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QUINCY -- The Daughters of Mary of Nazareth and the men's prayer group of Sacred Heart Parish, Quincy, held a Night 4 Life, an evening of prayer, testimonies, and music, celebrating the gift of life at Veterans Memorial Stadium on June 19.
The Daughters passed out rosaries, prayer pamphlets, and glow-in-the-dark stars as people entered the stadium. Various pro-life organizations set up tables along the path to the bleachers, offering information about their resources and services.
Guests included Bishop John Dooher and Rev. Eugene Rivers. Many mothers who benefited from Friends of the Unborn, a local maternity shelter, came with their babies.
Delmore Worship provided music for the event, including a rendition of the song "Unplanned" from the 2019 film of the same title.
Mother Olga Yaqob, superior of the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth, emceed the event, introducing the speakers and sharing brief stories from her experience ministering to pregnant and post-abortive mothers.
Father Brian Flatley, episcopal vicar for the South Region, led the opening prayer. Father Matthew Williams, pastor of Quincy Catholic Collaborative of St. John the Baptist and St. Joseph, assisted by Father Michael Zimmerman, parochial vicar of St. Agnes Parish in Arlington, exposed the Blessed Sacrament for adoration. It remained on the altar for the remainder of the event.
There was also a recitation of the joyful mysteries of the rosary, which commemorate the events of the Virgin Mary's pregnancy and Christ's infancy. Children announced each mystery and a special intention for each decade.
The evening's first keynote speaker, Cathy "Ki" Morrissey, talked about her experience as a birthmother. When she was in college, she faced an unplanned pregnancy and was pressured by her boyfriend and her campus clinic to get an abortion. She instead chose to give birth and place her son for adoption through Catholic Charities.
"It wasn't on my time, but it was on God's time," she said.
Morrissey eventually married and had two more children. She was reunited with her firstborn, Charlie, when he was 19.
"He was like Lazarus, because to me, he had died," Morrissey said.
Morrissey talked about the shame surrounding unwed mothers that leads them to consider abortion. She said the culture of death has convinced people "that if you're not ready to have and raise a child, it is more brave and compassionate to abort it than to place it for adoption."
"My hope is to change the image of the birth mother. We are not the cold, uncaring women this culture portrays us as. Far from it. The choice shows the sacrificial love a mother has for her child," Morrissey said.
After Morrissey shared her testimony, the attendees applauded as her son, Charlie, joined her on the field with his wife and five-month-old daughter.
The second keynote speaker of the event was Jason Scott Jones, a pro-life activist, author, and film producer.
Jones shared the personal, painful story of how he got involved in the pro-life movement. When his high school girlfriend got pregnant, he dropped out of school and joined an army training program. They planned to tell their parents about the pregnancy when he returned. But while he was away, his girlfriend's father found out and took her to a doctor friend for an abortion. Hearing his girlfriend cry over the phone, Jones vowed to end abortion for the sake of their daughter.
Jones said he remained an atheist for the first 13 years he spent in the pro-life movement. He was annoyed when a mentor advised him to pray. In anger, he prayed that God would send people who were wealthy, famous, and powerful to fight abortion.
"If I'm to map my career from the moment of that prayer until today, the only explanation is that God answers the prayers of atheists," Jones said.
He made the short film "Crescendo" as a "monument" to the dignity of the unborn child. One of the film's producers was Pattie Mallette, mother of singer Justin Bieber. The company that funded the film was owned by Carlos Slim, the richest person in the world at the time.
Jones was invited to screen "Crescendo" for the United Nations. As the credits rolled and he saw the names of the people who had helped to make the film, he realized God had answered his prayer for wealthy, famous, and powerful people.
"So many times today we'll hear Christians say 'We need to separate our pro-life witness from our faith,'" Jones said. He admitted that he himself had said so when he was an atheist in the pro-life movement.
But, he said, "the Christian vision of the human person -- that we are made in the image and likeness of God and that is the source of our incomparable dignity, beauty and worth -- is the only anthropology that supports our position."
Jones added, "No one is ever offended when you tell them that they're made in the image of God and they are the most beautiful created thing in the cosmos. No one ever has been offended by that."
Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley offered remarks and gave the benediction at the end of the Night 4 Life.
He said that when the idea for the event first came about, they had no idea the legislature would be discussing the House and Senate bills known collectively as the ROE Act. A hearing had been held on June 17 regarding the two bills, which would significantly expand abortion access in Massachusetts.
"The two great stains on our country are slavery and abortion. And they have been allowed because of an ethical and a moral blindness of people that don't see how evil this is," Cardinal O'Malley said.
Thomas Koch, the mayor of Quincy and a member of the Sacred Heart Parish men's prayer group, also delivered remarks. A Night 4 Life was largely the result of an idea that came to him in prayer.
"We're all challenged to bring that gospel of life into our workplace, into our home, into those social gatherings," Mayor Koch said.
Before Delmore Worship played the final song for the evening, Mother Olga addressed the attendees one more time, and explained why the Daughters had passed out plastic glow-in-the-dark stars as people arrived.
"The reason we chose these stars (is) because every gift of life is like a star that brings light into this world. So we want to send you back home to your ministries, to your families, to your parishes, to bring this star of life with you," Mother Olga said.