Bishop's Column

Pro-life billboards are signs of hope—may we be, too

The following column is adapted from Bishop Conley’s remarks at the blessing of a pro-life Signs of Hope billboard located at Interstate 70 and Kipling Street in Wheat Ridge July 16.

Photo by James Baca/DCR
AUXILIARY BISHOP James Conley, center, at the July 16 Sign of Hope billboard blessing with, from left: Father Joseph Cao, Elizabeth Walker, Monica Smith and Father Piotr Mozdyniewicz.

Daniel Boorstin, the American historian and author, rightly observed that: “the ... American highway system has isolated the American-in-transit. This vast ocean of superhighways is nearly as free of culture as the sea traversed by the Mayflower pilgrims.”

We indeed stand beside roads of isolation—which permeate not only our highway system but, increasingly, American culture.

Today, I fear, too many of us live in isolated cocoons of self-definition. In America, we can easily create our own realities, and be shielded from the truth, goodness and beauty that God has written into his creation and into our humanity.

Too many Americans ignore the truth about human dignity—ignore the truth about abortion—simply by refusing to encounter the truth.  By refusing to encounter reality,  Americans allow the scourge of abortion to continue by pretending it doesn’t exist.  In the United States, 50 million children have been killed by abortion in the last 40 years and very few are paying attention.

Our call as Christians is to bring the penetrating reality of Jesus Christ into lives which have not encountered truth.  To bring the light of the Gospel to woefully dark corners of the world.

What better way to penetrate the hearts of Colorado than to proclaim the truth of the dignity of life on a billboard on Interstate 70 and Kipling Street, where advertisers estimate 37,000 people will see it every day and more than a quarter-million people will see it each week?

In July 2011, Pope Benedict XVI told the clergy and faithful of the Diocese of Rome that the new evangelization must begin in the human heart.

“To be effective the proclamation of faith must begin with a heart that believes, hopes, loves; a heart that loves Christ and believes in the power of the Holy Spirit,” the pope said.

The pro-life billboard on I-70 proclaims the word of God: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.”  Through this message, hearts can be reached and hope can be inspired.  This message will inspire fruitful conversations and earnest reflection.  It will foster belief.

Laywomen Elizabeth Walker and Monica Smith, initiators of the pro-life Signs of Hope billboard initiative, have dedicated themselves to this effort at the most essential level—by proclaiming the dignity of unborn children and God’s love for them. I want to thank them for their efforts, their fellow parishioners at St. Joan of Arc Parish, and anyone else who is involved in this apostolate.

Our commitment to the Gospel of Life should not end with such projects. A pro-life commitment should also be a part of how mothers and fathers raise their families. Parents, you are the first teachers of values and faith for your children. Make it a point to speak to your children about the importance of life, take them to pray in front of abortion clinics, pray with them for unborn children and their parents.

For those who aren’t married, seek to show your love for life, born and unborn, by inviting your friends to pro-life events, praying together for the unborn, and finding ways to support families that are struggling or just in need of some extra help.

All of us need to embrace and defend the goodness of life with our own lives.

To quote Blessed Mother Teresa, “Do something beautiful for God.” If you do beautiful things for him—like supporting pro-life efforts such as the Signs of Hope apostolate—you will witness to the goodness and beauty of life, and hearts will be drawn to God—the ultimate lover of life.

May all of us be a sign of hope for those we encounter each day. May they see in us a person who is deeply in love with God, and therefore, full of hope and joy.

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