Dcn. Kurt Peot distributes communion during the June 30 Mass. (Photos by Larry Hanson)

The Votive Mass for the Mercy of God, held Thursday, June 30, at St. Dominic Parish in Brookfield wasn’t a victory lap for pro-lifers, but rather a new starting line.

Held in commemoration of the United States Supreme Court’s June 24 ruling that struck down Roe v. Wade, the Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, who said, “It’s good to be with so many heroes and heroines of a cause that had holiness attached to it.”

The Mass drew about 300 people and was concelebrated by almost two dozen clergy members.

Archbishop Listecki and pro-lifers of his generation have spent much of their adult lives praying, hoping and fighting for the reversal of Roe, which legalized abortion in the United States.

“Many thought this day would never come,” he said. “It’s here.”

Throughout the past five decades, many, including Archbishop Listecki (who has a law degree), thought the error of Roe v. Wade was not moral, religious or political, but rather a legal mistake, making up a right to abortion where one didn’t exist. The June ruling on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization stated as much. Dobbs moved the decision on abortion back to the individual states.

“This is not a victory; it was a correction,” Archbishop Listecki said.

“Almost 50 years ago, a decision was rendered that challenged our thinking about the constitutional defense of human rights,” he continued. “The child in the womb would no longer be protected by the constitutional law. For many, it was unconscionable that the document that established an ability to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity should deny that life be protected. It was obvious not only minds but hearts needed to be reformed if this decision was to be corrected.”

He said the purpose of the Mass was to give thanks, to remember and to renew our witness, and continue to pray for an end to abortion.

“It’s important for us to come together and be around this altar, which is the greatest sign of love God gives to us,” Archbishop Listecki said. “Tonight, we gather together so that we may give thanks, we might remember and we might renew our commitment to life. We do so around the altar of sacrifice, where Jesus offered his unconditional love for us.”

In 1974, as a transitional deacon, Archbishop Listecki marched in downtown Chicago for life. He said it was the first march since Roe v. Wade. His observations that day were that it lacked energy and enthusiasm, there were very few clergy members in attendance, and those that were there were young and lacked influence.

Archbishop Listecki said a Salvation Army officer could sense his disappointment and offered the following words of encouragement: “Be proud, my young friend, you’re marching for Christ, and these people are his future.”

“I’ll never forget those words, and I have seen those people grow in their strength and witness,” Archbishop Listecki said. “In the ensuing years, marching in Washington, D.C., I would hear the testimony of the young and their commitment to defend life. They brought joy and energy to their witness and they were proud to proclaim their love for the unborn, their brothers and sisters.”

He praised the leaders who took it upon themselves to educate their communities on the horrors of abortion.

“They never saw this day, but they did what God commanded: ‘Love one another as I love you,’” Listecki said. “We give thanks for all of those from the past, the living and the dead, who have witnessed to the faith and held forth to the truth.”

In remembering the 63 million lives that have been lost to abortion, Archbishop Listecki also noted all of the events and organizations to help protect future generations of unborn, along with groups that help women in recovery after having an abortion they regret and those who walk with women after they give birth under trying situations.

The work isn’t done, and in many ways, it is just beginning. Archbishop Listecki said that going forward, members of the Church and the pro-life movement need to walk with women, encourage adoption and facilitate an increased awareness of life and the laws governing the child in the womb. He added that one of the next steps is to make abortion unthinkable.

“Now, our task is to take up the cross and continue the struggle,” Archbishop Listecki said.