By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
LONG GROVE —“Today is truly a celebration of life,” said Steve Goebel, emcee for the fifth annual Black & White Gala. The Aug. 22 event at St. Ann Parish in Long Grove included Mass with Bishop Martin Amos, an auction, life ministry tables with information, raffle and door prizes — all to raise awareness and funds for pro-life activities in the Quad-City area.
Msgr. Drake Shafer, Msgr. James Parizek, Father Paul Connolly, Father James Vrba and Father William Meyer, all priests of the Davenport Diocese, concelebrated the Mass, which marked the Feast of the Queenship of Mary.
Msgr. Shafer, pastor of the Long Grove parish, pointed out that two statues honoring Mary from the former Immaculate Conception Academy in Davenport now reside at the parish after being taken out of storage and restored. The statue of Mary, Queen of Heaven, is in the sanctuary while the Immaculate Concep-tion statue is outside the great hall parish center.
“Can you just hear the choir of Kings College in Cambridge singing Handel’s Messiah: The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light,” Bishop Martin asked during his homily. “Then the full choir breaks out into ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.’”
He referenced a passage from Isaiah, which Christians have interpreted as a foretelling that Mary was to carry the son of God. “How wonderful and amazing is God’s love.”
In the waters of baptism, the bishop said, we are united to Christ. “What is our response to be?”
Referencing Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” he noted the second habit is to “begin with the end in mind.” What is our end? the bishop asked. “Those of you old enough to remember the Baltimore Catechism used to ask: Why did God make me? He made us to love and serve him in this life and be happy with him forever in heaven.
The Second Vatican Council, in the Constitution on the Church, comments that the Virgin Mary “received the word of God in her heart and in her body and gave Life (with a capital ‘L,’ he noted) to the world.”
After she completed her earthly sojourn, she was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory and exalted by the Lord as Queen of the universe. Those gathered for the Mass work in so many ways to preserve life in this world. God knows who you are and knows what you do, the bishop said.
He encouraged them, in their efforts to influence others, to “do something that operates with your values and principles,” such as supporting Project Rachel, a post-abortion ministry the diocese restarted this month.
With one out of every four pregnancies in the nation ending in abortion, addressing the cycle of post-abortion pain is more crucial, Bishop Amos said. “It is only the all-encompassing, reconciling love of Christ that can truly heal the hurt of abortion.”
The bishop said he was impressed with the number of professionals and priests who have come forward to be trained, as well as volunteers who desire to help in many ways.
“Your presence here tonight is yet another example of doing just that.”
Following Mass, more than 260 people attended the evening events. Peggy McDonnell of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf said she has three children who were all unplanned. “But I kept them all,” she said. Karl Lantzky of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport said he has been to most of the galas and does so to support the pro-life movement. “This is a wonderful thing they do and I am glad to be a part of it.”