By Megan Erbacher
The Message assistant editor
On Jan. 29, Bishop Joseph M. Siegel celebrated a Mass for Life at St. Benedict Cathedral in Evansville. Bishop Siegel said the Mass was an opportunity to thank God for His most precious gift – the gift of life itself.
Attendance was limited by COVID-19 social-distancing guidelines. It was the first Mass to be simultaneously livestreamed on the Diocese of Evansville YouTube Channel and the St. Benedict Cathedral Facebook page. Links to watch the Mass can be found at the end of this article.
Eleven priests of the diocese concelebrated the Mass with Bishop Siegel. The lector for Mass was Roselia Juan, who offered the first reading (Isaiah 46:1-6) in Spanish.
In his homily, Bishop Siegel said that, as Catholics, we affirm that each human life is precious and irreplaceable, and so must be reverenced and protected from conception until natural death.
Especially disconcerting for Catholics, Bishop Siegel said, were President Joe Biden's actions to require taxpayer funding for abortions in foreign countries and his stated intention to try to overturn the Hyde amendment, which prohibits such funding for abortions in our country.
The bishop said it will take courage to speak truth to power and to peacefully proclaim the truth that all life is precious and must be protected by law, from the womb to the end of life. With God's grace, he said, we can and must persevere.
We must each do our part in helping foster what St. John Paul II called a "culture of life," Bishop Siegel said, wherein all human beings no matter their age, health, economic status or level of development must be respected.
Jan. 22 marked the 48th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which has resulted in more than 60 million legally terminated pregnancies. For this reason, Bishop Siegel said the United States bishops consider abortion the "preeminent" issue among the many life issues.
The bishop said our commitment to life spurs us to serve those in need and to work to defend the unborn and all the vulnerable – the sick and dying, the poor, the refugee and victims of racism, and even those on death row – and to work to change unjust laws that devalue members of those groups and put their lives at risk.
Bishop Siegel shared examples of outreach across the diocese, which include the "Walking with Moms in Need" program that serves women in crisis pregnancies; Project Rachel for women and others involved in abortion, to help bring them reconciliation and healing; the Knights of Columbus have provided sonogram machines to crisis pregnancy centers; Safe Haven Baby Boxes at fire stations to offer a safe place for mothers to leave babies when they feel they cannot care for them; and Catholic Charities and St. Vincent de Paul Societies, who provide assistance to countless people in need.
The Bishop concluded by commending all efforts to build a culture of life and to seek the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit. He prayed that Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer, intercede for us as we strive to be faithful missionaries of the Gospel of Life.
A Holy Hour followed Mass. It included a selection of readings from church fathers, documents and saints alternating with periods of silence. Holy Hour readers were Dr. Bill Blanke and Paulette Laducer.
To watch or rewatch the Mass for Life, visit the Diocese of Evansville YouTube channel - Catholic Diocese of Evansville, IN - youtube.com/c/CatholicDioceseofEvansvilleIndiana. The Mass is also on St. Benedict Cathedral’s Facebook page: facebook.com/saintbenedictcathedral/.
The Diocese of Evansville’s 2021 Pilgrimage for Life was canceled because of the coronavirus. In lieu of the pilgrimage, the diocesan offices of Catechesis, Education, Family Life, Hispanic Ministry and Youth and Young Adult Ministry collaborated on resources to use to Stand for Life. To access the resources, visit evdio.org, the homepage of the Diocese of Evansville.