On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous Roe v. Wade 7-2 decision, which legalized abortion nationwide, Diocesan faithful gathered at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Palmyra, where Bishop Ronald Gainer celebrated the annual Respect Life Mass.
Bishop Gainer noted that since the Dobbs v. Jackson 5-4 decision last June that overturned Roe’s verdict, ten U.S. states have had less than ten abortions each in 2022. Texas has seen a 97 percent drop in cases, the bishop said, also sharing that some 50,000 children saw their first Christmas this year because of the Dobbs ruling.
“Every Rosary, every Mass, every prayer, every march, every respect life event brings us closer to having abortion being unthinkable in America and where life from conception to natural death is accepted,” Bishop Gainer said in his homily. “But this anniversary we mark must still be marked with mourning…as there are states in this country were abortions are still occurring. This year, the 22nd of January offers us new hope and thanksgiving for the progress made, but much work needs to be done at the states’ level so that all human life will enjoy protection…. We will continue to work.”
Bishop Gainer acknowledged the firm commitment the Catholic faithful have in the Palmyra region as they celebrate a public witness every year around the anniversary with a Rosary march from the church on Pine Street to the town square that is a busy Lebanon County thoroughfare. “That is an amazing testament of faith, of pro-life witness by you, and I congratulate and honor that public act you do every year,” he said.
Bishop Gainer also gave a public expression of gratitude to the score of his brother Knights of Columbus in attendance for their tireless work not only in the Diocese, but also in the country. “The Lord does not do salvation on his own; he uses his apostles; he uses us. At this Mass where we gather to respect life, let us remember that God truly amazes us by how much he respects each one of us to be his co-workers, collaborators to do His will here on earth.”
The Mass, attended by some 400 faithful on a gray Saturday evening, included many young people who served the liturgy for Bishop Gainer and Father Anthony Dill, pastor of the parish.
After Mass, 11-year-old candle bearer Noah Johnson reflected on what being pro-life means to him: “Pro-life means God to me,” Noah said, holding the candle still shining brightly upon his face. “You should live and think as best you can how God wants us to. We should treat others with respect and supporting all that is good and pray for good.”
Young Noah participated in the parish’s march to the square the day before the Mass, which he said felt really special to be able to join with those who do this public witness. “I will not ever forget serving tonight, either, for Bishop Gainer,” Noah said. “It was very special.”
Nine-year-old fellow candle bearer Colin Pallozzi agreed that although he was “very nervous” serving Holy Mass for Bishop Gainer, he also said that it was “special and fun” to witness the Mass in the sanctuary. “I’m not going to forget this, either,” he said.
On the front of the worship aid for the Mass were the words Respect Life: Every Life: Cherished, Chosen, Sent. Since January 1973, the cherished faithful in the Palmyra area and the Diocese have been witnessing to those truths for every one of the 50 mournful anniversaries.
(Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)
By Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness