Celebrate Life March an ‘invitation for people to accept the love of Christ’

Pro-lifers invited to march at capitol Jan. 12

Moira Cullings

One of David Bereit’s favorite stories from his time at 40 Days for Life came out of a pro-life rally outside an abortion clinic in Fresno, Calif.

Only a handful of people showed up.

Despite the small crowd, a TV news station covered the rally, and that night the media mocked the small, seemingly insignificant group that stood on the sidewalk, praying for life.

“But unbeknownst to anyone involved, there was a young woman that night watching the newscast who was pregnant and was scheduled for an abortion at that abortion center in Fresno the next day,” said Bereit.

“Because she saw those people peacefully out there with signs and messages offering free help to those in unexpected pregnancies, she said, ‘I’m not going to have that abortion.’

“She reached out to those people, and she made the decision for life.”

Bereit, co-founder and former CEO of 40 Days for Life, has seen countless blessings come out of the pro-life movement since 40 Days was created in 2004. Along with the deep faith of his family, his pro-life involvement even inspired him to convert to Catholicism earlier this year.

“It changes us, it changes hearts and minds, and sometimes, our presence at these kinds of [pro-life] gatherings can literally save lives,” he said.

Bereit now looks forward to taking on the role of emcee during the Celebrate Life March here in Denver on Jan. 12.

“We are called to be a people of hope,” he said. “I believe the pro-life movement right now is making enormous progress. I am seeing gains on so many fronts.”

Deacon Geoff Bennett, Vice President of Parish and Community Relations at Catholic Charities, explained the march is designed to uplift the Denver community and motivate pro-lifers for the coming year.

“It’s really going to be a positive tone,” he said. “It’s celebrating the gift of life we’ve been given and the inherent dignity we all have.”

 

As those in attendance make their way to the capitol, the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church choir will play music. Attendees will also enjoy music by a mariachi band, as well as a variety of cultural dancers, and hear from Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, Superintendent of Catholic Schools Elias Moo, among other speakers. Finally, the group will march around the capitol.

Deacon Bennett believes the crowd will be inspired to continue their efforts to promote life.

“I hope it’s a realization that life is a gift,” he said. “Life is not a commodity. It does come from our creator.

“We hope women realize that’s a life within them.” he added. “It’s a gift given to them. Let’s cherish this gift. This gift will change our lives in a positive manner if only we’re open to what we’ve been given.”

Bereit is optimistic that Colorado, the first state to decriminalize abortion following Roe V. Wade, will be stirred by the pro-life community that turns out for the march.

“This is not an event of condemnation or judgment, this is an invitation for people to accept the love of Christ and to realize part of that love is how we welcome children into the world,” he said.

Bereit wants participants to know their prayers and actions can do unbelievable things with God’s grace.

“God can use you to save the life of a child in the womb that’s at risk of abortion,” he said. “God can use you to help a mother who’s in an unexpected pregnancy who’s scared and doesn’t know where else to turn.

“God can use you to help somebody who’s been wounded to find healing. God can use you to change the world.

“Come out to the Celebrate Life March and get ready to join in what God is doing to save even more lives than ever before, and continue to build on the great work that he has been doing through the pro-life movement in Colorado.”

COMING UP: Celebrating the Truth in Colorado

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

By Deacon Geoff Bennett

Deacon Geoff Bennett is the Vice President of Parish and Community Relations at Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Denver, including the Respect Life Office.

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and anticipate a new year, we need to defend the gifts of life, marriage and religious liberty. Being active in the public square involves educating ourselves and others to the truth. We must always remember that we have truth on our side and that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. If we are not defending the truth on life, marriage and religious liberty, then we are not following Jesus.

We have nothing to fear, but sometimes we act out of fear and do very little or nothing. Fear can be debilitating and keep us from being the witnesses we are called to be.

I’d like to suggest three ways to get involved, and then explain what’s at stake in Colorado in the coming months. The first is to join the pro-life community at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019, for the annual Celebrate Life Rally and March at the state Capitol in Denver. The second way is to get up-to-speed on the critical issues of defending life, marriage and religious liberty. We’ve created a reading list at respectlifedenver.org/list. The third way is to sign-up for emails and text messages, also at respectlifedenver.org.

Here’s why it matters. We have just recently completed the 2018 election cycle. Colorado will be governed largely by officeholders who believe that the killing of innocent life is acceptable. The new legislative session will start in January. Watch for the bills that come up — and may even get passed — that will attack life, marriage and religious liberty, while redefining gender. Hopefully, this will be a wake-up call. This is not about political parties, because the truth should be bipartisan. We need to ask ourselves how this happened and what are we going to do to make a difference. The Lord is calling us, as he called the faithful to be strong against the hostility of the Roman Empire. Just as the early Christians answered the anger of their times by leading with the love and truth of Christ, we are called to do the same thing today. Followers of Christ shared his love and mercy to a world living in darkness. If we try to shout louder than those who disagree with us, we will lose.

It will be difficult, at times, but if we lead with the light of Christ, he will do the rest when it comes to changing hearts and minds. It is time to ramp up our pro-life and pro-family efforts in the public square. Over the last few months, we have seen some encouraging signs in the culture. The most important is the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court. We now have a majority of justices that understand and defend the gift of life. It wasn’t easy and make no mistake: The efforts to vilify Justice Kavanaugh were supported by the abortion lobby. The forces of evil will stop at nothing to destroy life and family.

We have truth on our side, so we have nothing to fear, but we can’t rest on that alone. We need to be visible in the public square and share the truth. Yes, we can and must fight evil. As Catholics, we do that by loving everyone in the truth, compassion and mercy of Jesus Christ.  Let’s continue to tell — and celebrate — the truth that matters.