PROVIDENCE — “We’re swimming upstream trying to live the culture of life, and the evil one wants to isolate us, separate us, make us second guess ourselves in the value of what we are doing. But the power of love, when joined to the Cross of Christ, is tremendous, and we just have to keep doing what we are called to do.”
These were the words of columnist and Our Lady of Mercy, East Greenwich, parishioner Genevieve Kineke summarizing in her talk the general message of Bishop Thomas J. Tobin’s Human Life Guild Day.
The annual event, at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul on Oct. 1, was a day for local Catholics to listen to scholars and clergy discuss various issues related to the pro-life movement, as well as to honor pro-life activists from throughout the diocese.
The day’s events began at 9 a.m. with Holy Mass with Bishop Thomas J. Tobin as the principal celebrant.
The bishop was assisted by several priests from throughout the diocese. The homily was delivered by Father Stephen Dandeneau, pastor of St. Eugene’s parish in Chepachet who also serves as chaplain of the Human Life Guild. Father Dandeneau’s homily focused on the intersection of the pro-life cause and the broader, spiritual elements of human life.
“As we begin this day, with all its ruminations on human life and working for justice, a most worthy and important reflection for each of us to begin with is the Kingdom of God, and the fact that we’re called to receive it as little children,” Father Dandeneau’s homily began.
He went on to emphasize that any violation of human dignity is a violation of the image of God within us, which in turn is an offense against God, and the best way to bring the message of the dignity of all human life into the public realm is by living in close union with Christ and imitating Him.
After Mass, Bishop Tobin honored several pro-life awardees, including two local youths, with the Human Life Guild Recognition Awards. Those honored were Andrew Morse of St. Paul’s in Cranston; Mary Fountaine of St. Mary’s in Carolina; Christine Eiva of St. Pius X in Westerly; Shane Fagan, a junior at Bishop Hendricken High School and a parishioner of St. Philip’s in Greenville; and Monica Scimeca, a parishioner at St. Brendan’s in Riverside, who was nominated for her service as a student at St. Luke’s school in Barrington.
“There’s a lot of good work in the pro-life movement going on everywhere,” said Morse, “and if everyone just helps out a little bit, it becomes something special, something magical, something holy.”
“People want to help one another out,” Morse continued. “There’s a lot of love in the world, a lot of people who want to bring their unique talents, their special gifts, to helping other people, not just to survive, but to thrive in the world, and when they work together, it can do a lot of good.”
Morse’s biggest piece of advice for those interested in joining or supporting the pro-life movement is to get involved on a local level, helping people on a one-on-one level and getting involved in local initiatives, quoting the oft-repeated phrase “all politics is local politics.”
The award ceremony was followed by brunch for those in attendance and a series of lectures in the cathedral hall on issues pertaining to the pro-life effort.
The first presentation was offered by Dr. Peter J. Colosi, an associate professor of philosophy at Salve Regina University, who provided a summary of the traditional Catholic view on euthanasia.
Colosi went on to note how an increased acceptance of euthanasia has led not only to a negligence of human dignity, but also to a radical change in how modern society views death. He contrasted the contemporary view of death, which sees death merely as the end of physical existence, which most people desire to be quick and painless, with the traditional Catholic view, which sees suffering as an opportunity to grow in holiness and virtue and death as a transition into eternity.
Following Dr. Colosi was Genevieve Kineke, a local Catholic writer and public speaker. Kineke is also the author of many books on the nature of femininity and motherhood from the perspective of Catholic theology and philosophy, including “The Authentic Catholic Woman,” and has also published a critical edition of Pope St. John Paul II’s 1988 encyclical “Mulieris Dignitatem,” which concerns the nature of womanhood and the role of women. Kineke also publishes her work on her website, “Feminine Genius.”
Her presentation centered on the nature of motherhood in the modern world. She began her lecture by meditating upon the ideological confusion that defines the modern era, which has undermined the traditional views on gender and motherhood. Kineke asserted that the true nature of femininity, and by extension motherhood, is built into the very nature of the human person as created by God, and the concept of motherhood reaches its fullest expression when examined in light of God’s Plan of salvation and the mission of the Church, which is symbolically described as a spiritual mother.
The last speaker was Father Paul Desmarais, the pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Carolina.
Father Desmarais’ lecture situated the pro-life movement within the framework of spiritual warfare, noting that one tool the devil uses to promote a culture of death was to tempt people to dehumanize their follow humans, and to demonize those who speak out in favor of the culture of life. The best way to counteract this, he said, is to affirm the reality of human dignity and to spread a message of love and repentance to those who have undergone abortion.
“I thought it was very inspiring,” said Ann Marie Vale, a parishioner of St. Patrick’s in Providence, said of the presentations delivered during Human Life Guild Day.
“I believe it really helped to solidify my belief as a Catholic in the right to life, the gift of life, and how every moment, from the moment of our birth to natural death is precious.”
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