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Pro-life leaders honored at Cathedral Mass


Just because Covid put the kibosh on the Buffalo Diocese’s annual trip to the March for Life in the nation’s capital doesn’t mean the diocese will be any less active this year in the defense of the unborn.

Bishop Michael W. Fisher meets the recipients of the 2022 Pro-Vita Awards. The award goes to those who work tirelessly for the pro-life cause. The annual Pro-Vita Mass was held at St. Joseph Cathedral on Jan. 15. (Photo by Patrick J. Buechi)

On Jan. 15, the Office of Pastoral Ministries – Pro-Life held a Pro-Vita Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral, where those who have dedicated their time to the cause of life were recognized and honored. 

“It’s good that we start the year with the understanding that we are a people of life. God has given us life and the gift of life, and we give thanks to all of you who work tirelessly for the good of life in our world and in our community,” said Bishop Michael W. Fisher, as he welcomed the Respect Life coordinators, pastors and chaplains who showed up on the frigid Saturday evening.

Readings from Isiah turned attention to how much God loves His children.

“Life, especially human life, is precious and a gift as part of God’s plan,” Bishop Fisher said in his homily. “When we listen to these readings, I get a sense of warmth and am amazed and astounded by what the Scriptures are saying in God’s mind and God’s heart, and what He is saying about us, His creation. But not just any part of the creation, the crown of His creation – human life.”

God speaks through Isiah, calling humans “His delight.” 

“What powerful words. To think that our God thinks of us in that way,” the bishop noted.

St. Paul reflects upon the Spirit that is each of us and gives unique gifts to each child of God that contributes to the holiness of our world. Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine at a wedding feast, where the family unit begins.

“These readings show how important to God we are and how He wants the best for those He sees as His delight,” the bishop explained.

With increased science and technology, Bishop Fisher thinks the 21st century should see a heightened religious experience that creates a world of life, but worries it could end up being great peril if we continue to build a world of death.

“Each one of us brings potential to building up our world to be a better place,” he said.

The Covid pandemic brought a few changes to this year’s presentation of the Pro-Vita Awards. First, no hugging. Secondly, the cathedral saw a very small congregation, as many of the Pro-Vita awardees did not make it to the ceremony. 

The Pro-Vita Award go to people who have worked tirelessly for the cause of life.

This years awardees include Western New York Pastors for Life, Lydia Hyla, Sister Roberta Fulton, Deacon Tim and Colleen Coughlin, and Marianne Schuler who passed away on Dec. 28, 2021.

Hyla, 24, not only volunteers at the St. Gianna Molla Pregnancy Center and Mother Teresa Home, she works as an EMT and plans to attend Medical school. So, she knows the value of life. 

Cheryl Calire, executive director of the Office of Pastoral Ministries, says hello to Max D’Andrea and little Sofia after the annual Pro-Vita Mass held at St. Joseph Cathedral on Jan. 15. (Photo by Patrick J. Buechi)

“I really like seeing the actual effects of the families that are being helped,” she said of her efforts. “I can see when they really need things and how appreciative they are. I know we are actually making a difference in these people’s lives.”

A special Keeping Moms in Excellency’s Care Award, named in honor of Bishop Edward U. Kmiec, was given to Charisma, a resident at the Mother Teresa Home. She received a $200 gift card towards a crib for the son she is expecting in March.

St. Gregory the Great Parish in Williamsville will host a Youth Rally and Mass, as well as a local March for Life on Jan. 22.