Sarah Flores regrets her abortion. She’s sorry that she and her boyfriend chose to kill their child.
“I had an abortion when I was 17,” she told the Denver Catholic Register at a prayer vigil in front of Denver’s Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Jan. 18. The vigil followed a solemn procession led by Archbishop Samuel Aquila from the nearby Lighthouse Women’s Center run by Catholic Charities.
A message painted on Flores’ T-shirt openly expressed her remorse: “My son Joshua killed by abortion July 11, 1997.” Her husband Derek and teenage daughter and son, Sierra and Ethan; shared the sentiment through T-shirts customized with their relationship to Joshua: stepson, sister, brother.
“And for a long time, I didn’t really think it affected me,” Flores said. “I’d say that my biggest guilt was having no guilt.”
About a year ago, after volunteering at a Longmont pregnancy center and studying Scripture, the Catholic convert and parishioner of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Northglenn, had a profound experience of meeting her baby boy through prayer.
“It really changed my relationship with God,” she said, and through continued prayer and public witness, she hopes to relay that message of God’s love and mercy to more women.
Joshua is one of the 56.9 million babies lost to abortion since it was legalized by the U.S. Supreme Court 41 years ago on Jan. 22. Recognizing the anniversary, hundreds of Catholics gathered for the Lighthouse event, as well as a Mass and march Jan. 18 to pray for the children lost, for families in need of healing, workers in the industry, and all who sin against the dignity of human life.
Events began with a mid-day Mass at Denver’s Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception celebrated by Archbishop Aquila. He began his homily asking why Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners, as described in the day’s Gospel (Mk 2:13-17).
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do,” Jesus responded to the Pharisees in the reading. “I did not come to call the righteous, but the sinners.”
He ate with tax collectors and sinners because he wanted them to “come to know and to receive his love,” the archbishop explained to the standing-room-only congregation.
“When we receive the Eucharist, we can pray for every grace that we need,” he continued.”It’s in that encounter with the Lord and his mercy that we recognize our sin more clearly… in that encounter, we too must intercede for others.”
Not through prayers of condemnation, he said, but prayers of intercession asking the Lord to convert their hearts and minds.
“It is essential that we pray for people by name,” the archbishop said, specifically mentioning that the country has its most pro-abortion president ever. “And (pray) for their conversion.”
Jon Simmons, a parishioner of St. Frances Cabrini Parish in Littleton, attended the Mass with his wife Cindy.
“I think so often we pray for people but we don’t pray for them by name,” he said after the Mass. “It made me think, I need to find out who some of these people are.”
Following Mass many walked to the nearby State Capital for the annual March for Life, organized by Colorado Right To Life, before making their way to Lighthouse at 3 p.m.
There, with Archbishop Aquila presiding, a group of about 300 memorialized Denver’s children lost to abortion through prayer and hymns, and area pilgrims traveling to the Jan. 22 March for Life in Washington, D.C., were blessed. Archbishop Aquila is attending the national march as well.
“(God) gives us the courage to keep coming out year after year,” he said. “We can never, ever tire of giving witness to life.”
Francisco Rodriguez, 16, was among 31 students from Denver’s Bishop Machebeuf High School attending the march.
“I want to get to experience the love of everyone throughout the country,” he said of the event that draws hundreds of thousands to the nation’s Capitol. “To really get closer so I can do my part for the cause.”
The event concluded with the archbishop leading the block-long procession in silence to Planned Parenthood, the second largest facility in the country. Participants quietly placed flowers at the fence in front of the facility while some sang, some knelt in prayer and some cried.
9 Days For Life
Archbishop Aquila asks Catholics to join U.S. bishops in 9 Days For Life
What: 9 days of intercessions, reflections and acts of penance, reparation and charity
When: Jan. 18 to Jan. 26
Available: online, app, texts or emails
Sign up: www.9daysforlife.com or text “9Days” to 99000