Father Matt Williams distributes Communion at the archdiocese's Respect Life Mass held at Our Lady of Good Voyage Shrine in Boston, Oct. 1. Pilot photo/Kelsey Cronin
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SOUTH BOSTON -- About 250 people of all ages gathered for the archdiocese's Respect Life Mass at Our Lady of Good Voyage Shrine on Oct. 1.
"You are a unique, unrepeatable, masterpiece," said Father Matt Williams, the celebrant of the Mass, in his homily. "And that is true about every person, born and unborn, in the world today."
The pews overflowed with congregants, with many lining the walls and sitting in the choir loft. The Respect Life Mass kicked off the U.S. Bishops' 2017-18 Respect Life Program. This year's theme is "Be Not Afraid."
In his homily, Father Williams addressed society's attack on the dignity of human life, and said that the only proper response is radical love.
"We live in very difficult times," he said. "There are many attacks against human life, from first moment of conception until natural death. The response is always love... and love... and love some more."
Father Williams quoted the Declaration of Independence, noting that the Founding Fathers understood the sacred, transcendent value of every human life when they said that all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.
He argued that the present culture of death is the result of society rejecting God's sovereignty and forgetting this truth that the Founding Fathers proclaimed.
"When there is no God, the dignity of every human life will be subject to review and certain people will be deemed to have a life not worth living," he said.
The remedy, Father Williams said, is to look to Jesus' example of supreme love on the cross at Calvary.
"The answer is to become fully who we are as Christians and to follow in the footsteps of the one who came not to be served but to serve."
Father Williams urged congregants to remember that their dignity is not derived from what they do, but rather, from who they are, as beloved children of God. Not only must we understand that about ourselves, he said, but we should interact with others in light of that truth as well.
"To see my neighbor is to see someone who is worthy of love because that is who God is, that is who Jesus is, and that is who we are."
In the face of physician assisted suicide and abortion, Father Williams emphasized that the only proper response is to "fearlessly stand up and bear witness to this dignity, and cry out against injustice."
Before the final blessing, Father Williams acknowledged the large number of youth present at the Mass, and thanked them for their witness to life.
Speaking to The Pilot after Mass, Abby Harrenstein, a senior at Sacred Heart School in Kingston, said she was glad she could show support for the pro-life cause.
"I never really get the chance to do this," she said, "But being able to actually be passionate about it is a really fun thing and I'm really happy that I get to be here."
Sister Emma Jean Middendorf, a German teacher at Sacred Heart, said, "We have to realize how wonderful life is and we have to protect life, especially the unborn children."
Following Mass, Father Williams led a group of congregants to the Boston Common for the Massachusetts March for Life which began at 1 p.m.