Fort Worth Diocese Respect Life Mass to be celebrated on feast day of the saint for unborn
FORT WORTH — Bishop Michael Olson has moved the annual diocesan Respect Life Mass to Tuesday, April 28, 2020, the feast day of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, an Italian pediatrician, wife, and working mother who chose life for her unborn child over her own life.
After the Mass, St. Gianna’s surviving child, Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla, will speak and a reception will follow.
“I’m delighted to welcome Dr. Gianna Molla to offer her very personal witness to human dignity and the right to life,” said Bishop Olson.
Bishop Olson will celebrate the 2020 Respect Life Mass at 6 p.m. at Good Shepherd Church, 1000 Tinker Rd. in Colleyville.
Previously, the diocesan Respect Life Mass was held in January, near the date of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
According to the bishop, “The change of this date was prompted in part by the desire of many to be present at the National Mass and March for Life, including me.”
Many Catholics from North Texas, especially youth, attend the National Prayer Vigil for Life Mass and National March for Life in Washington, D.C., each year. The national events are scheduled for January 23-24, 2020.
Diocesan Respect Life Coordinator Theresa Schauf said Bishop Olson’s decision to schedule the Mass on St. Gianna’s Feast Day was based on a desire to heighten the significance of the Respect Life Mass.
Schauf said, “There is no better way to call attention to the bishop’s and diocese’s deep commitment to protection of life from the moment of conception to natural death than to celebrate our Respect Life Mass on the feast day of the patron saint of mothers, physicians, and unborn children — the Feast of St. Gianna Beretta Molla.
“Bishop Olson has always made the diocesan Respect Life ministry among his most important priorities,” Schauf said. “It is fitting that on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Diocese of Fort Worth, as we celebrate the ‘Eucharist Makes Us the Church,’ that Bishop Olson has elevated the importance of our Respect Life Mass to show the faithful, as well as our brothers and sisters throughout North Texas, that we value life above all.”
Saint Gianna Beretta Molla
Born in Magenta near Milano, St. Gianna was the tenth of 13 children born to Alberto and Maria Beretta. In her early life Gianna considered becoming a nun, but she heard God’s call to pursue the vocation of marriage and motherhood.
In 1961, pregnant with her fourth child, St. Gianna was diagnosed with a tumor in her uterus. Her physicians urged her to have a hysterectomy, which would have killed her unborn daughter. With great faith and courage, she made the choice to have only the tumor surgically removed.
Molla was quite clear about her wishes, expressing to her family, “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child. I insist on it. Save the baby.”
In April 1962, Gianna Emanuela Molla was born via Caesarean section, but her mother died a week later from post-surgical complications.
St. Gianna was beatified on April 24, 1994, and officially canonized as a saint on May 16, 2004 by Pope John Paul II. Her husband and their children, including Gianna Emanuela, attended her canonization ceremony, making this the first time a husband witnessed his wife’s canonization.
Respect Life throughout the year
Each October is designated Respect Life Month, and the diocese has a number of Respect Life activities during the month, according to Schauf.
The 40 Days for Life prayer vigil began September 25 and ends November 3. During these 40 days, volunteers pray continually at Planned Parenthood at 6464 John Ryan Dr. in Fort Worth for an end to abortion. To participate in the peaceful, prayerful vigil, visit 40daysforlifefortworth.com.
Also in October, Father Maurice Moon celebrated an annual Memorial Mass on October 12 for families who have lost children before Baptism through miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion. Roses were provided for those parents who placed them at the Virgin Mary’s altar in memory of their children. This special Mass is planned each year by Mother and Unborn Baby Care of North Texas.
Another pro-life diocesan event attended by hundreds of the faithful is the annual Bishop’s Rosary Vigil for Life, which has been held on Good Friday for more than 30 years.
Several parishes host Adoration for Life on a weekly or monthly basis.
“As Catholics, we must remain the protectors of the unborn in a society that has come to place little value on unborn children,” Schauf said. “The Diocese of Fort Worth, with Bishop Olson leading us, is at the forefront of working to build a culture of life.”
For more information about the Diocesan Respect Life activities, visit fwdioc.org/respect-life.