By Deacon Tom Cuskey and Tom Maguire
At the Mass for Life on Oct. 21 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse, Bishop Douglas J. Lucia asked the congregation to consider who we are in God’s eyes, recognizing that the prophet Isaiah told us that we are each called by name before our birth.
The bishop shared a story of his late mother (whose 93rd birthday would have been Oct. 22). His parents were not expecting twins. His mother was very surprised that her labor did not end when she gave birth first to the bishop’s brother; it continued until about 6:26 in the evening, when she gave birth to the future bishop. “God wanted me to be part of their life,” Bishop Lucia said.
Speaking to a congregation that included about 300 students from diocesan Catholic schools, the Bishop also said:
• Each one of us is “part of God’s plan.”
• Our world is the product of “the goodness of creation.”
• “We all need to grow as a child of God.” God is always inviting us, no matter where we are.
• “Jesus is God’s love made flesh. God’s love is real.” God’s love is made real in the Eucharist. Through the Holy Spirit, God promises to be with us “wherever we are in the world.”
• We are “called to be God’s love for one another.”
• God says through the Holy Spirit: “‘I am with you all your days.’” You ARE the apple of God’s eye. People see their own giftedness through you.”
After the Mass, Assistant Superintendent of Catholic Schools Donald Mills announced the four winners of the Bishop James Moynihan Pro-Vita scholarship awards.
The awards are a collaboration between the diocesan Office of Family/Respect Life Ministry and the Catholic Schools Office, made possible by the HOPE Appeal. High school seniors are invited to write essays responding to the questions “Why are you pro-life, and how will you help build a culture of life?”
Assistant Superintendent Mills announced: “Bishop Moynihan was dedicated to building a culture of life, promoting vocations and strengthening Catholic schools. The Pro-Vita Award seeks to honor his legacy by granting $1,000 and $500 scholarships to high school seniors who graduate in 2022 and reside in the Syracuse Diocese. The scholarships will apply toward college tuition/expenses.”
Winning $1,000 awards were Aiden Mackey of Baker High School, Baldwinsville, and Lindsey Rice of Vestal HS. Winning $500 awards were Bishop Grimes students Abigail Docos and Herman Von Hassel. Bishop Lucia presented each award.
Mills said the quartet’s essays “were very well written.” He added that the winners are “going to do wonderful things as they continue their life and help others to see the wonderful gift of life that God grants us all.”
Grimes’ Von Hassel said his main inspiration in writing his essay was “my faith and my family.” He said, “I think that if we’re going to be pro-life we have to be pro-life in everything. … Birth until natural death. … If we’re going to be pro-life we cannot be pro–death penalty.”
As of now, Von Hassel is planning on attending William & Mary in Virginia in the fall of 2022.
Grimes’ Docos said: “I believe that every child is a gift from God and every child deserves dignity and deserves to be respected, so I’m trying to be a voice for the voiceless.”
Asked if she thought Bishop Lucia’s homily dovetailed with her essay, she said, “Yes, I think that the bishop definitely explained to us how life is a precious gift and that we need to respect and defend it. … I am pro-life so that means protecting life from conception to natural death.”
Docos has not made her college decision yet, but she is “looking at a few different colleges to study theology.”
Grimes Principal Allyson Headd said: “I’m just very proud of our Bishop Grimes students, especially Abigail and Herman for winning this award; I think it speaks volumes that there are four people chosen for the scholarship and two of them go to Bishop Grimes, so we’re just incredibly proud.”
Asked about the importance of being pro-life, she said: “The mission of the Catholic school is to educate our students on the power of life, the mystery of it and God’s presence in all things, so we’re just thrilled to be here today to celebrate that at the Cathedral.”