By SHEILA OJENDYK
SIMPSONVILLE — Bishop Robert J. Baker told St. Mary Magdalene parishioners that Sunday, Jan. 14, “was not ordinary time because of the gifts of the Knights of Columbus.” Council 10189 had presented the parish with a statue of Jesus and children of the world, and Bishop Baker was there to dedicate this symbol for human life. Jesuit Father Herbert K. Conner, pastor, concelebrated.
Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus from Assemblies 1073 and 2505 provided an honor guard.
Fittingly for the event, the first reading was Isaiah 62:1-5, “For Zion’s sake, I will not be silent.” Bishop Baker was anything but silent when speaking about the dangers to human life in our country. “Our government sanctions abortion and promotes them.…You and I are caught in this terrible web.”
The bishop spoke of the previous day’s Right to Life rally in Columbia and how people in the pro-life movement recognize and appreciate the contribution of the Catholic community.
Norma McCorvey, Jane Roe of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court case, spoke at the rally. Bishop Baker told of her 180-degree turn from being an advocate of abortion to being an outspoken proponent for life. He said, “She learned how much she was loved and cared for by those who were pro-life.” McCorvey converted to Catholicism several years ago.
The bishop said, “I have to wonder how our society has come to sanction the taking of life in the womb .… Today, hundreds of thousands of people simply turn their backs.”
He shared the true story of a couple in prenuptial counseling who had reached an impasse planning their wedding. The bride yearned for the lavish wedding she had dreamed of since she was a child, while the groom did not want to spend so much money for one day. The bride was willing to go into debt and postpone having children — all for the sake of an expensive wedding. The bishop said sadly, “We get caught up so much in other concerns that relationships get put on the back burner.”
Bishop Baker credited the Knights of Columbus for making a countercultural statement and defining priorities: “Families come first, children come first, and a child in the womb is a sacred gift from God .… It is heartwarming to see those kinds of people taking a stand in the cause of life.”
He thanked the Knights of Columbus “for being the vanguard for the cause of life.”
There were several newsworthy announcements before the final blessing. Bishop Baker praised the new capital campaign at St. Mary Magdalene as a sign of Catholic growth in the area. Father Conner announced that the parish had reached its Diocesan Development Fund goal for the first time ever, and then Bishop Baker announced that the diocese had likewise met its goal for the first time.
Immediately after Mass, Bishop Baker dedicated the statue in front of the church, saying “We have genuine reason to rejoice today .… Today we honor Christ and the children of the world … especially the life of the unborn.”