January 28th – IV Sunday in Ordinary Time

My Dear Friends,

Last weekend I returned from my 7th March for Life in Washington, D.C. with the young people of the Archdiocese and 19 pilgrims from our parish. It was a truly blessed event that had the gift of snow falling during the actual March. Since Roe v. Wade was overturned 18 months ago, the last two Marches have taken on a joyful tone by our young people, but it comes with the conviction that still more work must be done so that abortion becomes unthinkable in this country. 

One of the things that always strikes me in every March for Life and the activities that surround the March is the extraordinary faith of young Catholics in our country. Many travel by bus from remote parts of the Midwest or northeast through adverse conditions just to get to DC, participate in the March, and then hop right back on the bus to go home. On the morning of the March, we participated in LifeFest which is a morning of praise, witness, and Mass hosted by the Sisters of Life who are some of the most joy-filled nuns you will every meet (after our own Carmelite Sisters, of course). About a hundred priests were in attendance which was providential because there were a lot of kids who wanted to go to confession. After confession, I was talking to a young man who told me he had traveled from somewhere in Nebraska and that they traveled 23 hours by bus. When I asked him if they made a stop along the way, he responded very innocently, “Oh yeah, Father, we stopped in gas stations along the way.” I really meant if they stopped in a hotel to break up the trip, and he just smiled when I said that. They truly went on a long, sacrificial pilgrimage through the snow and sub-freezing temperatures to be able to get to our nation’s capital to witness to life. 

A couple of weeks ago, someone pointed out to me the Church’s dwindling numbers. I quickly responded that the Church actually grew in 2023, our parish is about to receive a record number of Catechumens into the Church this Easter, and that our Mass attendance has increased since the pandemic. I forgot to tell this person that every January I witness hundreds of thousands of young Catholics marching for life in frigid temperatures on fire with the Holy Spirit. It should be noted that those who like to point out the Church’s demise are people that are usually at odds with the Church. This was evident in Washington as we found several billboards throughout town put up by pro-abortion groups questioning our presence in DC and asking our young people if they came there out of conviction or because they got time off from school. 

When you stand up for something bold, there will be many who will try to bring you down. Thankfully our young people did not encounter counter-protesters. We went in peace. We marched, we prayed, we sang, and with great joy, we even got into snowball fights before and after the March because what else are young Miamians going to do when surrounded by 6 inches of snow?  

It is this joy and conviction that I witnessed in our young people that I pray spread throughout our community. We are so proud of these young Catholics because despite everything the world tells them, they still stand up for Christ, for their faith, and for the defense of human life from conception to natural death. Their courageous witness inspires me as their pastor and should inspire all of us to pray and work tireless for the unborn and to defend all human life.

God Bless You All,

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