TEMPE — Hundreds of young Catholics throughout the Diocese of Phoenix showed their love for life in its earliest stage Jan. 23.
Whether they came by the busload, a few by light rail or even their bikes, they crowded into the All Saints Catholic Newman Center at Arizona State University in support of the unborn and their parents during the annual Youth and Young Adult Rally for Life. The Diocesan Office of Marriage and Respect Life hosts the spirit-filled gathering each year as a forum for mourning the 57 million lives lost and others scarred since the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalized abortion 42 years ago.
It’s also a time to reaffirm the Catholic commitment to defend life from the moment of conception and gain the tools to do so.
“Tonight we are here as advocates. We are here as heroes. This is not our cause. The babies are,” Clarissa Quiring, coordinator of respect life and parish leadership support for the diocese, told the crowd.
She pointed out the tangible reminders rally-goers had that 22 percent of their generation never knew life outside the womb. Some 140 foam silhouettes — practically one in every pew — bore a sample name, age and vocation that an aborted child never got to pursue.
The rally featured a resource information fair showing human development in the womb, praise and worship, a keynote address and a bishop-led eucharistic procession up “A” Mountain to pray over the city.
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted called to mind the example of St. Marianne Cope, whose feast day matched this year’s rally date. She was canonized two years ago for life’s work in a leper colony in Hawaii and Catholics who have been healed by her intercession since her death in 1918.
“She knew the value of every human person. From the moment of conception there was a purpose and a value. There are no coincidences,” Bishop Olmsted said during a brief address.
Rally for Life on social media
This marked the first year social media engagement officially became a part of the annual Rally for Life at the All Saints Catholic Newman Center in Tempe.
See who was live Tweeting from the rally via this “Storify” report
He highlighted four ways today’s high school and college-aged Catholics can re-build a culture of life and noted that many are already involved in doing so. Members of ASU’s Students for Life Club plus students in the diocesan Catholic Academy for Life Leadership were among the crowd.
Brian Butler, co-founder of Dumb Ox Ministries and co-author of Theology of the Body for Teens, gave a keynote address focused on the interrelationship of love and life and how the opposite of love brings forth death. He illustrated it in his own life and through stories of others he has encountered.
Carmen Montes, 26, came with more than 20 youth from Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish. She said it’s tough to grasp how some people think abortion is right and said it’s important to raise the pro-life voice in little ways.
She has done so on her own and by supporting Voces por La Vida efforts in the past. Montes counted herself among the hundreds of thousands who marched for life in single-digit temperatures in Washington, D.C. last year.