May 15, 2003
Marching for a Miracle
By Kristen Fox / SUN contributing writers
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Prayer Procession for Life gathers at Planned Parenthood
Utica –– A Prayer Procession for Life was lead by Bishop James Moynihan on Friday, May 9 beginning at Holy Trinity Church in Utica and proceeding to Planned Parenthood on Genesee Street. The pilgrimage began with a Mass at 10 a.m. Before the start of the Mass, Bishop Moynihan remarked on the recent accusations that have surfaced in Utica against a diocesan priest. “The stories that have appeared in the news regarding abuse and misconduct are disturbing to you and me,” the bishop said. “I pray that we will soon see an end to this situation, but let it not allow our faith to waver.”
Bishop Moynihan continued by welcoming the congregation to the Prayer Procession for Life. He explained that in the fight to end abortion they are praying for a miracle, but he cautioned the congregation not to give up hope. “The movement for life is winning,” said Bishop Moynihan. “Over the years, we have seen a gradual respect for life through mercy and compassion for the unborn. With the help of God we will someday see an end to abortion.” Students from Rome Catholic Jr./Sr. High School and Notre Dame Jr./Sr. High School in Utica and Holy Cross Academy in Durhamville attended the Prayer Procession for Life. Dave Barosi, a campus minister at Rome Catholic Jr./Sr. High School, has been bringing his students to the procession for the past several years. “The prayer procession reinforces the respect for life that is taught in Catholic schools,” Barosi noted.
Maria LaGasse, a freshman at Rome Catholic, added that the march is a wonderful opportunity for her to bear witness to her Christian beliefs. “I’ve attended Catholic schools my whole life and through his education I’ve learned about the importance of life,” Maria explained. “I feel that every person, no matter how big or small, should have equal opportunity to live life to its fullest.” During the Mass, references to St. Francis of Assisi and his love for all forms of life were made and “Prayer of st. Francis” and “Let there be Peace on Earth” were sung. Bishop Moynihan began the homily by sharing the story of Michael Clancy, who had been hired by USA Today to photograph a corrective spinal procedure on a fetus of just 21 weeks’ gestation. In the midst of the operation, Clancy witnessed something that changed and challenged his beliefs, Bishop Moynihan explained.
“As the doctors were about to finish the procedure, Michael Clancy noticed the uterus moving up and the child thrusting an arm out of the opening. The child then pulled its arm back in until only the tiny hand was protruding,” said Bishop Moynihan. “The doctor leaned over and looked at the baby’s hand, and the baby tightly took tight hold of the doctor’s finger.” The famous picture became known as the “fetal hand grasp” and can be seen on billboards and posters everywhere, noted the bishop. “It reinforces the concept that there is a life growing within someone, and that that life needs to be cared for and respected in the proper way,” he added.
Bishop Moynihan continued by likening the plight of Clancy to the mission of Catholics everywhere in protecting unborn children from the over 1.5 million abortions that take place each year in the U.S. “Sometimes, like Michael Clancy, we too need to be stopped in our tracks,” stated Bishop Moynihan. “We must go where God is leading us, even if that takes us under the shadow of danger. You must go –– and get involved –– is the moral imperative at the heart of the pro-life movement.” Following the Mass, approximately 140 people joined the half-mile march from Holy Trinity Church to Planned Parenthood, where Bishop Moynihan led the recitation of the rosary.
Cindy Falise, diocesan director of the Respect Life Office, explained that her office helped organized and implement the day’s activities. “The date for the march has been set for over a year,” stated Falise. “We contacted the police to get a permit and escorts for the procession. We also did the advertising and sent fliers to the parishes and schools to get the word out.”
For Allison Schmandt, a freshman at Rome Catholic Jr./Sr. High School, this was the first time she had participated in a pro-life procession. She said that she wanted to come show her support for pro-life and plans to return next year. “It is important to come to the procession and show your support. I think that everyone deserves a right to live. Life is very precious and no one has the right to kill an unborn baby,” Allison said. “God gave every life a purpose and everyone should have the chance to live.”