Faithful, advocates mark first anniversary of Roe reversal with Mass, Rally for Life

June 24, 2023 at 8:41 p.m.
Faithful, advocates mark first anniversary of Roe reversal with Mass, Rally for Life
Faithful, advocates mark first anniversary of Roe reversal with Mass, Rally for Life


Hundreds of advocates for the sanctity of pre-born human life gathered in Trenton from across New Jersey June 24 to commemorate the first anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's reversal of its 1973 Roe v Wade decision, which had legalized abortion at all stages of pregnancy.

The pro-life advocates -- many hailing from the four-county Diocese of Trenton – began their day by attending a Mass for Life celebrated in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, with Msgr. Joseph Roldan, Cathedral rector, serving as principal celebrant and homilist. After Mass, the assembled communicants walked to the nearby New Jersey Statehouse Annex where they joined other advocates for a peaceful and prayerful Rally for Life  organized by NJ Right to Life.

Called to Act

“We come and pray together for the birth of all God’s children,” Msgr. Roldan observed in his homily, pointing out that it was the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.

“This day that we celebrate is the day our Supreme Court recognized the reality that life matters and no one has a right to end life,” he said. “Abortion simply ends life.”

Msgr. Roldan pointed to the emotional and fractious nature of the abortion issue, causing divisiveness within families, among friends, in the community at-large and even in parish communities. 

“It’s for this reason, that many would rather not bring up the word or discuss the topic” because they view abortion as a political subject and something that should not be discussed among family and friends, he said.

“Abortion is not a political issue, although we have allowed it to become one,” he said.

Referring to the day’s First Reading from the Book of Isaiah, “Before I was born, the Lord chose me,” Msgr. Roldan said that the Lord “forms and chooses all of us in our mother’s womb and the Lord has greatness for us.

“. . . with this greatness comes responsibilities,” he added. “As Christians, as God-fearing Catholics, we are called to action. The Church has and will always call us to defend all that is sacred and good.”

Post-Dobbs Progress

After Mass, a large group of congregants walked to the Statehouse for the rally where they prayed together and heard from an array of speakers, including prolife politicians, medical professionals and leaders of organizations who provide care for unborn children and their mothers. Participants representing the Diocese of Trenton included Father James O’Neill, pastor of St. John Parish, Lakehurst, and respect life chaplain for Ocean County, who led the opening prayer.  U.S. Congressman Chris Smith, a native son of the Diocese, also spoke.

“Dobbs is the game changer and God-willing, the beginning of the end of the culture of death,” said Smith, a member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Whiting. “It is an engraved invitation to policy makers at every level including Congress and the President to protect unborn children from the violence of abortion. The sacred burden to double down on our vital life-saving work has never been clearer.”

Congressman Smith noted that since the Dobbs decision, 14 states have banned abortion while others have enacted laws to prohibit abortions at six weeks, 12 weeks, 15 weeks, 18 weeks  and 20 weeks. Another eight states have new protections that have been blocked by lower courts “and we hope they will be sustained,” he said.

Encouraging Moments

Dave Larkin of Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton, found the day’s prayers and homily on the need to protect life to resonate on the first anniversary of the overturning of Roe v Wade.

“I left today’s activities filled with the hope that progress can be made in New Jersey,” he said, but “given the current administration, it’s an uphill battle.

“The NJ voting population needs to educate themselves on the pro-abortion legislation (and tax dollars spent on increasing abortion access) that has been passed over the past four years,” he said.

“Hopefully realizing this will prompt them to support their pro- life candidates in the critical November election.”

Peg Campbell of St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Cinnaminson, traveled to Trenton with four others to show appreciation for the Dobbs Supreme Court decision.

“As Jesus always prayed before big events, we Catholics prayed at the holy sacrifice of the Mass before going to the Statehouse,” she said, adding that the homily and rally speakers “clearly stated the humanity of the unborn and how resources are available for any pregnant mother.

“I hope and pray that the citizens of New Jersey will enact laws that protect women and their children,” Campbell said. 


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Hundreds of advocates for the sanctity of pre-born human life gathered in Trenton from across New Jersey June 24 to commemorate the first anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's reversal of its 1973 Roe v Wade decision, which had legalized abortion at all stages of pregnancy.

The pro-life advocates -- many hailing from the four-county Diocese of Trenton – began their day by attending a Mass for Life celebrated in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, with Msgr. Joseph Roldan, Cathedral rector, serving as principal celebrant and homilist. After Mass, the assembled communicants walked to the nearby New Jersey Statehouse Annex where they joined other advocates for a peaceful and prayerful Rally for Life  organized by NJ Right to Life.

Called to Act

“We come and pray together for the birth of all God’s children,” Msgr. Roldan observed in his homily, pointing out that it was the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.

“This day that we celebrate is the day our Supreme Court recognized the reality that life matters and no one has a right to end life,” he said. “Abortion simply ends life.”

Msgr. Roldan pointed to the emotional and fractious nature of the abortion issue, causing divisiveness within families, among friends, in the community at-large and even in parish communities. 

“It’s for this reason, that many would rather not bring up the word or discuss the topic” because they view abortion as a political subject and something that should not be discussed among family and friends, he said.

“Abortion is not a political issue, although we have allowed it to become one,” he said.

Referring to the day’s First Reading from the Book of Isaiah, “Before I was born, the Lord chose me,” Msgr. Roldan said that the Lord “forms and chooses all of us in our mother’s womb and the Lord has greatness for us.

“. . . with this greatness comes responsibilities,” he added. “As Christians, as God-fearing Catholics, we are called to action. The Church has and will always call us to defend all that is sacred and good.”

Post-Dobbs Progress

After Mass, a large group of congregants walked to the Statehouse for the rally where they prayed together and heard from an array of speakers, including prolife politicians, medical professionals and leaders of organizations who provide care for unborn children and their mothers. Participants representing the Diocese of Trenton included Father James O’Neill, pastor of St. John Parish, Lakehurst, and respect life chaplain for Ocean County, who led the opening prayer.  U.S. Congressman Chris Smith, a native son of the Diocese, also spoke.

“Dobbs is the game changer and God-willing, the beginning of the end of the culture of death,” said Smith, a member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Whiting. “It is an engraved invitation to policy makers at every level including Congress and the President to protect unborn children from the violence of abortion. The sacred burden to double down on our vital life-saving work has never been clearer.”

Congressman Smith noted that since the Dobbs decision, 14 states have banned abortion while others have enacted laws to prohibit abortions at six weeks, 12 weeks, 15 weeks, 18 weeks  and 20 weeks. Another eight states have new protections that have been blocked by lower courts “and we hope they will be sustained,” he said.

Encouraging Moments

Dave Larkin of Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton, found the day’s prayers and homily on the need to protect life to resonate on the first anniversary of the overturning of Roe v Wade.

“I left today’s activities filled with the hope that progress can be made in New Jersey,” he said, but “given the current administration, it’s an uphill battle.

“The NJ voting population needs to educate themselves on the pro-abortion legislation (and tax dollars spent on increasing abortion access) that has been passed over the past four years,” he said.

“Hopefully realizing this will prompt them to support their pro- life candidates in the critical November election.”

Peg Campbell of St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Cinnaminson, traveled to Trenton with four others to show appreciation for the Dobbs Supreme Court decision.

“As Jesus always prayed before big events, we Catholics prayed at the holy sacrifice of the Mass before going to the Statehouse,” she said, adding that the homily and rally speakers “clearly stated the humanity of the unborn and how resources are available for any pregnant mother.

“I hope and pray that the citizens of New Jersey will enact laws that protect women and their children,” Campbell said. 

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