By Berta Mexidor
TUPELO – Every September since 2008, the community of St. James Tupelo has gathered to pay respects to the souls of aborted babies, and to pray for the end of the abortion and mercy for the mothers. This year, on Sept. 12 at St. James parish, the National Day of Remembrance for the Unborn, began with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz and Father Tim Murphy.
Father Tim said this day is “to acknowledge all the unborn children whose lives were ended by abortion and to provide the opportunity to those in need the embrace of Christ for healing and forgiveness.”
After the annual Mass, it has become a tradition to walk to the northwest side of the parish’s campus to view the Memorial for the Unborn, donated by the Robert Reitmeier Knights of Columbus Council #8848 in May of 2008.
The overcast, drizzly day did not stop the group of more 125 people from spending “some quiet private time [in] prayer,” and to share a moment of reflection at the memorial site, said Father Tim.
This moment of remembrance is prepared each year by the committee for the memorial Mass, consisting of Father Tim Murphy; Michelle Harkins, director of parish life; David Friloux, chair for pro-life with the Knights of Columbus Council #8848; Erin Bristow, director of youth choir and music minister; and Tanya Britton, St. James parishioner.
During the vigil Mass, Britton, past president and board member of Pro-Life Mississippi, delivered a speech on why this day is so important.
“This is a day to remind us that the fight continues to save lives,” said Britton. “And to invite people to come and pray together at our Memorial to the Unborn, which is, as far as I know, the only permanent memorial in our state.”
Britton told Mississippi Catholic that she began her work for the defense of the unborn in July of 1987 after she was “delivered” from a four-year battle with drug addiction due to her personal experience with abortion.
“I spent three years praying the Miserere, for no other prayer seemed to quell my great sadness and suffering,” said Britton. “During this time my confessor and spiritual director, Father Richard Somers, spent countless hours binding my wounds and I thought my wounds were mortal. I found healing and peace in the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. St. Augustine’s Confessions was a constant companion.”
In 1990, Britton was attending Mass at St. Richard Jackson and was invited to pray the Rosary at the abortion facility, at the time, which was one of 10 in the state. “So, began my pro-life missionary work,” stated Britton.
“The Lord has led me for 30 years, to witness for life from Mississippi to Montana, Arkansas to Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, D.C., Rhode Island, Cairo, and Rome.”
Britton invites all to pray at the Memorial to the Unborn at St. James Tupelo.
”There are mass gravesites throughout the country where babies, who have been rescued from dumpsters or storage containers, have given a decent burial. We believe [that] Corporal works do Mercy and if we can’t bury these babies, we can at least remember them.”