Saving one baby every week—and their families

Larry Smith

You have been part of an amazing life-saving mission—and we have much more work to do.

Lighthouse Women’s Center, located in Denver across the street from a massive Planned Parenthood abortion facility, will soon record the 100th baby born to women served at Lighthouse. Since March 2013, we have averaged one precious baby a week, born to moms who have bravely chosen life—sometimes against incredibly tough odds.

Now it’s our turn to be a light in their lives. On Saturday, Jan. 31, A Beacon of Hope Gala will be held at Wings Over the Rockies in Denver. We’re planning to have more than 1,000 people in attendance and to raise more than $1 million for Lighthouse and Women’s Services.

I hope you can join us that evening and encourage you to visit ccdenver.org/gala to buy tickets. The deadline is Jan. 24. But if you can’t make it that night, there’s another way to participate by donating the cost of a ticket (at that same website link) to support the wide range of services provided by Catholic Charities to moms in need.

At Lighthouse, those services include free pregnancy tests, free ultrasounds, counseling and connections to needed services. Through the Gabriel Project, moms can get free diapers and material needs to care for their newborns and young children. At Father Ed Judy House, we provide shelter for single women with children, many of whom are victims of domestic violence. Our Respect Life Resources office works through schools, parishes and other venues to educate about the dignity of all life from conception to natural death. Project Rachel provides comprehensive counseling to post-abortive women and men.

We all know that families, particularly those struggling to get by, are under tremendous pressures. What can be done? Lighthouse and Women’s Services, through Catholic Charities, is showing what’s possible.

When a woman comes to Lighthouse in a difficult situation—pregnant, possibly alone, anxious and dreading the future—the care we provide is intended to serve her, save her child and rebuild her family. If we turn our back on them, we discard the future families of America and we can’t afford to do that. And Catholic Charities can’t afford to choose between saving the unborn and our social ministries that provide food, shelter and sustenance to the needy. They are one and the same. A life is a life. And life begins at conception.

Visit Catholic Charities at www.ccdenver.org or call 303-742-0828 to learn more, volunteer or make a donation.

COMING UP: Healing hatred and anger after Charlottesville

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

The confrontation in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the nationwide reaction to it are clear signs of the tensions simmering just below the surface of our society. But we know as people of faith that these wounds can be healed if we follow Christ’s example, rather than the path of revenge.

It was with a heavy heart that I learned about the Aug. 12 clashes between white supremacists and counter protesters in Charlottesville that resulted in the injury of around 34 people and the death of Heather Heyer. It was an “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” melee.

These events remind me of Pope Francis’ 2017 World Day of Peace message, in which he pointed out that “Jesus himself lived in violent times. Yet he taught that the true battlefield, where violence and peace meet, is the human heart: for ‘it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come’ (Mk. 7:21).”

What we witnessed in Charlottesville was an outward expression of hundreds of hearts, and as a shepherd of souls, I cannot stand by silently while people allow hatred toward others rule their hearts. Particularly reprehensible were the derogatory words the neo-Nazis and their white supremacist allies shouted toward African Americans, Jews and Latinos. This is not how God sees his children!

Every human being is bestowed from the moment of conception with the dignity of being made in the image and likeness of God, and we are all loved by him, even amid our sin and brokenness. Satan seeks every opportunity to twist these fundamental truths in the hearts of human beings and we can see the devastation it brings throughout history.

It can be tempting to respond to these attacks on our fellow man with violence, just as the members of the Anti-fascist movement (known as “Antifa”) did in Charlottesville. But this is not what Christ taught, since it allows hatred to gain a foothold through a different avenue. It is worth repeating: the human heart is the true battlefield.

Jesus’ response to violence and persecution stands in contrast with the way of hatred and anger. Instead, he taught his disciples to love their enemies (Mt. 5:44) and to turn the other cheek (Mt. 5:39). Christ’s radical answer is only possible because God unconditionally loves every person and is ready to forgive us when we repent. God’s love is the only thing that can cut through the hatred that is bringing people to blows, heal the human heart and form it after his own. As people of faith, we are called to bring the truth of love to these festering wounds so that hearts may be healed by Christ.

Joseph Pearce, the Catholic convert and former white supremacist, is a perfect example of this. In a recent article for the National Catholic Register, he recalls how it was his encounter with the objective truths of the faith that demolished his race-centered identity and seeing his enemies love him when he confronted them with hatred that changed his heart. We must pray for the grace to love as Jesus loves, to love as the Father loves.

“The way out of this deadly spiral,” Pearce says, “is to go beyond the love of neighbor, as necessary as that is, and to begin to love our enemies. This is not simply good for us, freeing us from the bondage of hatred; it is good for our enemies also.”

May all of us follow the great example of Mark Heyer, the father of the woman who was killed after the white supremacist rally. His daughter’s death, Heyer told USA Today, made him think “about what the Lord said on the cross, ‘Forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.’”

Jesus desires that every person have a heart that is whole and free from hatred, anger and pride. He desires to form our hearts, and that only comes about when we are receptive to his unconditional love, for only in receiving his unconditional love will we be able to give it to others. I pray that all the faithful will be instruments of healing for our country by bringing Christ’s forgiveness to their neighbors and their enemies.