“Every human person is created in the image and likeness of God,” Anchorage Archbishop Paul Etienne told a gathering of pro-life Alaskans last month. “But we see a lack of respect for the human person in so many ways throughout the world. Every human person comes forth from divine life, from the life of God himself. It’s good for us to publicly bring that simple connection to the forefront.”
Dozens of participants gathered Jan. 20 at Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery to mark the 45th year of the Supreme Court rulings that legalized abortion across the nation.
“We have an issue we need to face, and that issue is only going to be overcome by the power of prayer, and with God’s grace,” said George Neuerburg, emcee for the event from Saint Patrick’s Knights of Columbus Council.
Late Anchorage Archbishop Francis Hurley and the Knights of Columbus organized the first annual prayer service in 2000 while placing a headstone in the cemetery commemorating children who have lost their lives to abortion. People of many faiths and from several organizations were represented at the most recent gathering, where many shared a few words and prayed for the nation to respect all human life, from conception to natural death.
During the prayer service, several participants, mostly children, placed roses in front of the memorial headstone. Each rose commemorated over a million children who have died. A representative from the organization Silent No More read a list of names of children whose mothers regretted their abortion. The list is but a fraction of the number of abortions performed on a daily basis.
“Each one of us represents a soldier in the army against abortion,” said Alaskan Senator Cathy Giessel. “All of us together can win this battle because it is (God’s) will that abortion be eliminated. Truly, that’s all that matters: the Lord’s will be done, and his will is to save lives — ours and the unborn’s. Sometimes we feel like there’s just a few of us. I want to assure you that in the legislature, there’s a strong cadre of legislators that are pro-life. Sometimes we can’t quite overcome the opposition, but we have not given up. So keep asking that question of people who want to run for office: what do you believe about the value of human life? That’s the core question. Keep asking them and don’t give up what you’re doing.”
Sheri Schmitz shared how the Community Pregnancy Center is currently making a difference in the lives of parents in crisis.
“For 34 years, we’ve been here in Alaska meeting women and men at their point of crisis,” she said. “About 500 women a year make their way into the center, and over 90 percent of them choose life after we’re able to visit with them.”
Schmitz also shared a startling statistic.
“Forty percent of abortions performed are on women who are actively involved in a church,” she said. “The women who is sitting next to you in a pew on Sunday may go down to the clinic on Monday and abort her baby, because she’s fearful, she’s in crisis, and she doesn’t talk to the people of the church about it. Our prayer for 2018 is that the church will grab the hand of the woman sitting next to us in the pew and say, ‘We want to help, we’re here to help, and we want to walk with you through this.’”
Archbishop Etienne noted that a greater understanding of our “own connections with God” can help us show others how to “live with greater reverence and respect.”
“We will hopefully lead our culture away from so much violence and division, to finally move once again to legally protect the life of the unborn, to legally remove the possibilities for the death penalty, to no longer allow for the taking of any human life for any reason,” he said. “God is the author of life, and God alone determines the end of a natural life. We gather today to recognize that sanctity of life and to show our respect for every human person, and so we do so by turning to God in prayer.”