Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., was principal celebrant of the Respect Life Mass. Concelebrating priests were Msgr. Joseph Roldan, Cathedral rector, left, Father Michael Wallack, pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish, Allentown, and Father Neiser Cardenas, Cathedral parochial vicar.
Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., was principal celebrant of the Respect Life Mass. Concelebrating priests were Msgr. Joseph Roldan, Cathedral rector, left, Father Michael Wallack, pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish, Allentown, and Father Neiser Cardenas, Cathedral parochial vicar.

Kerry Muller and her eight young children from 12 years old to 18 months entered St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, to attend the Respect Life Mass celebrated by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M.

PHOTO GALLERY: 2020 Respect Life Mass in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton

PHOTO GALLERY: 2020 Right to Life State House Rally

It was important for Muller, a member of St. Aloysius Parish, Jackson, to bring her family to the Cathedral Jan. 22, the day that marked the 47th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States.

She said her older children “definitely have an understanding of what abortion means and the significance of Roe v. Wade,” and her younger children know that they were going to “pray for all the babies in their mommy’s bellies.

“I want to instill in my children early on what the Catholic Church teaches about the sacredness of all human life,” she said.

The Mullers joined with parishioners from throughout the Diocese and beyond to pray for the intentions of all human life, especially the more than 60 million babies who were lost to abortion.

Bishop O’Connell, who was joined at the altar by several priests of the Diocese, twice extended his appreciation to those in attendance for their prayer for the protection of the unborn and their witness to the sanctity of human life, both at the Mass and to those who were participating in the annual Rally for Life that immediately followed at the nearby State House Annex.

Keep the Faith

In his homily, Msgr. Joseph Roldan, Cathedral rector, reminded the faithful that they were gathered for the Mass in the Diocese’s Mother Church, united under the patroness of the Blessed Mother, Mary.

“Who better than her to be with us now and at the hour of our death and of those unborn?” he said.

Congregants nodded in agreement as Msgr. Roldan talked about living in a fallen world.

 “We live in a society that has claimed that the child has no right but rather the mother has a choice, a choice based on the mother’s comfort. [It’s] a choice that denies the objective truth of life within the womb, a life that has a fundamental and basic right to live, a constitutional right to life and the pursuit of happiness,” he said.

Although society may seem to be prevailing in its contradicting the respect life mindset, Msgr. Roldan exhorted the faithful to persevere. “We cannot fall into despair because we are a people of hope, ” he said.

“Our hope does not come from our power and ability to change the world or worldly mentality, rather our hope comes from God and our Lord Jesus Christ,” he said.

Referencing Scripture passages, Msgr. Roldan offered insight on how the Lord continuously invites the faithful to “fight this battle that surrounds us,” namely through prayer and by being humble.

“Humility is God’s answer to evil,” he said. “For Jesus Christ humbled himself and conquered evil by his humanity on the Cross. It was his humility that conquered death. Christ invites us to be humble and to unite our humility to his.”

Supporters of Life

Cathedral parishioner Alma Santiago Msgr. Roldan’s took words to heart.

“I think the Blessed Mother must cry when children are aborted and the way that society” thinks that those children are not worth anything,” Santiago said, tears welling in her eyes. “I keep praying for those children who have died and that the women [who are thinking of having an abortion] will have a change of heart.”

Jennifer Spivey, a science and religion teacher in Villa Victoria Academy, West Trenton, said she accompanied the school’s campus minister, Filippini Sister Ella Mae McDonald, and two students to the Mass because she believes that teachers must serve as role models and set positive examples for their students. The Mass is but one way Spivey hopes to convey a message about respecting all human life to her students.

“We need to get our priorities straight and, unfortunately, God is not a priority in the lives of many people anymore,” said Spivey, a member of Mary, Mother of the Church Parish, Bordentown. “That is why Catholic education is so important” -- because along with the academics, values and morals are taught from a faith perspective, she said.

Student Veronica Spivey said that during the Mass, she could not help but think of the many lives that were lost to abortion.Her classmate, Leia Kadelak, a member of St. Raphael-Holy Angels Parish, Hamilton, said she thought about what might have come of them had they lived.

“What if people like Rosa Parks or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been aborted?” Kadelak said.