October 9, 2020

Couple sees award as nod from God to ‘defend me in precious unborn lives’

By Natalie Hoefer

It is difficult for Maria Guadalupe (“Lupita”) Aguayo to recall ever not being involved in the pro-life movement.

“God gave me the gift of being born into a pro-life family,” she said of her childhood in Guadalajara, Mexico. Her parents led pro-life marches there, and she learned “to defend the unborn regardless of the consequences.”

After two months of marriage and six weeks pregnant, then-22-year-old Aguayo was abandoned by her husband. She raised her daughter alone for seven years before receiving an annulment and marrying Mario Soberanes Armenta from Sonora, Mexico.

It was through his wife that Armenta “started being aware about the sanctity of unborn life,” he said.

That belief and their Catholic faith were foundations for the couple in raising their firstborn child, Maria de los Angeles, whom they called Angelita. She was born with Trisomy 13 or Patau Syndrome, a genetic condition which causes severe mental and physical issues.

“Although advised to abort their daughter, … they chose to give [her] life and joyfully cherished her,” said Brie Anne Varick, director of the archdiocesan Office of Human Life and Dignity. She was describing the couple prior to recognizing them as winners of the office’s Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Respect Life Award. Varick made the comments during the Respect Life Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Oct. 4.

Just six weeks prior, Angelita died on Aug. 22 at the age of 13. She joined three other children the couple lost through miscarriages.

“She taught me that every life has worth,” said Aguayo of Angelita. “That each person is created with tenderness in secret. There are no mistakes. It is God’s perfect plan, and that through special beings, with a different design, our Lord loves us and invites us to serve him in the most vulnerable.”

The couple, members of St. Patrick Parish in Indianapolis, have four living children.

And like Aguayo’s parents, she and Soberanes are teaching them by example to respect and protect life.

In 2015 during a retreat, Aguayo sensed a call “not only to save babies, but to save souls from abortion.”

With Armenta’s support, her mission began as a parish ministry praying outside of the Indianapolis Women’s Center abortion facility on the city’s east side.

“Seeing the need presented by the moms, we decided to help with diapers and clothes to the moms who needed it,” said Aguayo. “In 2017, we went from being a parish group to forming Provida Indianapolis, a non-profit organization.”

The organization gathers people to pray outside of the Indianapolis Planned Parenthood abortion facility for the fall and spring 40 Days for Life campaigns, and organizes living Stations of the Cross there during Holy Week. The current fall 40 Days for Life campaign runs through Nov. 1.

Through Provida Indianapolis and its volunteers, the couple “serves their migrant community assuring that ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] detainees have access to pastoral care, [and] provide clothing and supplies for migrant children in foster care whose parents have disappeared,” said Varick.

The ministry “serves mothers and families in [the couple’s] community … and has saved many from the heartbreak of an abortion,” she added.

Mothers like the teen whom Aguayo helped choose life, accompanying her on her journey through the ultrasound to the birth of her baby boy.

The couple stood by her side as godparents to the baby during his baptism just one week after Angelita died.

“God is clear: ‘You shall not kill,’ ” Armenta said. “Moreover, because the unborn cannot defend him- or herself, they need advocates, as Jesus advocated for people who were going to be killed and saved them, like the woman caught committing adultery.”

Even a fire that destroyed the organization’s building on July 29 has not caused the couple to waver. Through God’s providence, said Aguayo, they broke ground for a new structure on Aug. 12.

Armenta said receiving the Respect Life Award is “like God is saying to us, ‘Go ahead, this is the mission I have given you. Go on and defend me in precious unborn lives.’ ”

Aguayo agreed.

“Now, even living in my grief six weeks after our daughter María de los Angeles died, there is a clear certainty in [the award] I am receiving today,” she said. “More than an award, it is an alliance.

“It seals a commitment that I accept voluntarily and by the grace of God our Lord, in which my life will continue to speak for the one who has no voice, and to pray so that temptations do not take away more souls.”

(For more information on Provida Indianapolis, go to cutt.ly/ProvidaIndianapolis.)

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