By Natalie Perez
June 16, 2017
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.