Friday, November 8, 2013

Spirit and Life: Our Lady, the Hope of New Jersey

In this week's Spirit & Life, Father West writes about a recent trip to his home state of New Jersey. As custodian of the Black Madonna on HLI's Ocean to Ocean Pilgrimage, he is meeting thousands of the faithful throughout the Northeast. What a joy to see the devotion to the Mother of Jesus from ethnic Polish and Eastern European Christians; and, of course, those from all backgrounds!

Currently I am in Quito, Ecuador meeting many amazing pro-life warriors, including our HLI Ecuador affiliate, friends from Lazos de Amor Mariano, His Excellency Monsignor Fausto Travez, Archbishop of Quito, and our dear friend Father Juan Carlos Chavez. It has been an honor to meet and to celebrate the Mass with so many religious and lay people so passionate about life.

I have two special prayer requests to ask of you: please keep me and our director of research Brian Clowes in your prayers as we travel to Malaysia for HLI's ASPAC conference. Most importantly, please pray for our brothers and sisters in the Philippines who were hit with one of the largest storms ever recorded. Initial reports are that the storm was moving so fast that its damage was limited, but the extent of the damage remains to be seen. May the Lord of Life and His Blessed Mother spare them from the worst this storm can do.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr Boquet signature
Father Shenan J. Boquet
President, Human Life International

#O2OPilgrimage: Our Lady, the Hope of New Jersey

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Benjamin Franklin called New Jersey “a barrel tapped at both ends” since it is sandwiched between two large cities: New York in the northeast and Philadelphia in the southwest. It is the most densely populated state in the union with 1,205 inhabitants per square mile, and the third wealthiest state with a median household income of $67,458.
My home state of New Jersey is in need of prayer. The Culture of Death is strongly rooted here. In their ranking of the most pro-life states, Americans United for Life ranks New Jersey 46 out of 50.  In September, a lower court judge ruled that same-sex marriages must begin in New Jersey. Governor Chris Christie has decided not to appeal.
In 2004, the State Supreme Court struck down a New Jersey law requiring that at least one parent be notified before a minor child has an abortion. Though a 12 year old girl would need permission to have her ears pieced in New Jersey, a school counselor or any another adult could take a young girl to have potentially dangerous and life-altering surgery without either parent even knowing about it.
New Jersey is the home of the notorious late-term abortionist, Steven Brigham. Brigham lost his license in Pennsylvania and New York because he maimed several women, but he retains his license in New Jersey. Several women have also died in his abortion mills.
Numerous pharmaceutical companies that manufacture and market abortion-related products or abortifacient drugs are based in New Jersey. Hoechst Celanese, the manufacturer of the abortion pill RU-486, is headquartered in Somerville. Hoechst Celanese is a subsidiary of the German chemical company Hoechst A.G., whose parent company (I.G. Farben) was implicated in the Holocaust.
MedPointe, the manufacturer of Trojan condoms, has a facility in Franklin Township. The effectiveness of condoms is grossly overstated by their makers. For example, the chance of just one failure after ten uses of condoms is 52%. Johnson & Johnson has its headquarters in New Brunswick, NJ. They market abortifacient drugs and devices through their Ortho Division such as Lippes Loop IUD, Modicon, Micronor, Ortho-Cept, and Ortho-Novum. Warner Lambert, which markets the abortifacient drugs Loestrin and Norlestrin, is headquartered in Morris Plains. Gynetics, the maker of Preven, has its headquarters in Belle Mead. Preven is called “emergency contraception,” but it acts to prevent the implantation of the embryonic baby in the mother’s uterus. Planned Parenthood admitted to 385 “serious complications” from abortion drugs from 2009 to 2010.
My first stop in New Jersey was Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Linwood, near Atlantic City, on Friday, September 20. Our Lady of Sorrows has perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and the pastor, Fr. Paul Harte, was honored to receive the icon. I met a Polish family from Linwood who had previously traveled to Smyrna, Delaware to see the icon, and were very happy to see her again closer to home. That night three of us brought the Blessed Mother to an abortion mill in Absecon, NJ and prayed for the conversion of the abortionist who runs the facility.
O2OJerseyEucharistic Adoration at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Linwood, NJ
On September 28 we visited St. Peter and St. Paul Russian Orthodox Church in South River, which is in Central New Jersey. Fr. David Garretson could not have been more welcoming. I was struck by the beauty of the Church, especially the interior, and the reverence of the Masses. The next day I returned to the southern part of Jersey near Philadelphia and gave a presentation at all the Sunday Masses at St. Peter Roman Catholic Church in Merchantville. I had met the pastor, Fr. Anthony Manuppella, a few years ago and knew he would welcome the icon to his parish, and he did. Fr. Manuppella spoke very eloquently about Our Lady and the defense of human life in his homily.
On Monday September 30, I visited St. Michael the Archangel Church in Lyndhurst in my home Archdiocese of Newark, which is closer to New York City. The pastor, Fr. Stanley Kostrzomb, is an old friend. I offered the 12:00 Noon Mass, after which we prayed the Rosary and the chaplet of Divine Mercy. There is a large Polish community in Lyndhurst and Fr. Piotr Koziotkiewiccz offered Mass in Polish on Monday evening. Other stops in New Jersey included Our Lady of the Lake Church in Sparta, Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Hewitt, St. Joseph’s Church in West Milford, Holy Rosary in Passaic, St. Anthony of Padua Church in West Orange, St. Theresa of the Child Jesus Church in Linden, St. Joseph’s Church in Hackensack, Holy Apostles Eastern Orthodox Church in Saddle Brook, and my home parish of St. Thomas More in Fairfield. There was more of a demand for Our Lady in New Jersey than time on my schedule. Many of the Polish people, and at least one person of Russian descent, followed Our Lady around from church to church!
My friend and talented pro-life lawyer Richard Collier, Jr., who founded the Legal Center for the Defense of Life, thinks that because of its anti-life laws and mentality New Jersey is a hopeless case. But despite the power of the Culture of Death in New Jersey, I have hope that a Culture of Life can be built here. A pro-abortion activist once lamented the large number of pro-life activists in New Jersey.  The Catholic and Orthodox communities are sleeping giants that if awakened could bring great change.
Sr. Lucia dos Santos, to whom Our Lady appeared at Fatima, said the following about the power of the Rosary when speaking to a priest:

Look, Father, the Most Holy Virgin in these last times in which we live has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Holy Rosary. She has given this efficacy to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all, spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families, of the families of the world, or of the religious communities, or even of the life of peoples and nations, that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.  With the Holy Rosary, we will save ourselves. We will sanctify ourselves. We will console Our Lord and obtain the salvation of many souls.

What seems impossible to us can be accomplished by the power of God.  Our Lady wants us to have confidence in her intercession.  If we do our part and cooperate with God’s will, by His power and through the intercession of Our Lady we can conquer the culture of death and build a culture of life!
Find more information about the Ocean to Ocean campaign and view the North America pilgrimage schedule here.
Father Peter West is the Vice President for Missions at Human Life International. In 2011, Father West not only joined HLI, but he also celebrated both his 20th anniversary as a priest, and 25 years of defending the right to life of the most vulnerable members of society. He came to HLI after 13 years with Priests for Life, where he served as Associate Director.
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