On the grounds of Corpus Christi Parish is a newly blessed monument dedicated to the many thousands of lives that have been lost to abortion while serving as a pointed reminder to all that all life is sacred — from the moment of conception until natural death.
Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., visited the Willingboro parish community during Respect Life Month. He celebrated Mass Oct. 22, then blessed the stone monument depicting an image of St. Joseph, who is holding the Christ Child on one arm and holding lilies in his other hand. Engraved below the image is the phrase, “In memory of the unborn children.”
Father John Testa, pastor, said the Monument to the Unborn was given as a gift to the parish by the former Sacred Heart Council, Knights of Columbus, which ceased operations earlier this year because of declining membership.
“The monument needed a new home, and we are happy to provide that on our campus,” said Father Testa, extending appreciation for facilitating the monument’s transfer to Butch Paramore, the council’s past Grand Knight, who also serves as an usher in the parish.
“This monument is erected to the memory of those innocents who have died unjustly, whose lives were taken from them while they grew silently in their mother's wombs,” he said.
PHOTO GALLERY: Bishop blesses monument to unborn in Willingboro parish
Paramore, who is a Fourth Degree Knight and is now a member of the neighboring Delran council, said the Sacred Heart council members purchased the monument about 10 years ago as a way to pay tribute to all human life and as a way to honor the loved ones of members who have died.
The council, Paramore noted, had been very active in respect life works, including raising funds for 1st Way of Burlington County, a pregnancy resource center; hosting a Christmas party at a local facility for senior citizens; and a dance for people with disabilities. He said he was pleased that while the Sacred Heart Council has disbanded, most members have joined other neighboring councils and are able to continue works that promote respect for life.
“It’s an honor to have the Bishop visit Corpus Christi and bless the monument,” Paramore said.
In his homily during Mass, Bishop O’Connell shared a respect life message while preaching on the day’s familiar Gospel, “Paying Taxes to the Emperor,” and its familiar passage, “repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
He pointed out that Jesus’ words had nothing at all to do with taxes but “has everything to do with how we live our lives.”
“We can give Caesar his due. We can understand the role of government in our lives, but when government calls us to overlook what is due to God — life — then we have cause to pause and consider how we should act,” said Bishop O’Connell.
“When government forgets that we are all children of God and asks us to overlook the dignity of being marked by God, when law carelessly pushes aside the sacredness of life as the great gift of God, then allegiance to Cesar is in conflict with our allegiance to God,” the Bishop said.
Bishop O’Connell emphasized that the day’s Gospel “reminds each of us that while government has a right to and just place in our lives, it can never cause us to fail to respect the profound truth that each and every one of us is marked by God and, therefore, belong to God and not to the government.”
Shown is the Monument to the Unborn on the grounds of Corpus Christi Parish, Willingboro, that was blessed by Bishop O'Connell Oct. 22. Ron Maniglia photo