Ellicott City parishioner honored at ‘Life Is Beautiful’ Mass

Johanna Coughlin, director of the archdiocesan Office of Respect Life, speaks at the Jan. 13 Life is Beautiful Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore. (Rus VanWestervelt/Special to the Review)

More than 200 individuals braved the first major Baltimore-area snowfall of 2019 to hear a passionate appeal by Archbishop William E. Lori to embrace all life at the “Life Is Beautiful” Mass Jan. 13 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore.

The Sisters of Life, who could not make the trip from New York City due to the inclement weather that would close schools in most of the Archdiocese of Baltimore Jan. 14, received the Life is Beautiful Award.

Kimberley Frazer was on hand to accept the Culture of Life Medal of Honor in recognition for her work with pregnant mothers throughout Baltimore. According to Johanna Coughlin, director of the archdiocesan Office of Respect Life, the medal is awarded by Archbishop Lori “to someone who has worked to build a culture of life locally.”

Frazer, a parishioner of Church of Resurrection in Ellicott City, first heard the calling to work with pregnant women in 2009.

“It started when my kids were small,” she said. “I had a heart for the babies, because I had babies. One day, I saw a sign at our parish about Forty Days for Life. I didn’t know we had an abortion clinic in Catonsville.”

In 2010, Frazer organized a bus from her parish to the National March for Life in Washington, D.C., just three weeks prior to the event. She has never looked back.

“I started going to leadership meetings in West Baltimore,” she said of Forty Days for Life. “Then I became the campaign director, and now here we are.”

In 2017, Frazer organized the opening of West Baltimore Pregnancy Choices, which is located across the street from the aforementioned Hillcrest Clinic in Catonsville. It provides a place for those who pray on the sidewalk to store materials, pray, and bring pregnant mothers to talk about their options, with the hope of referring them to the local pregnancy resource center.

“This honor gives me more exposure, not just in my area but through the archdiocese, in Catonsville and the West Baltimore area,” said Frazer. “I am wide open to see what happens next.”

Archbishop Lori said “What she is doing is really making it possible for women in difficult pregnancies to bring their babies to term and to do it in the spirit of love and compassion that is profoundly and beautifully poetic.”

The Mass began a week of activities leading up to the National March For Life Jan. 18. On Jan. 15, employees of the Catholic Center will lead the praying of the rosary on the sidewalk outside Planned Parenthood on Howard Street at 11:30 a.m. On Jan. 17, a holy hour for the intention of respect for life will be held at 1 p.m. at the basilica.

Early in Archbishop Lori’s homily, he acknowledged the challenges Catholics face today.

“The lives of the poor, of immigrants, and of racial minorities are reckoned to be less attractive than those of the self-reliant and the well-established,” he said. “Yes, our culture tells us some lives are beautiful; others not so much. How easily we can fall into this way of thinking ourselves. We can regard life as a mixed bag filled with winners, losers, and those in-between.”

Archbishop Lori ended his homily with a plea to heal “the wounds inflicted on the Creator’s handiwork,” by being “passionate advocates for human life, defenders of the defenseless, voices for the voiceless, advocates for bereft, be they unborn, terminally or chronically ill, elderly and frail, the handicapped, the poor and abandoned, victims of violence, incarcerated, strangers in a new land, those unloved and forgotten.”

“Every life is worth cherishing,” the archbishop said. “Every life is worth bringing to its full destiny.”

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Rus VanWestervelt

Rus VanWestervelt

Rus VanWestervelt, a freelance writer for the Catholic Review, is a lifelong resident of Baltimore, a graduate of both Towson University and Goucher College. He teaches writing at Towson University and in the Howard County Public School System.

Rus is the author of two works of fiction, a collection of Christmas stories and essays, and hundreds of articles on writing, parenting and teaching. Rus lives in Towson with his wife and three children, and is a parishioner of Church of the Nativity in Timonium, where he serves in the Vantage Point program, working with candidates and catechumens interested in being confirmed in the Catholic faith.