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Build a Culture of Life! A Rally Cry Was Heard In Los Angeles!

By Catherine Contreras
1/22/2015 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In the battle for the dignity of every one life, ProLifers recognize the value and need for those who work in the many ministries serving life.

 A Rally Cry Was Heard in Los Angeles, California, "Build a Culture of Life! A Culture That Loves Life and That Defends Life!" The Mission of OneLifeLA is to unite communities and inspire positive action through an annual event that promotes the beauty and dignity of every one human life from conception to natural death.

Pro-lifers marched in One Life LA on January 17, 2015.

Pro-lifers marched in One Life LA on January 17, 2015.

Highlights

By Catherine Contreras
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
1/22/2015 (2 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Pro Life, One Life LA, Archbishop Gomez, Los Angeles, California, Walk for Life


LOS ANGELES (Catholic Online) - The kind-hearted, ardent voice of Archbishop Gomez was heard by over ten thousand people the OneLifeLA event this past Saturday:  "Build a culture of life; a culture that loves life and that defends life!" 

OneLifeLA  is the first-of-its kind pro-life event in southern California-organized by local Catholic dioceses and pro-life groups-where participants were challenged to take concrete steps to build a culture of Life. No matter how little, how weak, how old or young, every life matters, and every one life is priceless.

Simply put, the Mission of OneLifeLA is to unite communities and inspire positive action through an annual event that promotes the beauty and dignity of every one human life from conception to natural death.

I remember attending meetings to plan this event last year and hearing the Archdiocese team share its mission with us. At first, I admit, I was skeptical about it as we are at a pivotal time in the building of a culture of life in our communities.

There are approximately 220 abortions each day in Southern California. Just outside of Downtown Los Angeles is LA's "abortion ground zero"-with NINE abortion facilities within one mile. 

So I asked Kathleen Buckley Domingo (the LIFE Coordinator at the Office of Life, Justice & Peace at Archdiocese of Los Angeles), "How was OneLifeLA going to address the many needs in the battle for Life and the enormity of the necessity to fight to end legal abortion, while also accomplishing the mission of OneLife?
 
She responded, "Ending the horror of abortion is paramount. But trying to end abortion in isolation is a losing battle. When we talk with a young woman about making the choice for life for her unborn baby, we are starting too late. If she does not first value her own life, how is she able to understand the infinite value of the unborn life she is carrying?

"If a woman knows the pregnancy she carries is a baby, a full-fledged member of the human community, how could she possibly seek to end its life?  For those of us inside the pro-life movement, no amount of economic hardship or domestic unrest can justify that action. But this is the wrong point at which to start the conversation.

"To many women and men in our culture, a discussion of the value of their unborn children's lives is meaningless in principle. They have been brought up with the paradigm that life has no inherent value, but can only have value assigned to it. 

"Women who choose abortion knowingly are doing so because the culture has given them permission to do so.  In fact, they have been told that they alone are the arbiters of whether the life of their unborn child has value or not. What a responsibility!  And this rhetoric, this cultural permission to deem some lives unworthy has huge ramifications in every social context."

I have to agree with Kathleen. As a Counselor, and I'm sure many other Unplanned Pregnancy Counselors will have witnessed this as well, I feel that the unplanned pregnancy is part of a much larger problem, for example, fear of rejection from the father or her family, economic hardship, isolation, emotional or physical abuse, etc. 

Mostly, the mom feels that she has No Choice but to abort her baby.  She feels isolated from a solution to make a choice for Life.   We -all of us!- have  to change the conversation from moms saying, "I have no choice" to our saying, "We will help you make the choice for Life!"

One Life LA

Even the youngest supporters marched during One Life LA on January 17, 2015.


In the battle for the dignity of every one life, ProLifers recognize the value and need for those who work in the many ministries serving life. What would we do without the collaborative efforts of Social Workers, Homeless Ministries, Detention Ministries, agencies serving the poor, the abused, the elderly, youth, the victims of human trafficking and foster care, and so many more?

Yes, ending abortion is paramount, for without Life no other rights or justice matter.   That is why we continue our focus to end legal abortion.

As Archbishop Gomez reminds us, "God's vision is whole, and it can never be partial. God cannot see some lives as worthy and some as less worthy.  For God, every life is sacred and beautiful and filled with possibility-a life He chose to create, a treasure that is precious.  So our vision, too, must be whole and never partial.  Respect for life means that there are no exceptions to our love."  This is the vision for OneLifeLA.

In addition to presentations by public figures, OneLifeLA featured local stories of life-affirming courage in the face of difficult circumstances. These stories illustrate the beauty and dignity of every human life, particularly at lives at their most vulnerable.

Eduardo Verastegui

Actor and ProLife activist Eduardo Verastegui talked about the importance of choosing life at One Life LA


Actor and ProLife activist Eduardo Verastegui talked about the importance of choosing life, saying "Everyday women struggle with a pregnancy decision right here in our own neighborhoods and our own families." 

Eduardo Verastegui

"Everyday women struggle with a pregnancy decision right here in our own neighborhoods and our own families," said Eduardo Verastegui.

 David Bereit of 40 Days for Life

David Bereit, National Director for 40 Days for Life, shared, "We are here at One LifeLA, and what I want you to know is that one life, your one life, can make a profound world-changing difference in the lives of those around you."


