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Professional-lifers rally within the title of affection at OneLife LA 2023

OneLife LA is a crucial custom for the Mercado household.

Yearly they make the 60-mile journey from San Bernardino County to the pro-life occasion sponsored by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to have a good time their religion – and their son. Because the festivities have been in full swing, 15-year-old Gabe wrapped his arms round his dad’s shoulders.

It was a second solely made attainable as a result of his mother mentioned no to abortion.

“His beginning mom was a teenage woman who was struggling. We’re simply so blessed that she selected life,” mentioned Wealthy Mercado, whose household attends The Holy Title of Jesus parish in Redlands. “I can not think about our household with out him.”

Love tales just like the Mercados’ weren’t onerous to search out between La Placita and Los Angeles State Historic Park on the cloudless, picture-perfect Saturday afternoon.

The Mercado household at OneLife LA on Jan. 21, 2023. (Rose Esparza/Submitted photograph)

Greater than 7,500 individuals descended on downtown Los Angeles Jan. 21 for the occasion, organized by the archdiocesan Workplace of Life, Justice and Peace. They traveled by automotive, bus and even prepare to help the dignity of life from conception to pure dying at an necessary second within the historical past of their trigger: the primary OneLife LA occasion since the overturning of roe v. Wade by the US Supreme Courtroom final June.

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez welcomed and prayed with the gang at La Placita Olvera earlier than main the mile-long noon stroll to the park. He was joined by Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishops David O’Connell and Marc Trudeau, Bishop Joseph Brennan of Fresno, and Auxiliary Bishop Ramon Bejarano of San Diego.

Archbishop Gomez thanked the animated marchers – lots of whom got here in teams organized by parishes and ministries – for being a part of this “religious motion.”

“What a pleasure it’s to be alive, to imagine in Jesus and to have a good time the reward of life,” mentioned Archbishop Gomez. “All of us wish to reside in a society the place human life is cherished and welcomed, the place everybody can reside with dignity, starting with the kid within the womb and lengthening to each individual in each situation.”

As the enormous path of individuals with banners and balloons wove by way of the streets you could possibly hear laughter, prayer and track however, sporadically, one voice rose above the fray. It belonged to Greg Perea, who got here together with his household from him – and a bullhorn.

“We’re loudly spreading the pro-life message however we’re making this a optimistic motion,” mentioned a grinning Perea, parishioner of St. John Paul II Polish Heart, Yorba Linda. “We’re attempting to point out the world we’re all about love and peace and bringing others into the sheepfold.”

Bishop Bejarano

Auxiliary Bishop Ramon Bejarano of San Diego (proper) joined Archbishop Gomez and several other 1000’s of marchers for the stroll by way of LA’s Chinatown throughout OneLife LA on Jan. 21, 2023. (Isabel Cacho)

In his remarks, Archbishop Gomez mentioned this 12 months’s OneLife LA theme, “Our mission is love,” summed up the “single objective” of our lives.

“Our mission is to radiate and to share God’s love in his creation…and after we know this it provides our lives stunning readability, a stupendous simplicity,” he mentioned.

Each One Life and San Francisco’s annual pro-life rally, March For Life West Coastin addition to related gatherings across the nation have been celebrated on the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of the Supreme Courtroom’s roe v. Wade choice.

However due to the Dobbs v. Jackson Girls’s Well being Group choice that overturned gnaws and returned the matter of regulating or limiting abortion to particular person states, individuals like Dina Martins thought this 12 months’s crowd appeared a “little extra enthusiastic.” Nonetheless, she grants, dwelling within the Golden State could make some really feel like a fish out of water.

“In California, we are the minority however you come out right here and you are not alone, you are part of one thing,” mentioned Martins, parishioner of Holy Household Catholic Church in Artesia. “If you see all these individuals right here with the identical message, it feels good.”

Bishop Bejarano, who additionally took half in San Diego’s Stroll for Life occasion Jan. 14mentioned trustworthy should not get discouraged even after the passage of Proposition 1, the state poll measure that enshrined the proper to abortion in California’s structure.

Younger individuals at La Placita close to downtown LA at the beginning of OneLife LA Jan. 21, 2023. (Stefano Garzia)

“Jesus by no means mentioned it was going to be a chunk of cake,” mentioned Bishop Bejarano. “Do not surrender. Do your finest. It is not a lot about whether or not abortion is authorized or not…our mission is to point out love and to point out individuals there are higher choices.”

Whereas abortion remains to be a “forefront battle” there’s extra to OneLife LA, says Michael P. Donaldson, senior director of the Workplace of Life, Justice and Peace.

“OneLife is all encompassing,” Donaldson defined. “We actually attempt to deal with the truth that our human dignity is beneath assault, from homelessness, psychological well being points, finish of life care, to immigration. We have to rally collectively to witness to the sacredness of human life.”

