Starting the July 4th Independence Day holiday with a morning of prayer for our nation has become a tradition at the Mary Help of Christians Chapel at the Marian Shrine in Stony Point. With plenty of time left in the day for barbecues and fireworks, hundreds first come here to ask God for his blessing and healing for America, its leaders and its people, and to pray for a restoration of respect for the gift of Life.
The morning included mass, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and recitation of the rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet. The concelebrants were three priests who are known for their prolife efforts in Rockland: Fr. Nicholas Callahan, formerly of St. Catherine’s in Blauvelt and now studying canon law in Rome, Fr. Brendan Gormley of St.Anthony’s in Yonkers, and Fr. John Wilson of St. Gregory’s in Garnerville.
The main celebrant and homilist was Fr. Nicholas who spoke about why the prolife movement has reason for hope, even in the face of recent Supreme Court rulings against us. Drawing a comparison between the impact of death and horror on the battlefield and the response to the slaughter of millions by abortion, he said that there eventually comes a point of great “discouragement and exhaustion” against the familiarity of “blood, futility, suffering, and death.” That happens, he said, because we are made to love life, and it’s “what the human soul wants to have.” There will be a turning point where the cause for life will prevail.
And also, he noted, from a theological point of view, the battle against evil has already been won on the Cross, where we find in Christ the “grace to repair every heart and heal every wound.”
At the end of mass, the crowd lined up in the vestibule to receive the “first blessing” from Fr. John Wilson, who was recently ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of New York.
This annual morning of prayer, sponsored by the Rockland County Catholic Coalition and the Helpers of Gods’ Precious Infants, has become an occasion where many who have spent decades in the prolife movement get the chance to see each other again. Margie Fitton, co-founder of Rockland Right to Life and past president, was among the worshippers. Eileen Peterson was organist and led the choir.