By Laura Keener
Before the March for Life, Friday, Jan. 19, Washington, D.C., Bishop Roger Foys celebrated Mass at St. Dominic Church with nearly 1,200 pilgrims who traveled from the Diocese of Covington — the diocese’s largest contingent ever. Pilgrims included priests — Father Daniel Schomaker, Father Ryan Maher, Father Michael Black, Father Michael Comer, Father Matthew Cushing, Father Michael Hennigen, Father Ross Kelsch, Father Michael Norton, Father Ryan Stenger and Father Andrew Young — seminarians, women religious, families (two busloads) and 22 busloads of teens from all nine Catholic high schools and middle-school students from St. Joseph Academy, Walton.
Bishop Foys began his homily quoting Jesus, “See that you do not despise these little ones because angels are watching over them.”
“We are here, again, to march for life,” Bishop Foys said. “If Jesus cared so much for those little ones in his midst, can you imagine how much he cares for those who are absolutely defenseless, who have no voice, those inside the womb who are at the mercy of everyone and anyone? It’s a horrible thing that for 45 years we have been fighting this fight.”
Bishop Foys told the pilgrims that he feels a personal connection with the pro-life movement because 1973, the year the Supreme Court decided the Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion in the United States, was also the same year that he was ordained a priest. He has since used his priesthood to support the pro-life movement with the hope that one day, during his lifetime, the law would be overturned.
“One person’s efforts might not seem like a lot but if you put those efforts together with others it takes on new meaning,” he said. “So we are here again to speak for those who have no voice, to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves, to stand up for what is right and holy and true.”
Referring to an article on the Life News website, “15 of the Greatest Pro-Life Quotes of All Time,” Bishop Foys said that the pro-life movement is not a political problem and it is not a Catholic problem — there are many people who support the right to life of all people from conception to natural death. But for people of faith, the first place to seek a solution is prayer and in our own lives.
“This is not a Catholic problem, sometimes we are led to believe that it is. There’s even a quote in there from Beyoncé, I came across it last night,” he said.
“This isn’t a political problem, it’s not a political issue, it’s a moral issue — it’s an issue of right and wrong. So, we do what we can, but the first thing we need to do is to pray and then to change our own hearts and change our own lives.
“There are so many people in our world, in our country, people we all know who are selfish, who think only of how things affect them. What’s in it for them? Is it a distraction? Is it infringing on my time? One thing that truthfully aggravates me is people who are selfish about their time — anything that’s going to infringe on their time, their free time, is bad. It’s a disease in our world, in our country, in our Church.
“We can start by being generous with our time and with our talents, by being willing to work for and serve others, to be willing to look after their needs — a change of heart, change of attitude, change of mind, change in our way of living. That’s part of why we come together, to stand up for what’s right and to say that there has to be a change in the way we live our lives.”
Bishop Foys ended his homily with a word of encouragement and gratitude for those attending the march.
“Thank you. Thanks to each one of you for being here today,” Bishop Foys said. “Don’t give up the fight, especially you young people — continue the fight, don’t give up. You stand up for what is right and true and just. If you stand up for what is right and true, in the end, trust me, you will be at peace. You can change the world.”
In a interview about the March for Life after returning home, Faye Roch, director, Pro-Life Office, and organizer of the March for Life trip, said, “For the last nine years we have started the day at St. Dominic Church with Mass with Bishop Foys and over 1,200 pilgrims from the Diocese of Covington. I can’t tell you how powerful and emotional this Mass is. To be in the presence of so many young people who have made a long trip to witness to the sanctity of life. At the march later in the afternoon, these same young people also get to be in the presence of hundreds of thousands of others who are witness to the same. The adults who make the trip, who have never gone before, are truly amazed at the presence and the witness of so many. Most are surprised at the joyful, peaceful and prayerful witness of such a large group.
“Each year my hope is that Roe v. Wade will be overturned and this may be the last,” she said.