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Catholics pray in front of abortion clinic, attend Mass for gift of life

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There is nothing like a beautiful spring day to motivate people to celebrate life outdoors. This past Saturday was no different, but instead of taking a hike at Great Falls Park, a large group of pro-lifers started their weekend in prayerful witness to the gift of human life outside an abortion clinic in Falls Church.


More than 100 people, many of them students from local colleges and high schools, attended the Mass for the Gift of Life celebrated by Bishop Michael F. Burbidge at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More, followed by a rosary in front of the Falls Church Healthcare Center in Falls Church April 21.


Amy McInerny, diocesan respect life director, helped organize the event that was sponsored by the diocesan Office for Marriage, Family, and Respect Life.


McInerny described the day as a powerful moment of prayer in the diocese.


“Maybe not everyone is able to provide direct service to expectant families in need but everyone can and should pray,” she said.


During his homily, Bishop Burbidge thanked those in attendance for their courageous and consistent witness to the gospel of life.


“My dear friends, you all know that to be effective witnesses, it must go beyond our words. It must go beyond the point of what we do. The very example and witness of our lives,” said Bishop Burbidge.  “We all know, especially you my young friends in Christ, that it is not always easy to be a witness to the gospel of life. There is still a sort of persecution we face — being ridiculed or rejected and falsely and unfairly labeled. Yet we don’t despair. That’s why we are here today. We are believers. We know what God promises is true. That he gives us the consolation of the Holy Spirit and the strength and grace we need.”


After Mass, many of those in attendance drove to the Falls Church Healthcare Center and stood or knelt on the thin strip of grass between the sidewalk and Washington Street. Clinic volunteers in neon vests watched as the regular pro-life sidewalk counselors were joined by the large group, Bishop Burbidge and Father Thomas P. Ferguson, vicar general and moderator of the curia.


The event drew people of all ages, including students from John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Dumfies and Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax attended. About 75 students from Christendom College in Front Royal joined the event, with one member leading everyone in the rosary. According to Shield of Roses president Chloe Herrmann, a senior at Christendom, the group usually has 15 to 20 students at the clinic every Saturday during the school year. But once a semester they host their “Mega Shield” and encourage as many students as possible to attend.


“I think it definitely helps the pro-life cause,” said Herrmann. “Statistics have shown that the more people that stand outside an abortion clinic the less people go in. Having the showing today especially coinciding with the Bishop’s Mass was just a really great witness. It’s just really important to defend those who can’t defend themselves.”


McInerny encouraged all who attended to continue to pray for the end of abortion and healing for those affected by abortion at the office’s monthly holy hour. 

Find out more


An Evening with the Merciful Jesus, prayer and holy hour with music led by Michael Corsini, hosted by Project Rachel, will be May 7 at St. Leo the Great Church 3700 Old Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA 22030, from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Email info@helpafterabortion.org or call 703/841-2550.



© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018