Fr. Edward McGovern was the celebrant at 2012's Mass for the Unborn in Toronto's St. Michael's Cathedral.. Photo by Luc Rinaldi

Tebow, Fr. Colleton recalled in a year of life

  • January 3, 2012

TORONTO - Three days after Christmas, the altar and pulpit of St. Michael's Cathedral were still adorned with wreaths and festive decorations. Parishioners and visitors filled the pews for a Wednesday evening Mass, only two blocks from the mid-Boxing Week rush at the Toronto Eaton Centre and other downtown retailers.

But the congregation wasn't gathered to celebrate the birth of Jesus — the people were there to pray for those yet to be born.

About 250 pro-lifers attended the archdiocese of Toronto's Mass for the Unborn on Dec. 28.  The solemn vigil was both a prayer of hope for the expected and a prayer of remembrance for the victims of abortion, who, as celebrant Fr. Edward McGovern said, make their plight known "not by speaking, but by dying."

In his homily, McGovern shared memorable pro-life stories in end-of-year review fashion. To begin, he recalled the story of a statue of Mary as a pregnant young woman enshrined at St. Dunstan's Basilica in Charlottetown, P.E.I.

"Mary experienced many hardships in life," said McGovern, echoing the words of Charlottetown Bishop Richard Grecco. "She can understand the distress of today's mothers in difficult circumstances.

"She was filled with joy over the child she was carrying. She always had hope because she clung to the promises of God."

Mary wasn't the only inspiration McGovern mentioned in his reflection.

Tim Tebow, the 23-year-old quarterback for the Denver Broncos, is a firm pro-lifer whose own story drove his convictions. When carrying him, Tebow's mother had serious life-threatening complications due to the pregnancy. Doctors told her the only way to save her own life was to have an abortion. But as a devout Christian family, the Tebows decided against abortion and Tim was delivered healthily — a "miracle baby" in the words of the doctors.

"This family is remarkable," said McGovern. "The way they live out their pro-life convictions is an inspiration."

And while it was certainly the year of Tebow in the NFL, 2011 also marked the end of different pro-lifer's journey. Fr. Ted Colleton, a "pro-life giant," died in April at the age of 97, after fighting for the pro-life cause in Canada for 35 years. His staunch defence of life — from conception to natural death — was evident in his homilies and the columns he wrote for The Interim newspaper.

The pro-life stories that McGovern told in his homily were only a few of many throughout the year. In May, 15,000 rallied at Parliament Hill in Ottawa as part of the 2011 March for Life. Later that month, about a dozen pro-lifers departed from Vancouver on the Crossroads Pro-Life Walk, a cross-country trek for life. And in October, hundreds gathered at Queen's Park for the Defund Abortion Rally to demand an end to taxpayer-funded abortions.

But in Canada, a fetus is still not recognized as a human person. There are no restrictions on legal abortions, and since 1969, when abortion was decriminalized, more than three million babies have been aborted.

As McGovern concluded the Mass, he reminded the congregation that "the most important thing that (you) can do for the unborn is pray."

"It's wonderful to see so many here this evening," he said. "Let us continue to pray for the unborn, for their mothers, for their fathers, and let us continue to do work in pro-life."

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