In the Garden

Right-to Life Committee of Our Lady of Good Counsel dedicates Cross of Hope

WARNERS –– A Cross of Hope was placed in the midst of the Reflection Garden of Our Lady of Good Counsel Church. Approximately 15 people gathered for the ceremony, which followed the 10 a.m. Mass on Oct. 26. The cross was a gift from the parish’s Right-to-Life Committee. Three-feet by two-feet, the plastic cross stands in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary. On top of the cross is a picture of the Virgin Mary, holding a tiny baby in the palm of her hand. Fittingly placed amid shrubs, flowers and grassy areas, the cross stands as an enduring testimony to life, said Judith Ray, chairwoman for the committee. “Crosses symbolize life,” said Ray. “We want to keep the focus of our committee on new life and what we can do to help life.”

The modest cross is set in stones and bears a resemblance to the cross on Calvary. Wendy Christopher, Right-to-Life Committee member, explained that the committee had many ideas of what the cross should look like, ranging from a small white cross to an ornate gold one. But after months of brainstorming, the committee ultimately decided to keep it simple. “We wanted the cross to look nice, but we didn’t want to spend a lot of money on it,” said Christopher. “The money could be spent on other things, like buying diapers or baby clothes.” The Right-to-Life Committee expresses its commitment by positively embracing and celebrating life. The group does not protest outside abortion clinics. There are other ways to get the point across, said Right-to-Life Committee member Sue Pernasilice.

“We do not want to dwell on aborted fetuses or stand out in front of Planned Parenthood condemning people –– that is not our job, it is God’s. We concentrate on hope for the living and the new lives to come,” she said. “God needs people who pray quietly and do other things to spread His message.” According to Pernasilice, the committee’s purpose is to educate the approximately 150 families at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church. In the year since the committee’s inception, its members have extended an invitation to parishioners to join them in the celebration of life. One way the committee reached out to the parish was through its “Spiritual Adoption Program” that began last October. The program invited each parishioner to adopt a “spiritual child,” or an imaginary baby. In turn, the committee in the church bulletin traced the spiritual child’s development, keeping parishioners informed of the growth of the child as if it had been a real baby.

The purpose of the program, explained Christopher, was to stimulate thinking about the value of the life inside an expectant mother. “It really took off. Children were asking their parents about their babies,” Christopher said of the program. In June, the committee held a baby shower for all the parishioners who adopted a spiritual child. The “adoptive parents” even named their babies during the shower. In a tremendous act of generosity, parishioners came to the shower with baby gifts in tow. At the end of the event, the committee had eight large bags overflowing with baby clothes, toys and necessities that were donated to Birthright.

This act demonstrates the open hearts of the parishioners of Our Lady of Good Counsel, said Ray. “This church is just full of good people. If there is a need, they are always there to pitch in,” she said, adding that the committee plans to sponsor the program again this year. The Right-to-Life Committee at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church has done amazing things on behalf of life in the short time it has been together. Some of their other pro-life activities include organizing a right-to-life dinner and setting up a crib in the back of the church where parishioners can donate baby items. The committee is made up of a diverse group of parishioners –– homemakers, retired persons, working men and women –– who are all committed to celebrating and affirming the sanctity of life. They see themselves as a team. “We all have different ideas to contribute, but we decide on things as a team,” said Pernasilice. As they go into their second year, members hope to attract young men and women to the committee. “It’s challenging to get middle school and high school students to join,” Christopher said. “We would love to have them. We’re always hoping to grow and generate different ideas.”

The presence of the cross in the breathtaking Reflection Garden enhances what, according to Pernasilice, is already a “picture postcard” church. It is also a reminder of the committee’s commitment to unborn children –– the hope of the future. Members want this sentiment to resonate with parishioners as they pray and meditate in the garden. Mary Ellen Bogert, Right-to-Life Committee member, anticipates children stopping to look at the cross as they play in the Reflection Garden following Masses. “It will be so nice to see them,” she remarked. “They are the reason it’s there.” Abortions are a part of the country’s landscape, but this small, vibrant group is making a difference. Step by step, it celebrates the victory of life over death. “We need to do everything we can for the unborn,” said Bogert. “The children are our jewels.”

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