AGAWAM - The Massachusetts Citizens for Life (MCFL) 25th annual Mother's Day Dinner took place Thursday, May 6 at Chez Josef in Agawam. More than 700 people attended the event which began at 6 p.m. with a social hour.
Put on by the Pioneer Valley Region of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, the dinner is an annual expression of the community's deep concern about the tragedy of abortion.
According to this year's Mother's Day Dinner chairperson, Josephine R. Sears of Springfield, they try to put a positive spin on the dinner by celebrating motherhood.
"We come together to celebrate Mother's Day, to celebrate mothers and their children both born and unborn," said Sears. "We want to celebrate life, particularly the unborn life, and we pray that they will have a chance to live instead of having their life terminated."
Sears, of Springfield, is a graduate of the Boston College School of Nursing. A retired professor of nursing, she and her husband, Paul, are founding members of Birthright of Pioneer Valley, through which for 24 years, they have offered protection and support to young mothers.
"When we first started 25 years ago, we thought that we'd squash this movement, that we'd be able to overturn Roe vs. Wade and return to the days when we didn't have legal abortion. But we haven't done that at all so it's discouraging," added Sears. "The encouraging part is that we are still working at it, that we haven't given up and we can't give up. God is pro-life and is on our side."
Springfield Bishop Thomas L. Dupre was one of the guests and Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Springfield Joseph F. Maguire led the Benediction.
This year's Pro-Life Award recipient was Michael V. Goonan of Chicopee and the guest speaker was Father Frank Pavone, who has been the International Director of Priests for Life since 1993.
"It's always a delight for me to be with pro-life people from around the country. These are some of the most unselfish and dedicated people in the history of any movement because we are loving people who can't yet love us back," said Father Pavone.
A native of New York, Father Pavone has been active in the pro-life movement since 1976. Father Pavone has traveled the United States and world speaking about the sanctity of life and has helped other religious men and women do the same. He is also a producer of television and radio programs on life issues.
In 1997 Father Pavone was asked by the Vatican to help organize pro-life and pro-family activities internationally as an official of the Pontifical Council for the Family.
In his talk, he discussed abortion and how it is still the number one priority for people of God.
"It's not an old tragedy. The babies who were killed by abortion today never died before -- so today it's a brand new tragedy that demands a brand new response, " said Father Pavone. "There are many issues out there but this one is the deliberate legal killing of innocent children and it's an issue that can't be pushed off to the side."
"You have to have supply, people doing abortions, you have to have demand, people asking for them, and you have to have a license or law that says it's okay to have an abortion," said Father Pavone. "The Pro-Life Movement has been fighting in all three of these areas, but predominant attention has been given to reversing the license of it, changing the law."
Father Pavone went on to say that "we need to work on" the supply and demand.
"Supply is the biggest problem for the abortion providers because fewer and fewer doctors want to do the procedure and we can capitalize on that," he said. "Then comes the question of demand... We have a tremendous opportunity to reach those who might be at the abortion facility next week. If we speak up and reach out, we can tell them that there are alternatives to abortion and therefore save lives."
In previous years, the MCFL Mother's Day Dinner has included well-known speakers such as Cardinal Bernard Law and Congressman Henry Hyde and, according to Sears, the event has always been a success.
"I'm very gratified by the turnout and I'm grateful to the people of Springfield and the surrounding areas who have come to the dinner once again," added Sears. "It's a lot of work and our committee worked very hard, but the response was wonderful."