David Bereit, National Director for 40 Days for Life, shared, "We are here at One LifeLA, and what I want you to know is that one life, your one life, can make a profound world-changing difference in the lives of those around you."

As most people in ministry and Unplanned Pregnancy Counselors will agree, just being there, being ready to offer love, compassion, and help when it is most needed, is a world-changing difference for those in need.

My arms have hugged crying pregnant moms, uncertain of the future, crying dads whose babies were about to be aborted, whom they couldn't save, crying post-abortive moms and dads, grandparents, friends who are grieving from their abortions. I've also held crying moms in my arms, saying "Thank You for being there."

I've also held precious babies, their little hands wrapped around my finger. All of us are called by God to help our brothers and sisters. How God calls us is unique to others, but as we read in Mass this past Sunday, "Speak, for your servant is listening."  Let us all listen to God and His call to each of us, to help each one life have dignity and respect-from the womb to natural death.

Jessica Adair shared her story of facing an unexpected pregnancy that interfered with her career and life plans. Thanks to the unconditional support from a local pregnancy center, she and her husband chose life for their unborn child, their son.  She said, " my baby's heart, it hit home for me that he was very alive."

Jessica Adair baby boy in the womb

Jessica Adair was faced with an unexpected pregnancy. She and her husband chose life for their son.


Kathleen Buckley Domingo, Life Coordinator for the Los Angeles Archdiocese's Office of Life, Justice and Peace, expressed that, "We really want people to walk away, clearly knowing what that next step is going to be in a culture of life."

After the OneLifeLA presentation, I spoke with two national ProLife leaders-both of whom live in the Los Angeles area.  I asked them what their thoughts were now that L.A. has its own Walk for Life. 

One of them, Astrid Bennett Gutierrez, the President of Hispanics for Life, as well as the coo-host of Catholic View for Women on EWTN, said:

"The OneLife LA event was an impressive witness of the pro-life heart that beats in L.A., a city devastated by the ravages of the culture of death.  L.A. remains one of the top cities for abortion in our nation, and yet the thousands present at OneLife showed a renewed enthusiasm and hope for change in the tide. 

"Many Spanish-language signs were visible among the many Latino families that attended the event from all over Southern California, a wonderful affront to the targeting of their unborn children by the abortion industry.  A sleeping giant is waking up indeed!  The walk culminated at a stage in Grand Park, a location directly in front of City Hall. With prayers, songs of life, and miraculous testimonies of the human spirit's will to live, we declared to our city officials that we are taking back our city, named after Our Lady Queen of Angels-taking it for Christ, Our Lady, and for Life!"

The other ProLife leader, Kristina Garza of Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, said, "The people of California are sending the rest of the nation a resounding message: We are against abortion and are ready for our state and national leaders to take action. We are tired of our people being targeted for extermination. We are tired of being ignored by our political leaders. We are tired of abortion."

One life LA

A little marcher during OneLife LA


Anne Hennessey, the Executive Director of the Right-to-Life League of Southern California, shared with me why it was important to the RTLLSC that they served as a co-sponsor of OneLifeLA: 

"Because this was the first-ever large scale event promoting the dignity of human life in Los Angeles, we saw it as a vehicle to build a culture of life in our little corner of the world here in Southern California.  The number of people who gave up their Saturday to come and march in this event and listen to the speakers and attend the concert was inspiring.  It was such a joyful event with so many people who value the sanctity of life. 

"It was wonderful to experience this with all these people of one heart.  I spoke with David Bereit as the event was concluding and he told me that of the three largest pro-life events in the country, California has two of them-one  in San Francisco and one here Los Angeles. So when people tell you in terms of life issues that California isn't even on the map, don't buy it.  It is!"  

Finally, I'd like to share the full transcript of the speech given by Archbishop Jose Gomez at the event:

"So my friends, we are being called to build a culture of life; a culture that loves life and that defends life. A culture where every human life is welcome and wanted and cared for. Every life, at every stage and every condition, from the moment life is conceived in the womb until the moment life reaches its natural end in death.

Pope Francis tells us very simply and very beautifully that to be human means to care for one another.  And he says that each of us has a duty to protect life courageously and lovingly in all its phases. This duty, my friends, to protect life begins with the life of the child in the womb. There is no one more innocent, no one more defenseless in our society than the unborn child. So we need to protect the unborn.

"That means ending legal abortion. It also means reaching out in love to support the mother who carries the unborn child in her womb. We have to do it. The duty to protect life means that we need to stand with all those who are suffering and exploited and vulnerable in our society, especially those who are elderly and terminally ill. We need to protect them against the false compassion of Euthanasia. Which suggests that the sick would be better off dead than to be loved and cared for. 

"What a tragedy, isn't it? 

"So let us celebrate the beauty and dignity of every human life, from conception to natural death. Let us make OneLifeLA the reality of every day in LA and all of Southern California. Let us go out and tell our neighbors, our friends, the people we work with, that life is beautiful.

"That every life matters to God. That every human life matters to us. And here, in the City of the Angels, let us ask the Queen of the Angels, Mary the mother of Jesus and mother of us all, to help us all stand up for the beauty and dignity of every human life from conception to natural death. May God bless all of you and your families."

We are all called to witness to the Gospel of Life. Let's continue our witness and commitment to build a culture of life!

The article

"A rally cry was heard in Los Angeles"'s author, Catherine Contreras, and the photographer, Jacqueline Johnson, resting at the end of OneLife LA

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