Editor Emeritus - Ed Wilkinson

Pro Vita Mass Returns, With Assist from K. of C.

Cathy Donohoe and Bridgeport Bishop Frank Caggiano
Cathy Donohoe, president of Bridge for Life, and Bridgeport Bishop Frank Caggiano were honored at the event. See more photos

The Diocese’s Pro Vita Mass has been revived and returned to St. James Cathedral-Basilica after an absence of about 10 years.

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio decided to schedule the liturgy at the urging of the Knights of Columbus, who came out in force to support the event on Sunday, Jan. 25, despite the inclement weather.

Bridgeport Bishop Frank Caggiano, the former Brooklyn Auxiliary Bishop, was honored with the first Father Michael McGivney Medal, named for the late founder of the Knights of Columbus whose cause for beatification is being studied by the Vatican.

The Diocese’s Pro Vita Award was renamed the Bishop Thomas Vose Daily Award to celebrate the pro-life efforts of Brooklyn’s bishop emeritus, who currently lives in retirement in Douglaston. That award was bestowed upon Cathy Donohoe, president of Bridge to Life, a Flushing-based group that encourages and assists young women who are pregnant; and to Michael Marino, a longtime member of the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, who maintain a prayerful presence at the sites where abortions are performed.

Father Michael Gelfant, grand knight and diocesan liaison to the Knights of Columbus, said that Bishop DiMarzio immediately said yes when he and Sir Knight Louis Pepe asked him to revive the Pro Vita tradition.

Mrs. Donohoe, a member of Holy Family parish, Flushing, said she was especially thrilled to be receiving an award named for Bishop Daily because of his longtime support for the unborn. A registered nurse, she has been active in the pro- life movement since her teenage years.

Mr. Marino, who is 87 and was unable to attend, has been a faithful volunteer with the Helpers for the past 25 years. For 23 of those years, he could be found praying outside the Brooklyn Ambulatory Surgery Center in Sunset Park. Two years ago, abortion was finally discontinued at the site so that sick people could be treated there. Marino, a retired butcher, and a member of St. Rosalia-Regina Pacis parish, Bensonhurst, now prays three days a week outside the Ambulatory Center at Kings County Hospital where late-term abortions are carried out.

In his homily, Bishop DiMarzio pointed out that “abortion has become part and parcel of the fabric of New York State.” He explained that 40 percent of pregnancies in New York end in abortion and that among African-Americans, the rate is more than 50 percent.

He also pointed out that while there are many pro-life issues, abortion is especially important because “without life, the rest of it doesn’t make any sense.”

He urged the 300 people in attendance to listen to and understand the Gospel of Life and to help change the culture of death in our society “so that life will be respected at the beginning all the way to the end of natural life.”

He said the Pro Vita Mass was an opportunity to honor those who already have taken steps that show their respect for life. He also said that the Mass will continue to be held each year.

Among the concelebrants were Auxiliary Bishop Raymond Chappetto; Msgr. John Strynkowski, who was celebrating his final diocesan function as rector of the cathedral; Father Peter Purpura, his successor as rector; and Father Brian McWeeney, state chaplain of the K. of C.

Knights of Columbus officers in attendance included Carmine Musumeci, the state deputy; Robert Fox, Kings County deputy; and Walter Fogelman, Queens County deputy.

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