Participants invigorated with hope for the future following annual pro-life gathering


PROVIDENCE — The 14th annual Human Life Guild Day provided a valuable forum for the pro-life community in Rhode Island to come together and hear an important message.

“This is to educate people so they can go out into the world and make this message heard,” said Carol Owens, the Director of the Diocese of Providence’s Office of Life and Family, which sponsors Human Life Guild Day.

This year’s daylong pro-life gathering included Mass at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. Bishop Thomas J. Tobin celebrated the Mass and was assisted by Father Nicholas Fleming, the Human Life Guild chaplain.

Before the Mass, the diocesan Office of Life and Family and Rhode Island Right to Life organized a kickoff gathering for the 40 Days for Life campaign by praying the joyful mysteries of the rosary in front of the Planned Parenthood facility in Providence.

morality, an increase in abortion and venereal diseases if contraception was to become widespread.

“Prophets perceive what other people miss,” said Father Suriani, noting that the late pontiff, who will be canonized on Oct. 14, received considerable resistance from people in and outside the Church for affirming traditional Christian morality against contraception.

Promoting contraception and separating the procreative aspect from marital sexuality, Father Suriani added, also helped lead to same-sex marriage, which he said is “an easy sell” to Catholics who reject Church teaching on birth control.

“What is abortion? Backup contraception,” Father Suriani said. “Abortion is the next evil we choose when contraception fails.”

Another related topic that the pro-life audience heard was the rise of gender ideology, specifically transgenderism. Father Fleming presented the debate from a Catholic perspective, which he conceded is a sensitive topic.

“Gender ideology is flawed from the outset,” said Father Fleming, adding that transgenderism is an ideology, under the umbrella of the LGBTQ umbrella, which he said aims to render the norms of the male and female genders obsolete.

“The moment we destroy the integrity of the sexual act within marriage, ordered toward specific unitive and procreative ends, we destroy the very basis and fundamental work of our human relationships with one another,” said Father Fleming, adding that what follows “is a slippery slope that seems to have no bounds.”

In times where the culture of death seems to have a stranglehold on society, all can seem lost, but Barth Bracy, the executive director of Rhode Island Right to Life, said there is “Hope for the Future,” which was the title of his talk.

“We’re living in very difficult, dark times, but yet we have hope because of these great promises of Jesus, the great promises of our Blessed Mother,” said Bracy, who connected the theme of hope with the Blessed Sacrament.

Hope, Bracy added, has an intrinsic relationship to truth and faith. He said prayer, especially reparative prayer, before the Blessed Sacrament is vital.

“We need more prayer like we’ve never needed it before,” Bracy said.

Emily Cuellar, who just finished her fourth year of studies at Salve Regina University, presented “Being a Pro-Life Feminist,” where she dismantled the arguments that legal abortion is necessary for women to enjoy equality with men. She emphasized that the unborn are still human beings.

“You can’t say just because that child is the womb, it’s not a human person,” Cuellar said.

Saul Eiva, 61, a parishioner from St. Pius X Church, later said he was struck by the importance of contraception and Humane Vitae to the pro-life movement.

“I think we need to know the life issues,” Eiva said. “We need to respect life.”

“I’m a firm believer in the pro-life movement and saving the unborn. We have to be their voice,” said Pat Stroke, a parishioner of St. John and Paul Church in Coventry.

The event also included the presentations of the Human Life Guild Awards for 2018: George Neubauer, of St. Luke Church, was the male recipient while Elaine Pegnam, a parishioner of Saints John and Paul Church, was the female recipient. Barbara Simone, a parishioner of St. Luke Church, received the Pastoral Care Award while Ada Pizzo, a parishioner of Saints John and Paul Church who will be making her confirmation in October, received the Youth Award.

“We need to hear this message,” said Matthew Ray, a parishioner of Sacred Heart Church in West Warwick who has been attending Human Life Guild Day for several years.

“It gives us strength that bolsters our resolve,” Ray said. “It just helps us to continue to fight for life, instead of going along with the culture of death, which the nation has been unfortunately subject to.”

As it does every year, Human Life Guild Day featured a speaking program where local clergy and pro-life leaders discussed topics relevant to the pro-life movement, such as the 50th anniversary of Humane Vitae, the 1968 encyclical written by Blessed Pope Paul VI that reaffirmed the Church’s teaching on marriage and contraception.

Father Raymond Suriani, the retired pastor of St. Pius X Church in Westerly who is now in residence there, likened Blessed Pope Paul VI to a prophet, noting that the pontiff warned of devastating effects, including higher rates of divorce, a decline in sexual


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