Father, Shepherd, Teacher—Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki Leads Vigil for Life

This article was authored by League staffer Julie McCreevy.

Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of the Archdiocese of Chicago joined three hundred volunteer Chicago Helpers of God’s Precious Infants on Saturday, April 30 to lead the Helpers thirteenth Vigil for Life. Since 1998, Bishop Paprocki, Cardinal George and Bishops Raymond Goedert, Jerome Listecki (now bishop of the Diocese of LaCrosse, WI), John Manz and the late Edwin Conway have all participated in Helpers of God’s Precious Infants Vigils for Life, leading the faithful in prayerful procession to various abortion centers within the Chicago Archdiocese.

Father, Shepherd and Teacher of All

The April 30 Vigil for Life began at St. John Berchmans Church on Logan Boulevard in Chicago with a Mass offered by Bishop Paprocki. During his homily, His Excellency wore his mitre and held his crosier, a privilege reserved to him as Bishop and symbolizing his authority as a successor of the apostles and as a father, shepherd and teacher. His Excellency mentioned the importance of the encyclical Humanae Vitae, written by Pope Paul VI, which stated anew for the modern age the Church’s timeless teaching on the sacrament of marriage, the gift of children and the destructive nature of contraception for the family and society as a whole.

Bishop Paprocki Leads Vigil

Bishop Paprocki leads the Vigil for Life at AWMC, April 30
[Photo by Julie McCreevy]

Bishop Paprocki also shared some remarks he gave at a Mass that he celebrated for the repose of the soul of Pope John Paul II at the Basilica of St. Hyacinth on April 3, the day after our Holy Father passed away. Governor Rod Blagojevich was in attendance at this “standing room only” Mass in a basilica that can seat two thousand.

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Courageous Bishop Confronts Governor

The governor had very recently signed an order requiring pharmacists in the state of Illinois to fill prescriptions for all contraceptives, including the so-called “morning-after pill,” regardless of their objections of conscience or faith. Before offering his final dismissal at the April 2 Mass, Bishop Paprocki charitably but firmly confronted Governor Blagojevich. He said that as an attorney himself, he could attest that the governor’s order did not respect laws already on the books pertaining to freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. He then called on the governor to rescind the order in honor of the life and teachings of Pope John Paul II. Bishop Paprocki’s account of his confrontation with Blagojevich drew an enthusiastic round of applause from the Vigil for Life congregation at St. John Berchmans.

No Abortions Performed during Vigil

At the conclusion of Mass, the faithful, led by Bishop Paprocki, set out to pray for the lives of the unborn, processing five blocks from St. John Berchmans to American Women’s Medical Center abortion clinic. Outside the clinic the group prayed fifteen decades of the Rosary, singing hymns after each decade appropriate to the mystery which had just been prayed.

As the vigil continued, it was remarkable that no abortion-bound mothers entered. This is unusual for a Saturday morning, when forty to fifty abortion appointments are typically scheduled. Possibly the appointments were diverted to an abortion center in suburban Des Plaines owned by the same abortionist, but sometimes a seemingly simple change in plans becomes an opening for grace, inspiring the abortion-bound mother to rethink the whole situation and choose life. Hopefully the outpouring of prayer aided many to do so.

After the vigil outside of American Women’s Medical Center concluded, the faithful continued in prayer as they processed back to St. John Berchmans. Bishop Paprocki bestowed a final blessing on the crowd, and graciously remained to greet the many faithful who wished to thank him for his courageous witness.

Bishop Paprocki can be assured that the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants will support him, pray for him and bless him—our father, teacher and shepherd.

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