Diocese sponsors North Texas pro-lifers to join thousands others in Texas Rally for Life in Austin

Story and Photos by

Jerry Circelli

Correspondent

February 4, 2014

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Members of the Diocese of Fort Worth delegation join thousands of other pro-life Texans marching toward the state Capitol Jan. 25 for the Texas Rally for Life.

More than 100 Catholics from the Diocese of Fort Worth joined their voices with several thousand pro-life supporters at the Texas Rally for Life on the steps of the State Capitol in Austin Jan. 25 in loud approval of comments from elected officials and other speakers. They traveled to Austin on buses chartered by the diocese’s Respect Life Office.

That office’s director, Mike Demma, said this was the first Texas Rally for Life bus trip to Austin that the diocese has organized. Past trips were undertaken by parishes and church-related organizations.

This year’s attendance was double the number attending in recent years, according to Demma and other local Catholics who have traveled to Austin by bus for the rally in the past. Demma said people are becoming more aware of the [alarming] numbers of unborn lives destroyed through abortion. According to a 2014 report from the National Right to Life Committee, more than 56 million unborn babies have been killed by abortion in the United States since Roe v. Wade became law in 1973. Every year, 1.1 million more lives are being claimed, according to the organization. Every day, 3,000 beating hearts are stopped by abortion.

“Many people are beginning to understand,” Demma said. “For decades they were told that it was just a blob of tissue.” And now many, many more people are hearing what has always been the consistent message of science: “it’s life.”

Oscar Vasquez of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Keller, who journeyed with his family to Austin on the bus trip, agreed. “Our numbers are multiplying. People see the importance of the issues, and they are starting to come out.”

Vasquez added, “Most people in America are pro-life, but most of us are just complacent and reluctant to lift our voices. But it’s time to join together now and be heard.”

Diocese of Austin Bishop Joe Vásquez led the opening prayer for the ecumenical rally.

“As we gather to remember the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion, we recommit ourselves in our efforts to change the law and provide protection for the most vulnerable in our society — the unborn,” he said. “We pray for all those who have been victimized by abortion. Bring about healing for those who suffer and help them recognize you as a God of mercy and compassion.”

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From left to right: Claire Cox, Meridith Peel, Rachel Cox, Will Cox, and Nick Cox, from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Keller are among the younger pro-life supporters out to end abortion in their generation.

State Representative Jody Laubenberg, author of House Bill 2 that banned abortions at 20 weeks in Texas and set some of the strictest regulations in the nation against abortion facilities, gave a resounding testimony at the rally. She said she and her colleagues “could not have done what we accomplished this session had it not been for the voices who spoke out for those who could not speak for themselves.”

Laubenberg said that the much-publicized efforts by some legislators in Austin who wanted to continue late-term abortions ended up resulting in victory for pro-life supporters.

“What Satan has intended for evil, God has turned into good,” Laubenberg said. “It has awakened a sleeping giant in this state.”

Another elected official who addressed the rally, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, is gaining increased visibility as the Lone Star State’s gubernatorial race ramps up.

“The voice of the Catholic Church is so profound at ensuring that we keep the right to life a sacred right here in Texas,” Abbott said.

The attorney general also told pro-life supporters, “Because of your unwavering passion and commitment to life, the Fetal Pain Bill banning abortion after 5 months of pregnancy is now law in the great state of Texas.”

The attorney general added, “Texas may be where Roe v. Wade started, but now Texas is the state that is leading the nation in transforming the laws to protect innocent life.”

With no reservations about discussing faith in his speech, Abbott ended his address with a reference to the Old Testament.

“Remember the words in the Book of Isaiah,” Abbott said. “Isaiah said he heard a voice from the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And Isaiah responded, ‘Here am I. Send me.’

“Just like in the Book of Isaiah, God may ask of you, ‘Whom shall I send to defend innocent life?’ You can respond just like Isaiah by saying, ‘Here am I. Send me into the fight to defend innocent life.’”

Delia Yzaguirre of St. Patrick Cathedral, an active pro-life supporter who has served through Project Gabriel, 40 Days for Life, and other counseling programs, said she welcomed the fellowship among people who shared her outlook about the beginning of life.

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Austin Bishop Joe Vásquez opens the Texas Rally for Life on the steps of the Capitol with a prayer for the victims of abortion.

‘The secular media is so biased and uninterested in the pro-life movement, they disregard it,” Yzaguirre said. “Really, you tend to think that you’re all alone out there.”

When she is in the company of like-minded pro-life supporters, especially at Texas Rally for Life events, she said she feels reinvigorated. On the way to Austin, Yzaguirre said, “I’m proud we have two buses going, and I expect to see a big crowd down there.”

Lost in a sea of pro-life supporters once she began her march to the Capitol, her expectations were met. On the return trip, Yzaguirre scanned some photos she had taken with her smart phone during the walk to the Capitol. They showed a halo around the sun, a phenomenon about which many had commented during the rally.

“It’s another sign to remind you, ‘You are not alone out there,’” Yzaguirre said.

Fourth-degree Knight of Columbus Bob Hennessey of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton traveled with the diocesan group to the pro-life event. He joined up with about 20 other Knights in full regalia who led the rally’s procession on its 16-block journey to the Capitol.

“The Fourth-degree Knights are the visible arm of the Knights of Columbus,” Hennessey said. “I always think of us as defenders of the faith. And since respect life is such an important issue today, I’m proud to be here.”

St. Elizabeth Ann Seeton parishioner Cameron Walton was also proud to participate in the event, and although he is only 17 years old, it was not his first rally. He attended the March for Life in Washington, D.C., two years ago and liked the feeling of being surrounded by thousands of other pro-life supporters.

“You don’t feel alone. You feel you can carry on,” Walton said. “I think it’s extremely important just to show yourself and the world that you have the strength to step out of your shell and to show everyone what you believe.”

Seventeen-year-old Ben Donahue of Midlothian, said he felt the same way. A friend of Walton, Donahue said he wanted to give testimony to the pro-life movement as well. “I stand for life, and I came to show my support,” Donahue said.

The span of generations in the crowd of pro-life supporters was encouraging to the event’s emcee, Terry Williams of Care Net, a crisis pregnancy organization.

Williams looked out from the Capitol steps at thousands of blue signs being held up by pro-life supporters that read, “My Generation Will End Abortion.”

She engaged younger and older generations in the crowd in a cheering contest to see who was the most vocal in supporting the pro-life slogan on the signs.With the cheering from the groups echoing off the walls of the Texas State Capitol, Williams concluded, “My money is on all of you, standing together, to end abortion.”

For more information about the Diocese of Fort Worth Respect Life Office, contact director Mike Demma by , or visit the office’s website.

TX-Rally-'14-Button.jpgMore than 100 Catholics from the Diocese of Fort Worth joined their voices with several thousand pro-life supporters at the Texas Rally for Life on the steps of the State Capitol in Austin Jan. 25 in loud approval of comments from elected officials and other speakers. They traveled to Austin on buses chartered by the diocese’s Respect Life Office. That office’s director, Mike Demma, said this was the first Texas Rally for Life bus trip to Austin that the diocese has organized. Past trips were undertaken by parishes and church-related organizations.

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