Pro-life activist Fr. Shenan Boquet told a Whitefish Bay audience Sept. 19 that, in a “culture that has come to embrace death, our fight is to raise the consciousness that all life is precious.”p.3Boquet04Fr. Shenan Boquet, center, a priest of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, leads a group in prayer near the entrance to Affiliated Medical Services in Milwaukee on Thursday, Sept. 20. From left are an unidentified man, Dominic Nosacek, his father Gary Nosacek, Fr. Boquet, Suzanne Nelson and Reeny Mulcahey. (Catholic Herald photo by Ernie Mastrioianni)

A priest of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, La., Fr. Boquet, 46, is president of Human Life International (HLI), which describes itself as “the largest international pro-life organization in the world.”

He delivered a half-hour presentation, “The Global Pro-Life Mission: Victories and Challenges,” in the Dominican High School auditorium after presiding at an all-school Mass. Although the approximately 300 Domincan students formed the majority of the audience, the Mass and presentation were open to members of neighboring parishes.

Fr. Boquet and his HLI predecessors – including the late Benedictine Fr. Paul Marx, who founded the organization in 1981 – have taken the pro-life message around the globe, traveling literally millions of miles to do so, the Louisiana priest told the group.

The priest urged students “to become involved” in pro-life activities – whether through their churches or other institutions, as “prayer warriors” or in other capacities. He warned that getting involved would “take some courage,” noting that his own pro-life efforts have not escaped ridicule.

“Remember,” Fr. Boquet said, “we have the Lord on our side.”

The Lord, he added, calls his people to chastity, not to selfishness and especially not “to happiness built on the death of others.” Martin Luther King Jr. defined the culture of death as rejection of God’s law; “we have to follow the natural law in order to follow the culture of life,” according to Fr. Boquet.

“Do I love God more than I love myself, more than I love my pleasures?” the HLI leader asked rhetorically.

With the aid of slides, Fr. Boquet offered “a quick look at the world” – a world whose problems, he contended, have been caused by “the indifference and the apathy of this generation.”p.3BBoquet06Fr. Shenan Boquet, president of Human Life International, greets Suzanne Nelson of Whitefish Bay and others (not pictured) who he led in in prayer near the entrance to Affiliated Medical Services in Milwaukee on Thursday, Sept. 20. (Catholic Herald photo by Ernie Mastroianni)

On the positive side, “the constriction of the culture of death is growing,” he said – in Malta, Poland, Ireland, the Philippines, Africa. Last year, he noted, in the face of a serious population decrease, Hungarians ratified a constitution “that now protects life.” Conversely, there is a “one-child policy” in China, a relatively new pro-euthanasia law in Germany and unwritten rules in some places that pregnant women are not to be employed, Fr. Boquet said.

Some 25 billion U.S. dollars, he said, have been spent promoting abortion, contraception and euthanasia throughout the world.

In an address that referenced Mother Teresa and Cardinal Francis George, as well as Dr. King, Fr. Boquet identified “reproductive rights” as a euphemism for “abortion, contraception, sterilization and euthanasia.” He called abortion “the fruit of contraception,” and observed that abortion clinics tend to be located in the “poorest neighborhoods” and criticized sex education for “teaching people that abortion is fine, that promiscuity is fine.”

Near the end of his presentation, Fr. Boquet inquired, “If I can take the life of an innocent child, then why can’t I take your life? Who determines who lives and dies – and who gives them the right to do that?

In his homily during Mass, Fr. Boquet paved the way for the pro-life presentation he made immediately following the liturgy.

“Today,” the priest insisted, “the world has rejected God to embrace itself.” And yet, he continued, “the truth of 2,000 years ago is the truth right now.”

Fr. Boquet reminded the DHS worshipers of Jesus’ words “‘Deny your very self if you want to live.’”

He explained, “It’s up to us to choose life, not death. We have to say yes to God and no to all those things that are not of God. It all begins with a choice.”

Fr. Boquet added that God is the source of incomparable pleasure – “the ultimate joy, the ultimate happiness, the ultimate love, the ultimate treasure.”

He posed the question, “How have we loved God, the supreme treasure?”

The HLI priest’s appearance at Dominican kicked off a two-day area visit. Among Fr. Boquet’s other activities were speeches at Gesu and St. Margaret Mary parishes, including a Mass with prayers for healing at St. Margaret Mary, a prayer vigil outside an East Side abortion clinic, and a blessing of the North Farwell Avenue Women’s Care Center, which offers counseling and other services to pregnant women.