A group of young people from St. Vincent Ferrer School join the Birthline Lifeline Walk-a-thon Oct. 7 carrying candles and rosary beads and reciting the rosary. (LINDA REEVES|FC)

Prayer warriors pray for life

DELRAY BEACH | Catholics joined in praise and worship in public locations to kick off Respect Life Month.

Annually observed each October by the U.S. Catholic Church, gatherings in the Diocese of Palm Beach included rosary prayers and peaceful processions. Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito celebrated Mass at Emmanuel Parish in Delray Beach to officially kick off Respect Life Month events Oct. 6
“I am delighted to be here with you,” Bishop Barbarito said, proclaiming this year’s theme, “Every Life: Cherished, Chosen, Sent.” Catholics are called to cherish, stand up for and defend those who are most vulnerable, from the beginning of life to their natural death and in between.

During his homily, Bishop Barbarito emphasized the importance of marriage between a man and woman, a union from which family comes forth. He emphasized that Catholics are called, especially today in the modern culture of death, to build a culture of life.

“Family is where we come to know ourselves. Family is where we come to know love. Family is where we come to know God,” he said. Bishop Barbarito reminded all that life is a gift and a blessing to be thankful. “Life is sacred. Life comes from God.”

After the Mass, Bishop Barbarito joined the faithful participating in the annual Birthline/Lifeline Walkathon on the grounds of Emmanuel. Nearly 325 people, old and young alike, showed up with rosary beads and wearing an array of T-shirts with pro-life messages for the Catholic Charities’ fundraiser. As the sun disappeared, people lit candles, producing a beautiful setting as they processed and prayed for the Blessed Mother’s intercession and the end of abortion and a respect for life.

“The large turnout shows me the commitment that people of the diocese have for the pro-life cause and wanting to help change today’s culture of death to a culture of life,” said Katherine Bowers, Birthline/Lifeline program director. “The large turnout represents a show of support for Birthline/Lifeline and the pro-life movement.”

The annual fundraiser benefits the ministry dedicated to promoting the sanctity of life. The ministry offers an array of services including pregnancy testing and limited ultrasound, parenting classes, referrals, material assistance, and adoption information and counseling. The next big fundraiser for the program is a gala with dinner and dancing in February at the Marriot in West Palm Beach.

Respect Life Sunday also celebrates the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary Oct. 7. The faithful assembled for more prayer gatherings around the Diocese of Palm Beach, from the very northern tip in Sebastian to the southern end in Boca Raton. People stood on busy street corners, city squares and in front of churches with rosary beads in hand, lifting up prayers to God. Many of the diocese’s clergy were out in full force, including Bishop Barbarito, providing witness of faith and respect for life, a beautiful testimony for the diocese.

For information about Birthline/Lifeline, call 561-732-0570 or visit www.catholiccharitiesdpb.org. To learn more about Respect Life Month resources, visit www.usccb.org/respectlife. To learn more about local respect life events, visit diocesepb.org and the events section of the diocese website.