WEST PALM BEACH | What more fitting place could there be for Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito to celebrate the June 24 first anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned the Roe vs. Wade abortion decision than the Chapel of the Holy Innocents at Birthline/Lifeline’s Miracle House on 45th Street in West Palm Beach.
Local pro-life Catholics joined the bishop for Mass in the small worship space, along with Fathers Daniel Donohue, Kevin Nelson and Joe Papes and Deacon Miguel Muñoz. Prayerful music was led by Jesus Lopez. The overriding sentiment of those in attendance, as expressed by Bishop Barbarito, was thankfulness to God for the court’s decision that shifted the abortion issue from the federal government to the states.
“We are grateful here in our state of Florida for the measures which have been taken, and we continue to pray and we continue to do all we can in a positive way to influence our legislators so that the matter of abortion at the state level will come to an end,” he said.
In his homily, the bishop linked the commemoration of the court’s decision to the Catholic Church’s calendar, which celebrates the Nativity of St. John the Baptist on June 24. The church celebrates only three birthdays on the universal calendar, for Jesus (Dec. 25), Mary (Sept. 8) and John, six months before Christmas.
Bishop Barbarito noted that John’s role, as seen in the day’s second reading (Acts 13:22-26), was to point to Christ. “So many thought he was the messiah because he was a man of great preaching, a man of great faith, a man of great principle. And so many mistook him for the messiah or wanted him to be the messiah,” the bishop said.
But John knew he wasn’t the messiah and stepped aside, pointing to Jesus, he said. “John the Baptist proclaimed that he was here so that he might decrease and Christ might increase” (Jn 3:30).
“As we celebrate his birth, as we celebrate this feast, as we celebrate the progress which has been made in regard to the promotion of the sanctity of life, and as we see how much still has to be done in our broken culture and our politically torn world, we ask the Lord that we may always follow the example of Jesus in doing this, and do it with love, compassion, mercy, understanding.”
At the end of the liturgy, Deanna Herbst-Hoosac, Respect Life ministry director for Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Palm Beach, spoke about what is ahead for the local pro-life movement.
“Our efforts will move forward until abortion is unthinkable and banned completely,” she said. “We thank all of our bishops for supporting the changes to our state law and for making a difference in the culture of life. Many more lives will be spared from abortion. We are thankful to all of you who advocate for the unborn, either by attending Mass at our chapel on Saturdays, sidewalk counseling, 40 Days for Life and by prayer.
“Our Birthline/Lifeline and mobile units offer many options for moms in need by offering them resources and by offering material and financial assistance,” Herbst-Hoosac added. “Boynton Beach, West Palm Beach and Fort Pierce buildings are there for them Monday through Friday, and our mobile units are in five locations: Boca, Lake Worth, West Palm, Fort Pierce and Port St. Lucie, for outreach, for ultrasounds and pregnancy testing.”
She thanked those who attended the Mass, which is held every Saturday at the chapel, 3115 45th St., starting with praying of the rosary at 9 a.m. and Eucharistic adoration continuing after the liturgy until noon.
To learn more about Birthline/Lifeline’s services, visit www.birthlinelifeline.org. Contact the Respect Life ministry of Catholic Charities by emailing Herbst-Hoosac at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 561-360-3330. For information about Catholic Charities, visit www.ccdpb.org and follow the agency on social media.