MCFL Walk held on 'holy ground'

The National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro hosted The Walk to Aid Mothers and Children, a fundraiser sponsored by the Massachusetts Citizens for Life (MCFL). The walk, which usually takes place in downtown Boston, took place April 28. Pilot photo/Christine Williams

ATTLEBORO -- For the first time, participants in the Massachusetts Citizens for Life (MCFL) Walk to Aid Mothers and Children marched on hallowed ground. The walk, held annually for nearly three decades and always in downtown Boston, took place at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro on April 28.

On a warm, sunny Sunday hundreds of pro-lifers gathered to raise money for unborn children and mothers facing crisis pregnancies. A crisp breeze greeted participants as they circled the Rosary Pond, which features a giant rosary and plaques for each mystery. The path wound through a wooded area and past religious statues and the Stations of the Cross. The walk ended at the foot of the shrine's Monument to the Unborn, dedicated by the Knights of Columbus in 2010.

Organizers made the move to Attleboro because they wanted the event to be more family-friendly. There was face painting, ice cream and live music. Many participants remarked that the new site provided a prayerful, peaceful experience.

Jesse Theasilva, a Catholic from Fall River, prayed the rosary as she walked. She said that God will change hearts when more people dedicate rosaries to the unborn. "I strongly believe that if we want our country to change, it's through prayer."

Father Mike McNamara, parochial vicar at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Hanson, called the shrine "holy ground," saying, "You can't leave without feeling blessed."

He commended MCFL for trying a new venue, saying, "Perhaps the Holy Spirit is leading us in a new way."

Some participants expressed disappointment that the location did not allow for the chance to witness in the city, but organizers stressed that the walk is not meant to be a local March for Life. Instead, its purpose is to raise money for organizations that support unborn children and their mothers. This year, there were 43 beneficiaries.

In previous years the MCFL walk wound from Boston Common through the streets of the city. Held in the fall each year, organizers moved it to the spring to set the event apart from other pro-life activities that happen in October. No walk took place in 2012.

With the change in date came the idea to find a new venue. Originally, organizers announced Castle Island in South Boston, but when it came time to confirm their reservation, park officials said the walk was too large for the location. That left MCFL organizers with about three weeks to find a new venue.

Anne Fox, president of MCFL, said that the last-minute change led to a smaller crowd than usual, but for the first year at a new location, the event went well.

"I think people had a really good time," she said. The new site had advantages over the old. Participants could walk at their own pace without worrying about traffic and had the freedom to stop and rest or visit the shrine's many attractions.

She praised the staff at the shrine, saying that not only were they "very gracious" but they are also dedicated to the pro-life movement.

Fox added she was relieved that the event did not take place in Boston less than two weeks after the marathon bombing, which took place April 15. In 2001, the walk was held three weeks after Sept. 11, and virtually no children came.

Joan Bailey -- director of Friends of the Unborn, a home for young pregnant women in Quincy -- said that the Boston Marathon bombing showed how "precious and fragile life is."

Alison Nardone, of Nashua, N.H., brought her five young children along. Most had their faces painted before the walk -- the two eldest boys with Spiderman masks. She said she brought them to show them "how important all life is." The lives of the unborn, the sick, the elderly and those with disabilities need protection, she said.

This year's MCFL walk baby -- Julia Kiley, 2, of Dedham -- brought with her an important aspect of the pro-life debate. She has Down syndrome, and studies show that when parents receive the prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, 90 percent of them choose to abort that child.

Julia's mom, Katie Kiley, said she hopes Julia's participation will "bring awareness to the staggering statistics."

Julia's older sister, Anna, 4, said that it was "cool" that her sister was the walk baby. "Julia's cute," she added. But her favorite part of the day's festivities? Her vanilla ice cream. "My cone was delicious," she said with a grin.

Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

Vatican publishes list of synod participants, including papal nominees

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To the list of members of the Synod of Bishops elected by national bishops' conferences, Pope Francis added cardinals from 14 countries, ...

Addicts and their loved ones talk about life with opioid addiction

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- It was a Saturday night, and Billy was eating pizza and watching a sporting event in the basement bedroom of his residence, a ...

