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Bishop Paul Sirba: Jan. 22 events are evidence our march for life continues

On the outside, the Red Bull Crashed Ice course enveloped the Cathedral of St. Paul. On the inside, thousands of prolifers thanked God for the gift of life and pleaded for his mercy and forgiveness at the annual Prayer Service for Life.

The day was Jan. 22. The March for Life continues.

Bishop Paul Sirba
Bishop Paul Sirba
Fiat Voluntas Tua

For me, the day of the march and the days leading up to it are days of reflection, prayer and action for life.

I hosted dinner at my house earlier in the week to support the tremendous work of our Women’s Care Center. After the March, I had the privilege of attending the fourth annual Together for Life Banquet supporting the work of Guiding Star.

Lee Stuart, the executive director of CHUM, invited me to tour the new Steve O’Neill apartments and witness your generosity for the homeless firsthand. The MCCL March for Life at the State Capitol has been a mainstay for me pretty much since 1973, missed only in favor of the March for Life in Washington, D.C., or factors beyond my control.

Why do I and why do you, as Catholics, support all efforts on behalf of life? Because “life is good!”

Bishop Lee Piché of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis led us in prayer and told the story of a fifth-grader who had recently sent him a letter. The theme and title of a book, “If I Had Not Come,” was the topic of the fifth-grader’s letter and Bishop Piché’s meditation.

He asked us to imagine a world in which Jesus Christ had not come. The thought is terrifying: “Where would we be if Christ had not come? And yet, the Gospel tells us that when he did come, when he was about to be born in Bethlehem, ‘there was no room for them in the inn’ ” (Luke 2:7).

How we answer that question should cause us to reflect on how we answer the question with respect to every human life. We are all made in the image and likeness of God. What would our world be like if this one or that one of us had not come?

Our society has changed

We see the immense consequences of the answer to that question and why legalized abortion has inflicted such a great wound on our society, because it has turned us “from a people who make room for others into a people who say to a brother or sister, ‘It is better for us if you do not come,’” to quote Bishop Piché.

In the examination of conscience, I was moved to repent of the times I have ever looked at a brother or sister and, for whatever reason, considered them to be a burden instead of a precious gift. I begged forgiveness for thinking negatively about a brother or sister instead of imagining their tremendous value and worth and potential for good as an image of God.

However we choose to remain active in the witness to and work on behalf of life, we pray that God might use us as a voice for the voiceless unborn. From there we move to defend and uphold our brothers and sisters enslaved by human trafficking, racism, the immigrant, the elderly, the homeless and the poorest of the poor.

Our pro-life family

For me, the March for Life is like a family reunion.

I had the opportunity to thank Leo LaLonde, MCCL’s president and a parishioner of St. Joseph’s in Grand Rapids, for his longtime work on behalf of life.

I greeted Peter Kostecka and Kaleb Quast, two of our seminarians who attend Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona and were attending the March with their fellow seminarians.

I also had a short visit with Sister Amata Marie, a Duluth native and a member of the Handmaids of the Heart of Jesus, on the plaza in front of the State Capitol building. To all of you who marked the day with prayer, reparation and witness, I thank you!

In the afternoon, my family celebrated my mother’s 91st birthday. I delighted as my siblings, their children and grandchildren, and an ever-growing family celebrated her life. If she had not come, none of us would be here.

Bishop Paul D. Sirba is the ninth Bishop of Duluth.