A new program at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Athol Springs promotes, safeguards and protects the sanctity of human life and hopes to bring about a change of heart for society.
"We believe that promoting the sanctity of life, not only in our pro-life ministry, but in religious persecution, is in tune with Pope John Paul II's encyclical," said Hollie Weiss, coordinator of the Sanctity of Life Ministry at St. Francis of Assisi Parish.
The parish has always had a pro-life ministry, but about five years ago the parish decided to turn what was once just a group that met monthly, into a weekly prayer group called Cenacles for Life. The group would meet to pray two rosaries which were offered with fasting. Each member of the group fasts one day a week on bread and water in the hope of ending the culture of death.
Those who cannot partake due to sickness or age, can offer up a day without their favorite thing, such as watching television or talking on the telephone.
"While we were happy with our Cenacles of Life program, we wanted to come up with a different name for our pro-life ministry," Weiss said. "Through the Holy Spirit, Father Ross Syracuse (pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish), who has been a guiding force in this program, came up with the name 'Sanctity of Life.'"
Sanctity of Life is now held every Friday morning, beginning with Mass at 7 a.m., followed by prayers and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament until 10 a.m.
"During this special time of prayer, we will pray for the greater awareness and appreciation for the sanctity of life from beginning of conception until natural death," said Father Syracuse.
While meeting on a weekly basis is a key part of the group's activities, the Sanctity of Life Ministry also reaches out in the community to inform people about the group and its mission to protect life.
"Father Ross generously lets us display information items about the sanctity of life during Mass, and we also encourage people to listen to Lighthouse CDs which discuss important issues facing Catholics today, including pro-life discussions," Weiss said. "Anyone is welcome to join and we believe that if people know their faith they are going to be pro life. Helping the poor and elderly, promoting life and praying for others are all ways you can help protect the sanctity of life."
For more information call 716-627-2710.