I am excited for our sixth annual walk for life and family festival. OneLife LA is set to take place this year on Saturday, Jan. 18.
At noon we will gather at the heart of downtown, La Placita Church on Olvera Street, and make the one-mile walk to Los Angeles State Historic Park, proclaiming the beauty and dignity of every human life from conception to natural death.
This year again, OneLife LA will feature a variety of inspiring musical artists and speakers highlighting our theme, “One Mission, One Family.”
Our keynote speaker, Cyntoia Brown-Long, is a sex-trafficking victim and passionate advocate for reforming our criminal justice system.
She was born into a broken home to a teenage alcoholic mother. She ran away as a teenager and eventually was forced into prostitution. At the age of 16, she was sent to jail for life for murdering a man who solicited her and whom she said later threatened to kill her.
Brown-Long turned her life around in prison, finding Jesus Christ, and after 15 years in prison her sentence was commuted by Tennessee’s governor. She walked free this past August.
Her story is sad and it reflects the reality of so many troubled girls and young women caught up in our prison system today, victims of addiction, abuse, and exploitation.
But what makes Brown-Long’s story so powerful and hopeful for me is that she testifies to the truth that God never abandons any soul.
God loves us no matter what. If we have done something wrong, he loves us even stronger, and he calls us to get even closer to him. There is no soul that he does not want to bring to his mercy, to his freedom.
This year, we are also making our first OneLife LA Service Award to honor those in our community who are making a difference in spreading this beautiful message of God’s deep love for every one of his children.
We are honoring a local woman, Jess Echeverry. Along with her husband, she runs SOFESA, a nearly 20-year-old outreach to homeless and poor families in Los Angeles.
Echeverry also has a powerful story, having spent years on the streets homeless, suffering addiction and abuse. And she, too, testifies to the power of Jesus to heal and save and transform our lives.
OneLife LA is not an event, it is a movement. It is a movement of love that sees in every person the beauty of God’s creation, a child of God.
This is why we walk to promote the dignity of the child in the womb and the child who needs foster care. We walk for the homeless and hungry, the prisoner and the sick, the immigrant and refugee, and for every person that our society or economy cannot find a place for.
We need to restore the dignity of the human person in our society and reawaken the awareness that the only purpose of any healthy society is to serve the human person and bring about the flourishing of every human life.
OneLife LA is about renewing the “human ecology” that in God connects us with one another and with all that he created. There is a sanctity to life and a dignity that can never be denied, no matter the stage of life or the condition of life.
And there is much that we need to do. Still children in our country are killed each day in the womb, and many of our neighbors do not have what they need to lead a dignified life.
The continued reality of abortion in our city and in our country is a true tragedy. In fact, we gather for OneLife LA to remember the sad day — January 22, 1973 — when the U.S. Supreme Court made abortion legal.
And while OneLife LA is a celebration, we remain mindful that we have a duty to protect innocent human life, which is threatened by abortion and euthanasia, and to build a society that cherishes life and supports mothers, families, the elderly, and those with disabilities.
This year again, as is our tradition, our OneLife LA celebration will be followed by our annual Requiem Mass for the Unborn, which will be held at 5 p.m. at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
This Mass is a beautiful witness to the lives that are lost each year in Los Angeles through abortion. It is also a source of hope and grace for women and men who have experienced in any way the pain of abortion.
Pray for me this week and I will pray for you. And please join me on Saturday, Jan. 18, and bring your family and friends.
And let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Fair Love, to be with us in this great movement for life.