The day’s audio system had these very subjects in thoughts on the occasion stage. Attendees sat on blankets and garden chairs to hearken to highly effective tales from individuals like Mike and Penny Michalak from Louisville, Kentucky.

The Michalaks are the founders of Angels in Disguise, a company that “celebrates the reward of Down Syndrome” by supporting grants for adoption, coronary heart surgical procedure, and schooling. Additionally they based Immaculata Classical Academy, a Catholic college in Louisville that serves greater than 200 youngsters with and with out Down Syndrome.

Mike and Penny Michalak and two of their youngsters communicate at OneLife LA Jan. 21, 2023. (Stefano Garzia)

However in the present day, that they had come to speak about their youngsters. The Michalaks have 16 in complete – ten of them adopted, and 4 with Down Syndrome.

“Our world wants extra individuals with Down Syndrome,” mentioned Mike. “If our mission right here is love, our world deserves extra youngsters with Down Syndrome, as a result of [they] they’re the grasp lecturers of affection.”

Whereas the chromosomal situation is usually cited as a cause for abortion, the Michalaks spoke of the blessing that youngsters like their son, Francis, have been to them. The 7-year-old was adopted from Poland alongside together with his brother, Max, who handed away from a terminal situation associated to blood stress. Penny spoke of the legacy he left behind regardless of his quick life from her.

“He died in my arms,” shared Penny from the occasion stage by way of tears. “It was probably the most stunning, excellent means. God had a plan and I simply wanted to give up to it… He (Max) taught us to let go of our worry and reside.”

Later, Ricardo and Modesta Pulido took the stage to chants of “stomp out the stigma” to speak concerning the challenges of elevating two youngsters with bipolar issues. Ace Angelus first reported final Aprilthe couple from St. Philomena Church in Carson has volunteered with the Nationwide Alliance on Psychological Sickness and the LA Archdiocese to help households affected by these points.

“All people can have a full restoration, Amen!” mentioned Ricardo. “Therapeutic hearts begins with the Church, prayer and willpower. I am so glad that the LA Archdiocese has opened up its doorways to psychological well being ministry.”

Psychological well being advocates Rick and Modesta Pulido share their testimony on the OneLife LA occasion stage Jan. 21, 2023. (Stefano Garzia)

The day’s uplifting messages moved some within the crowd to tears.

“The audio system, their testimony, it has been nice,” mentioned Artemio Sanguino of Sacred Coronary heart Church in Lincoln Heights. “All of them touched me in a means, they made me cry.”

This 12 months’s recipient of the OneLife LA Service Grant was FosterAll, a nonprofit that companions with church buildings to assist match youngsters with foster dad and mom who’ve a religion custom. The group’s government director, Lou Moore, accepted the examine for $10,000 from Archbishop Gomez.

Later within the afternoon, the archbishop celebrated the annual Requiem Mass for the Unborn on the Cathedral of Our Woman of the Angels. Some 3,000 individuals crammed the pews to hope for the lives misplaced to abortion.

To spiritually put together for the day, the archdiocese’s Workplace of Vocations hosted a Holy Hour at St. Joseph Chapel/Santa Teresita Medical Heart in Duarte the night time earlier than, in addition to a youth rally the morning of OneLife. Amongst the lots of within the crowd, one tall younger man stood out in his darkish pinstripe go well with. Faculty pupil Grant Calderwood got here by prepare from Santa Barbara.


Rapping priest and Capuchin friar Father Victor Taglianetti performs at OneLife LA Jan. 21, 2023. (Sarah Yaklic)

“I am dressed up as a result of I imagine it is a very particular occasion,” defined Calderwood, President of College students For Life, Santa Barbara Metropolis Faculty. ‘Being a part of the pro-life era, I wish to current myself effectively and switch individuals away from abortion and assist them to allow them to have their infants.

Father Isaac Arrieta, affiliate pastor at St. Rose of Lima in Maywood, got here to the occasion with a robust mixture of affirmation college students, catechists and parishioners. He believes participation in occasions like OneLife are an necessary a part of constructing a pro-life tradition in his parish.

“We had two buses full of individuals!” cheered Father Arrieta. “In our affirmation courses, we speak to the younger individuals about this subject…this was a technique to present them it is not simply phrases, we’re right here affirming our promise to guard life.”

Maybe the massive shock of OneLife LA was when Father Victor Taglianetti (aka “Bro Vic”) began rapping on stage to a refrain of “Reward God that is fa sho.” The Capuchin Franciscan writes and data uplifting Catholic music. He mentioned the message he was attempting to get throughout to the gang was easy.

“Generally individuals could be confused about their very own value and dignity,” he informed Angelus later. “[God] doesn’t want your struggling or ache however wishes your wholeness and well-being. My message in the present day is God actually loves you.”

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