Lyons residents may have noticed a larger than usual number of vehicles honking their horns as they drove through town around noon on March 22.
That’s because Mary Grace Gemma Long, 19, was standing in front of St. Michael Church with a large sign that read, "Honk For God’s Marriage."
Long and a handful of others stood in front of the church at the corner of Holley and Phelps streets and displayed signs and a banner showing their support for marriage as a covenant between one man and one woman. As they prayed the rosary and a novena to St. Joseph, they heard quite a few honks and only one negative comment, said Long, who attends St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Wayne County and St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in Rochester.
Long said she coordinated the prayerful gathering in support of traditional marriage because she believes traditional marriage between one man and one woman is a beautiful thing. She said her decision to hold such a gathering was inspired by her attendance at the inaugural Rochester Catholic Women’s Conference.
At the conference, which was held March 1 at Aquinas Institute in Rochester, Long listened to a number of presentations about the contributions Catholic women have made to the church and the unique gifts they offer. Long enjoyed the entire day, but said her favorite part was Bishop Salvatore R. Matano’s homily during the event’s opening Mass.
Today the image of Mary continues to shine forth through the work of faithful Catholic women, Bishop Matano told the nearly 1,000 people gathered at the conference. Women who have modeled their lives after Mary enrich the church, which needs their witness and support, he told them.
"As we go into the future, we men need you to walk with us, pray for us, to collaborate with us in the work of salvation," Bishop Matano said.
Like Mary, faithful women provide examples of lives "alive in faith," he added.
"Never, never underestimate your daily lives and all that you bring to the world. To you at times it may seem so very unimportant. To me, it is so important. There is no task performed on the part of others that is meaningless," Bishop Matano said.
Long said the bishop’s homily encouraged her to live out her faith and bring it to the world by publicly standing up for traditional marriage.
"That’s really why I thought I could be a better woman myself, and do better. I just felt like I could do this," she said of coordinating the March 22 gathering. "I don’t know why, but (the homily) just made me feel like I could do it."
Although the Catholic Church certainly does not support homosexual relationships, it still shows compassion to all, Long said. That fact also made it easier for her to work up the courage to take a stand.
"We don’t judge the person. It’s a very easy issue to stand up for when you know there’s no condemning of the person. It made it a lot less of a scary thing for me to approach it from that angle," she said.
Long said she wasn’t trying to provoke or anger anyone, but just to take a stand for traditional marriage, which she considers beautiful. She plans to hold a similar gathering again next year and hopes others who saw her on March 22 might be inspired to take action themselves.
"It’s simple, really," she said. "It’s just about the beauty that is a marriage between a man and a woman."
Tags: Catholic Marriage