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Archbishop Lucas: Hope in God conquers fear and violence

Twelve-year-old Patrick Rowe added his prayers for an end to abortion and peace in Syria to those of about 400 others Sept. 7 at the 14th annual Vigil for Life Mass and Procession in Bellevue.

It was his first time at the prayerful gathering, but it won't be his last, said Patrick, a member of St. Columbkille Parish in Papillion.

"It's pretty exciting," he said shortly after the Mass celebrated at St. Mary Church by Archbishop George J. Lucas. "Everyone is coming together to help Syria in faith and prayer, to help end abortion."

The event - which included exposition and adoration of the Eucharist, Benediction and a rosary procession to an abortion clinic three blocks from the church - happened to be scheduled on the same day Pope Francis designated for prayers and fasting for peace in war-torn Syria.

Archbishop Lucas sought prayers for those involved in both situations, and noted a common thread in the sad, ongoing violence of abortion, Syria's civil war and fears of that war widening to include more nations. The violence is driven by desperation, fear and a lack of hope in God's providence, he said.

"It comes from a sense that there is no better, peaceful or profound solution possible for us. So we strike out on our own," the archbishop said in his homily.

People can turn to God, however, placing their concerns in his providential care and relying on his guidance to find love, justice, peace and mercy, Archbishop Lucas said.

God is our help, he said.

"Do we believe that?" the archbishop asked. "We can ask the Holy Spirit to help us believe that more, and to believe that God is our help in the details. That God will provide us with instruments of peace, of mercy and of salvation for ourselves and for our brothers and sisters."

Patrick and his father, Mike, were among several volunteers who after the Mass held walkie-talkies projecting Archbishop Lucas' voice as he led the rosary during the walk to the abortion clinic and back to the church. Schoolchildren holding a large image of Our Lady of Guadalupe led the procession, followed by fourth-degree members of the Knights of Columbus bearing swords and wearing plumed hats, tuxedoes and white gloves.

Mike Rowe said the archbishop's words stayed with him throughout the procession - about the desperation of violence and relying on God's wisdom to bring peace to families and nations.

"It's all in God's hands," said Rowe, who has participated in the special Mass and procession the last five years. "We raise our prayers to God, it's our way of communicating with God and letting him know what's in our hearts."

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