Jan 13, 2014

UPDATED: U.S. bishops conference calls for Jan. 18-26 pro-life novena



(CNS file photos/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)

By Carolee McGrath

SPRINGFIELD – The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has announced a pro-life novena to be held Jan. 18-26.

The nine-day prayer vigil will coincide with the 41st anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the controversial Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion in the United States.

“I think this nine-day novena that the bishops introduced is a great way to get people to know that, on any level, they can become involved in the pro-life issue,” said Mark Dupont, public affairs officer for the Diocese of Springfield. Dupont also is the chair of the Pioneer Valley Massachusetts Citizens for Life Mother’s Day Dinner, which will be held May 8, at Chez Joseph in Agawam.

“I think the bishops are trying to get Catholics to understand that’s a powerful tool to employ to transform other people, to come to understand that the sanctity of life transcends political boundaries,” Dupont told iobserve. “It’s a really a human issue, a human rights issue that we need to all embrace.”

The Pro-life Activities Office of the USCCB initiated the novena to remind Catholics of the tragedy of abortion. According to National Right to Life, more than 54 million unborn children have been aborted since the 1973 Supreme Court decision. Norma McCorvey, who was the plaintiff in the case, ultimately did not have an abortion. She later converted to Catholicism and is now a pro-life advocate.

The pro-life novena consists of specific prayers to be prayed each day, including those for post-abortive mothers and fathers; for grandparents of unborn children who may have influenced their children to choose abortion; and for doctors and nurses working in the abortion industry.

“I think the bishops realize that to make real progress on this contentious issue and to support life means to transform hearts,” Dupont said. “At the end of the day, true success will be measured in really turning the hearts of people around to understand how important this cause is.”

Father Brian McGrath, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Westfield, said his congregation will take part in the novena. He also brings a group of teens every year from St. Mary High School to the March for Life in Washington, D.C, which will be held this year on Jan. 22.

“It’s a great thing the bishops are doing. We will be asking our parishioners to pray. We bring a group down every year to the March. This group will be the largest we’ve had in a long time,” said Father McGrath. “So we will be praying and marching for life.”

For more information on the novena and the text of the  prayers, log on to: http://www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/january-roe-events/nine-days-of-prayer-penance-and-pilgrimage.cfm