Pro-life rally, Respect Life Mass emphasize changing hearts, not just laws

North Texas Catholic
(Jan 25, 2023) Local

Msgr. Hart elevates Eucharist

Monsignor James Hart celebrated the Annual Respect Life Mass, held Jan. 22 at Nolan Catholic High School. (NTC/Carolina Boelter)


FORT WORTH — After almost 50 years of prayer, peaceful protests, and lobbying politicians, pro-life advocates celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5–4 decision last June to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade precedent that established a constitutional right to abortion. The new ruling eliminated federal protections and gave states the authority to set their own abortion policies.

Overturning Roe v. Wade is a significant victory for the pro-life movement.

“But we’re not done advocating for life,” insisted Terri Schauf, diocesan Respect Life coordinator. “We’re moving forward with hope and healing toward a time when abortion is unthinkable. We need to change hearts and not just the law.”

Speakers at a diocese-sponsored pro-life rally, followed by the Annual Respect Life Mass, voiced a similar message to more than 400 participants who gathered January 22 in the Nolan Catholic High School gym for the multi-generational event. The afternoon included food trucks, praise and worship music, recitation of the Divine Mercy chaplet, and booths by organizations helping moms and babies in need as well as families grieving the loss of a pregnancy.

Thanks to the Heartbeat Act and other legislation, abortion is illegal in Texas but that does not mean it is not accessible. To terminate a pregnancy, Texans can travel to other states or take the RU-486 abortion pill.

“So abortion is still happening and there are still women who will need our help afterwards,” Schauf pointed out. “We also have to be there for the families who choose life for their babies.”

In a homily given during the Respect Life Mass, Monsignor E. James Hart called the defense of unborn lives, “still the most important moral issue of our time.” Memorial roses and a Book of the Innocents, inscribed with the names of babies lost to abortion in the diocese, were placed in front of the altar.

The diocesan Chancellor and Moderator of the Curia said more than 64 million innocent, helpless babies have been brutally and ruthlessly slain since abortion was legalized in 1973. And despite reversing a Supreme Court decision made 50 years ago, “this injustice and atrocity is still sanctioned by many states and their legislatures. The killing of an innocent child — under any circumstance — is always opposed to the natural, divine, and moral law.”

Erin Quinn, with Students for Life, was the keynote speaker during the Respect Life Rally on January 22, 2023 at Nolan Catholic High School. The event drew more than 350 Catholics from across the Diocese of Fort Worth. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

Msgr. Hart urged his listeners to use every morally right, lawful, and nonviolent means possible to end abortion remembering that it is an ethical matter that transcends politics.

“As Catholics, we have the right to not only oppose it personally and in the public square, but we have moral obligation to do so in our faith,” he said.

Building up a culture of life and training the next generation of pro-life leaders is the focus of Students for Life of America — an organization dedicated to abolishing abortion. Students for Life spokesperson Erin Quinn shared startling statistics that underscored the truth and reality of abortion during her keynote address at the rally.

Terminating pregnancies has moved from surgical procedures in brick-and-mortar buildings to college and high school bathrooms where women take pills to perform their own abortions.

“Ninety percent of abortions are chemical and it’s not safe,” she cautioned. “The current president removed restrictions on these pills. It’s great revenue for the drug companies but what they don’t tell you is that these pills are 70 percent more dangerous and are designed for pregnancies 10 weeks and earlier.”

Quinn told the audience the tide is turning in favor of the pro-life cause. Research on the 18- to 34-year-old demographic indicates 75 percent opposes late-term abortion and one in four wants no abortion at all.

“There are hundreds of thousands of young people defending preborn lives and you are not alone,” the speaker encouraged. “You are needed. Make sure people know the pro-life movement is not stopping. We need those pro-life groups now more than ever.”

Support in the form of scholarships, job opportunities, and maternity housing exists for women facing an unplanned pregnancy.

“But people do not know about these resources that are free, life giving, and life protecting,” Quinn continued, noting that one in four women will attend a church service as they contemplate abortion.

“That is why we need to have our resources displayed openly, widely, and talked about all the time,” she added. “We must embrace these young women who are fearful and don’t know where to turn.”

Manning one of several booths showcasing pro-life ministries, Tova Anderson, volunteer coordinator for Gabriel Project, said the need to help women dealing with an unplanned pregnancy is greater in a post-Roe world. A parish-based ministry managed by Catholic Charities Fort Worth, Gabriel Project pairs pregnant women in crisis with a mentor who offers encouragement, friendship, and support. Supplying new parents with material and financial resources is handled by Catholic Charities caseworkers.

Young worshippers pray during the Respect Life Mass on January 22, 2023 at Nolan Catholic High School. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

“Moms are coming in looking for help, and we need more volunteers,” explained Anderson, adding that even school-age children can organize a donation drive or write encouraging cards to an expectant mom. “We’re here sharing information about resources and volunteer opportunities, especially for young people.”

Newly energized students from Cristo Rey High School hope to start a pro-life group on campus after hearing about the ways they can support pregnant moms.

“I didn’t really have an opinion about abortion but coming here today changed my perspective,” said Miley Munoz, 14, a freshman and St. Bartholomew parishioner. “Knowing there are resources to help a pregnant teenager who doesn’t have any money is something I like.”

Aidan Strab said attending the rally reaffirmed his faith.

“I’m surrounded by negative influences at my school. If someone asks me a question about abortion I can answer them,” added the Timbercreek High School senior. “Coming to events like this helps me explain our values to other people and spread the Gospel of Jesus.”

Pro-life, abortion, Gabriel Project, Diocese of Fort Worth, Roe, trending-english