Signers of letter hope Vatican meeting will bring needed steps on crisis

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Signers of an open letter from Catholic women to Pope Francis urging "truth" and "transparency" on the growing sex abuse crisis expressed ...

Community 'overwhelmed and shell-shocked' after gas explosions, says pastor

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Down to earth: Vatican brings together world's meteorite curators

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- Rocks, mineral debris and even dust from space are kept in special collections, museums and laboratories all over the ...

Algerian martyrs to be beatified in Algeria Dec. 8

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The beatification of 19 martyrs of Algeria, including the seven Trappist monks of Tibhirine, will be celebrated Dec. 8 in Oran, ...

'Anything but a picnic' - Cardinal Dolan on the Church's summer of scandal

New York City, N.Y., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Cardinal Timothy Dolan has spoken about how the extended sexual abuse scandals facing the Church have taken a ...

Restoring and reimagining: Transformation at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross

BOSTON -- Considered by many to be the heart of the Archdiocese of Boston, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross is the largest Catholic church in New England, ...

Archdiocese says Cardinal O'Malley will personally review all abuse letters

BRAINTREE (CAN) -- The Archdiocese of Boston has announced changes to the way it will process and respond to letters addressed to Cardinal Séan P. ...

CM receives $2.5M grant from Yawkey Foundations

West Roxbury -- Catholic Memorial, a college-preparatory school for boys in grades 7 to 12, announced Sept. 5 that they have received a $2.5 million grant ...

Father Christian Ohazulume removed from ministry

BRAINTREE -- The Archdiocese announced on Sept. 11 that it had removed a priest from ministry after receiving an allegation that he sexually abused a ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

This week I am in transit to Rome in anticipation of the next meeting of the C9 Council of Cardinals. So, I have asked Vivian Soper to share some reflections ...

Kavanaugh's birth control comments spur controversy -- What did he say?

Washington D.C. (CNA) -- Opponents of Judge Brett Kavanaugh have suggested that a reference to birth control pills as "abortion-inducing drugs" during ...

Missouri to enforce abortion regulations in wake of appeals court ruling

Jefferson City, Mo. (CNA) -- Missouri's health department announced Monday that it will immediately being enforcing state laws regulating abortion clinics ...

Book tells about behind-the-scenes search for St. Peter's bones

HOUSTON (CNS) -- Two Houston men shared a journey through centuries of history and a decades-long archaeological dig under the Vatican to unveil a story ...

Update way priests are chosen, accompanied, pope tells new bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The best way to help the Catholic Church, Pope Francis told new bishops, is not by pointing fingers and creating scapegoats, but ...

Vatican confirms ongoing Sistine Chapel Choir finance inquiry

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican confirmed an ongoing investigation into financial irregularities involving the directors of the Sistine Chapel Choir. ...

After meeting pope, cardinal says he's hopeful about addressing crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston struck a determinedly hopeful tone after his long-awaited meeting with Pope Francis ...

DA clears Indiana bishop of misconduct, says claim has harmed prelate

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (CNS) -- The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend welcomed findings by a Pennsylvania district attorney that cleared Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades ...

Cardinal DiNardo calls meeting with pope lengthy, fruitful

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Cardinal Daniel DiNardo has called a Sept. 13 meeting between Pope Francis and leaders from the Church in United ...

What do Church abuse policies mean by 'vulnerable adult?'

Denver, Colo., Sep 12, 2018 CNA.- A Vatican summit this February will gather the presidents of bishops’ conferences from around the world. While ...

'Elitist, clericalist' church allows abuse to thrive, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Sexual and physical abuse by priests and religious and the scandal of its cover-up by church authorities thrive in countries where ...

Cardinal Wuerl to ask pope to accept his resignation

Washington D.C., Sep 12, 2018 CNA.- An archdiocesan spokesman has confirmed that Cardinal Donald Wuerl will soon ask Pope Francis to accept his resignation ...

Pope accepts resignation of West Virginia bishop as inquiry into abuse claims launched

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Pope Francis Thursday accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield from the pastoral government ...