life.”

I still am moved as I reflect on the family’s decision to choose life for their newborn—despite the extreme sadness and heartbreak that would soon envelop their world.

But as I reflect on Archbishop Flynn’s poignant column, it reaffirms for me our faith tradition’s unwavering commitment to all life—from conception to natural death.

We see it at the Indiana March for Life in Indianapolis, at the national March for Life in Washington, and in many other venues.

We are blessed because we have a shepherd, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson, and clergy and religious who have an unabashed commitment to life.

While many voices in the secular world voice their support for abortion and other life-ending measures, the 40 Days for Life campaign affords us an opportunity to plant seeds of faith and, God willing, shine a light in times of darkness.

Like Gabriel’s parents, may we use this opportunity to be witnesses to the truth of the Gospel.

(Mike Krokos is editor of The Criterion.)

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