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Local communities observe National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children

  • Father Thomas Sullivan leads a prayer service for the National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children outside the Knights of Columbus Council 252 hall in Norwood Sept. 14. Pilot photo/Jacqueline Tetrault
  • Participants in the Lawrence prayer service are pictured around the memorial for the unborn at St. Mary Cemetery. Pilot photo/courtesy Debbie Papalia

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NORWOOD -- Several Eastern Massachusetts communities held prayer services in honor of the unborn on Sept. 14, joining over 200 locations across the country observing the National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children.

This annual event is co-sponsored by Priests for Life, Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, and the Pro-Life Action League. On this day, prayer vigils are held at cemeteries or monuments to the unborn, many of which have been set up by Knights of Columbus councils. According to the event website, there are 52 locations in the United States where the remains of aborted children are buried.

One prayer service was held outside the Knights of Columbus Council 252 hall in Norwood, where there is a monument to the unborn. About 30 people attended the prayer service, which was organized by the Norwood chapter of Massachusetts Citizens for Life.

Father Thomas Sullivan, a parochial vicar of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Norwood, offered a reflection during the service. He noted that the Day of Remembrance fell on the feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross.

"Don't let political back and forth rob you of your peace. Don't let victories and defeats get you too high or too low in this vale of tears. Stay steady. Final victory was already secured on the cross," Father Sullivan told the attendees.

Marie, a parishioner of St. Theresa of Avila Parish in West Roxbury, attended the Norwood service. She brought a banner depicting Our Lady of Guadalupe, which the knights hung around the monument.

Speaking to the Pilot after the service, Marie said being there brought two emotions: "One of sadness that this is going on for so many years, and one of joy and hope that so many people understand the need to know that God was the creator and we are the gift from him."

Also, on that day more than 80 people gathered for a bilingual prayer service at St. Mary Cemetery in Lawrence, where there is a memorial for the unborn, dedicated by the Knights of Columbus.

Father Alonso Macias -- who leads a pro-life group at St. Patrick Parish in Lawrence -- offered prayers and blessings. Members of the Knights of Columbus from the Father James O'Donnell Fourth Degree Assembly #393 stood guard.

In Malden, Father Michael McNamara of the Servants of Christ Ministries of Scituate led a prayer service at the burial site of 12 aborted babies in Holy Cross Cemetery. Rita Russo, coordinator of 40 Days for Life in Boston, was one of about 60 people who attended.

"I think it's a very important thing to raise consciousness and awareness, and it is also a beautiful opportunity for women who are suffering from their past abortion to find comfort and healing by being able to honor their children's lives," Russo said, speaking to the Pilot on Sept. 16.

This was evident during the prayer service at St. Mary Cemetery in North Attleborough, where people who had lost family members to abortion participated in a memorial program.

Kathy Hill, who helped organize the North Attleborough service, is the Massachusetts regional coordinator of Silent No More, a campaign to raise public awareness of the emotional and physical pain experienced after an abortion.

Hill holds Bible studies for post-abortive women through Abundant Hope Pregnancy Center in Attleboro. One part of the Bible study involves naming and writing letters to one's aborted child.

"Generally, after an abortion, mothers will repress it so much, and just struggle with all those emotions. It's such a complicated grief that they just ignore it. So this gives them that first opportunity to really grieve," Hill told the Pilot in a Sept. 17 interview.

Three people who had gone through Hill's program read their letters at the North Attleborough prayer service. Among them was a man who had paid for an abortion for his son's girlfriend and wrote a letter to his granddaughter. A woman who had gone through the program a few years earlier played her guitar and shared her testimony of healing after abortion.

Hill said about 40 people, representing nine parishes, attended the North Attleborough prayer service, including several students and campus ministry leaders from Bishop Feehan High School in Attleboro.

"It's such a blessing to those people who have suffered through abortions, that they want to stand there with them and acknowledge their little baby, that their child has a soul, that soul is eternal, and that no matter how short a time that that soul and that child might have been in their mother's womb on this earth, we're validating that life. It's just a beautiful moment where mothers, fathers, grandfathers can grieve their child, and then they can have that surrounding community to grieve with them," Hill said.

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