June 16, 2017
In April, I was blessed to attend an amazing pro-life, pro-family gathering of the Catholic Hispanic community that spanned both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Having grown up in a Mexican Catholic family, I was particularly moved by the power of the Hispanic community to foster a culture of life and love—power which takes its strength from guarding and promoting the sanctity of marriage and family. The pro-life witness truly radiated through encounters with people who were never too busy to listen to each other's needs, serve one another, and remind each other of the great dignity of life.
Jointly billed as the fifth Hispanic Congress of the Americas for Respect Life and Evangelization, the second Binational Pro-Family, Pro-Life Congress sought to unite the local Catholic Hispanic community in defense of life, family, marriage, and religious freedom. Today more than ever, the Hispanic community has the great task of handing on our strong familial bonds. The world needs families who testify to the value of every human person by engaging in real human encounters that speak to the beautiful drama of family life. It was precisely this culture of encounter I experienced both in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, where over 4,000 attendees filled the concurrent events at the two convention centers.
We are created for community, starting with the gift of being born into a family, our first community. In Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis reminds us, "The life of every family is marked by all kinds of crises, yet these are also part of its dramatic beauty. Couples should be helped to realize that surmounting a crisis need not weaken their relationship; instead it can improve, settle, and mature the wine of their union" (AL 232). In other words, even crises can reveal to us the giftedness of every human being.
The Binational Pro-Life, Pro-Family conference encouraged us to build a culture of life—fostering family life, unity, and love across borders. During the conference, many of the volunteers in El Paso shared with me the great struggles they faced when leaving Juarez, the place that had given them their families, culture, and Catholic faith. It was precisely their yearning for unity across borders that inspired them to organize this conference.
Let us entrust ourselves to the intercession of women like Venerable Concepción (Conchita) Cabrera de Armida, a Mexican wife and mother of nine, who worked to build a culture of life that begins in the home. As she says in A Mother's Spiritual Diary, the Lord Himself told her one day, "You married in view of My great designs for your personal holiness, and to be an example for many souls who think that marriage is incompatible with holiness." It was precisely through her vocation that she drew closer to God and His divine will. Venerable Concepción Cabrera de Armida, pray for us.
Natalie Perez is an office assistant for the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. For more information on the bishops' pro-life activities, please visit www.usccb.org/prolife.