by Marc and Julie Anderson
TOPEKA — More than 1,000 people from across the state participated in the annual Mass for Life on Jan. 22 celebrated by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann and Bishop Gerald Vincke, of the Diocese of Salina, as well as approximately two dozen priests.
At the start of the Mass, Archbishop Naumann thanked everyone for coming to witness for life despite the inclement weather.
“This is an anniversary which is important for us to remember and to move us to action,” he said.
The extra effort it took to attend the Mass “makes our witness more powerful and stronger. We witness to life under adverse conditions.”
Bishop Vincke opened his homily with a nod to the Kansas City Chiefs recent win, which led to the team’s first Super Bowl appearance in 50 years.
“The Super Bowl is going to be an incredible battle because we’ve got two really good teams,” he said, “and both teams want to win.”
But despite the importance of the upcoming event, said the bishop, “We’re in a much more important battle — for America, our soul.”
It’s a battle between the gospel of life and a culture of death, he said.
“It looks pretty tough for us in many ways,” he continued.
The culture of death is better funded, he said, and often has the media and celebrities on its side. He acknowledged that it can be somewhat discouraging at times.
But he compared the battle to the Scripture passage in which David, a shepherd boy, is chosen to fight Goliath.
“Saul’s first response is, ‘You’re too young, David.’ But David convinces him he can do it through the strength of God,” said Bishop Vincke.
David took five small stones and slew Goliath. Anything, added Bishop Vincke, is possible with God.
“There’s many voices for us,” he continued, “saying, ‘You’re too young, right? What difference can you make?’
“You can make all the difference.
“God needs you. He needs you in this world he wants to redeem. . . . He needs you more than ever.”
Moreover, he said, those advocating for life have a spiritual sword — that of the rosary.
“I keep a rosary in my pocket all the time,” he continued.
The bishop encouraged the students — when gathering with friends — to pray a rosary before their video games or movies. The prayer, he said, would bring them closer together.
The bishop also discussed the concept of heroes in today’s world, noting there are sports heroes and movie stars, but he once heard a priest talk about a different hero — a woman who was pressured by many to have an abortion but refused.
That woman, the bishop said, was the priest’s mother.
“That’s what we’re called to be — heroes in our world,” said the bishop. “Stick up for life from conception to natural death.”
Finally, Bishop Vincke said, he’s heard countless confessions in the course of his ministry. Sometimes, people have confessed to having abortions, pressuring their girlfriends or wives to have abortions and even participating in them as providers.
“Jesus wants to heal,” he said. But often the culture of death will tell people affected by abortion in some way that they don’t deserve healing.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
“[Healing is] what Jesus wants for our culture because there’s so much brokenness,” he said.
After Mass, those in attendance were joined by other groups as they marched to the state Capitol for a rally sponsored by Kansans for Life.
Just the day before, the Capitol had been the site of a joint committee on the “Value Them Both” constitutional amendment designed to reverse the April 2019 Kansas Supreme Court ruling which found a “fundamental right to abortion” in the state’s 1859 constitution.
The hearing was conducted by the House State and Federal Affairs Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
Later in the day, both committees voted to recommend the amendment for full debate in the respective chambers of the Kansas Legislature.