Annual Pro-Life Mass
On Friday, March 25th, I celebrated the Annual Pro-Life Mass at St. Julie’s in Dartmouth. The Annunciation of the Lord is known as a Solemnity—the highest level of a liturgical feast. This day is important for many reasons, including that we would have no other holy day, such as Easter or Christmas, without this feast. The Annunciation makes the day Jesus became flesh in the womb of Mary. It sets the whole foundation for what we know, believe, and celebrate in our Catholic faith.
It is the moment of Mary’s Fiat, her “yes” to God. “May it be done to me according to Your Word,” we read in the Gospel, meaning she hears and accepts her role as a servant of the Lord here to do His will—ready to do whatever he asks of her. How do we know God’s will? It is critical for us to discern how to know God’s will for us, which we do through prayer, reflection, and meditation. Mary had a profound connection with God and is an excellent example to us. She knew God’s Will, ready to accomplish it with the help of His grace.
Imagine for a moment that Mary had not accepted the angel Gabriel’s message to be the Mother of Jesus. What if she thought it would be too difficult or, worse yet, had decided because it was not a planned pregnancy to terminate it. Imagine the world without Jesus being incarnate, and all the things he did that followed this Annunciation moment. Consider a world without Jesus’ teachings, His Passion, Death, and Resurrection, which opened our lives to Redemption and the hope of heaven. The coming of the Holy Spirit changes things, and it changes us. Jesus humbled himself to become one of us, in our humanity, so we could share in His Divine Life—to share in His eternal life.
As we gathered on that Solemnity for a Pro-Life Mass, I also want to reflect on that important theme. Many people only see the rights of a woman and her body; they fail to see there’s another person who has the same rights and dignity. Believe me, no one is saying the woman has no right to her body; however, people fail to see there’s another person who also has the same rights and the same dignity. It is not the mother who gives these rights and dignity to a person. It is not a government; it is God alone. If given by God, who are we to take it away, along with all the beauty this life has to offer?
Suppose we begin to reflect on this truth and help others see it as well? I believe, if we can do this, things will change, and all will respect life from conception to natural death. In the last 50 years, we’ve never had an opportunity that we have now pending in the Supreme Court. In June, the United States Supreme Court is expected to issue its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—a landmark decision that could impact the whole country. The United States Congress of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has issued a statement that provides more information, and you can read that here. Please hold those hearing this case and this incredibly critical issue in your prayers.
Winners Announced at Pro-Life Mass
The annual Pro-Life Mass also included the presentation of the John Cardinal O’Connor Awards and announcing the Pro-Life Student Essay Contest winners, both sponsored through the Diocesan Family and Respect Life Office.
The John Cardinal O’Connor Annual Pro-Life Award is presented to recipients who express, by their actions, a deep understanding of the sacredness and dignity of all human life from conception through natural death. Paulette Martinville received this award in the adult category; and Aleena Borra, Grade 7 from Holy Name/ Holy family was awarded in the youth category.
The Pro-Life student essay winners read their moving, and beautifully written essays following the Mass, and these can be seen on the Mass recording—available here.
This year’s winners are:
Junior High School Level First Place Winner:
Aleena Borra, Grade 7, Holy Family Holy Name School
Junior High School Level Second Place Winner:
Anna Higgins, Grade 8, Holy Family Holy Name School
High School Level First Place Winner:
Jade Biliouris, Grade 10, St. John Paul II High School
High School Level Second Place Winner:
Eamon Martin, Grade 9, Bishop Stang High School
Rediscover Catholic Schools Campaign
Although our Diocese has faced many difficult decisions with our Catholic Schools over the past few years, I am pleased with the continued efforts to serve children and families desiring a Catholic Education. We know the value of Catholic schools and that what Catholic schools do for our young people, no one else can do. We can offer not only a quality academic education, but we offer values and faith.
Over the past two years, the pandemic has highlighted challenges facing educational systems which resulted in many families “rediscovering Catholic schools.” The Rediscover Catholic Schools campaign, recently launched by our diocesan Catholic Schools Alliance, embodies the continued invitation for more new families to join the Catholic school community. Through video testimonials by parents, teachers, students, alumni, and coaches, the essence of what makes a Catholic school unique and different is articulated in their own words.
I invite you to join the many new families who have “rediscovered Catholic schools” by calling your nearest Catholic school and setting up a tour. Elementary school scholarships (K – grade 8) are available through the Foundation to Advance Catholic Education (FACE) and applications are currently being accepted. Awards are up to $2000 per year based upon financial need and all financial concerns can be addressed directly with the schools’ principals. Please go to www.RediscoverCatholicSchools.org for more information.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha