By Maria Teresa Rueda, Port Chester, NY
Understanding the meaning of pro-Life was part of a process of my maturing in faith, which continues. It has been a path of light and darkness, falling and rising, but with the desire in my heart to be better and to help others. It includes following a God whom I have tried and still try to know, and whom I try to understand a little more each day.
I grew up in a Catholic home. Although we were poor, we were able to experience the richness of family life. We had a mother who, without much knowledge of God, taught us to live the Gospel, which I am better able to understand today. Daily Mass was a necessity, as was the Rosary, even though we were tired. With our mother, we participated in many spiritual devotions. In my family, I learned the virtues of respect for others, responsibility, honor, and honesty. I grew up watching my mother with her greatest virtue, which was service to others. What great richness of life the Lord allowed me to experience in my family!
As a young woman, I had a preference for Sunday Mass at 6:00 AM. I participated in spiritual programs in marginal areas of rural and urban environments. I was part of the Legion of Mary and also participated in the Cursillos in Christianity and retreats. I came to this country with expectations, hope, shadows and darkness, fears and insecurities, and being in great need of God. Soon after my arrival, I looked for a church, and so I came to one that was introduced to me as “Holy Rosary,” and later I came to know as “Our Lady of the Rosary” in Port Chester, NY. I joined the Charismatic Prayer Group, and my life revolved around the dynamic ministries of our parish: retreats, formation workshops, Bible studies, community meetings, service to others, my work, and understanding in greater depth the wonderful gift of a sacramental life. Until the moment came when the grace of God allowed me to have a personal encounter with my Lord!
The light that came into my life allowed me to experience his Love and discover the Giver of Life; to reflect on the value of human life from conception until natural death; to recognize Him as the Lord of Life; to give thanks for the wonderful gift of life we have received; to value the efforts of so many people and movements in favor of life, such as the perseverance of Rosemary Tirone every time I saw her at the monthly Life Chain; to understand that it is necessary to work for the sanctity of our life; to care for and value the lives of others.
There were two terrifying and painful testimonies where I saw and heard about the worst abuse of life through abortion, a Calvary in which millions of innocent babies are sacrificed. They motivated me to actively participate in the Ministry of Respect for Life of our parish, now called “St. John Bosco,” and to become a witness to babies saved from being aborted, thanks to the prayers and commitment of many. Now I can say, “I am pro-life!,” and, by God’s grace, my experiences help me understand why I am pro-life. Thanks be to God!