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OTTAWA, May 14, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-life efforts are “a powerful witnesses to your Catholic faith,” a Canadian bishop told an overflow congregation gathered for Mass at Ottawa’s St. Patrick’s Basilica the morning of the 18th annual March for Life.

Bishop Ronald Fabbro of London urged Catholics to speak up against abortion, despite the ridicule that would bring.

While “often [pro-life] efforts are not recognized,” he said, “They are powerful witnesses to your Catholic faith that manifest that your faith in Christ makes a difference in your lives.”

Fabbro was homilist, while Toronto’s Cardinal Thomas Collins was celebrant at one of the four Masses and three prayer services held throughout the national capital this morning, before the March for Life.

“It’s important for us as Catholics, as followers of Jesus, not to be silent,” Fabbro emphasized. “To stand up for what we believe. To stand up, show our solidarity for the vulnerable, the poor, for the unborn, people young and old, people from all parts of our country will be speaking out with one voice: abortion is wrong.

“It violates a fundamental human right: the right to life.”

“It takes courage to stand up for what we believe. We can count on being ridiculed and silenced. The message we keep hearing from the secular society in which we live is that we have no business bringing our religious convictions into the public square,” he added.

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“Do we have the courage to receive Jesus’ light into our hearts? Do we have the courage and boldness to speak out for others? For the weakness, for the powerless, the unborn, the sick, that are unable to speak?”

Fabbro called the March for Life “vitally important.”

“We will be joining this afternoon thousands of people on Parliament Hill. We will march through the streets of Ottawa to show our opposition to abortion and to give public witness to our deeply held convictions about the dignity and the value of every human life.”

Archbishop of Ottawa Terrence Prendergast was the main celebrant at the pro-life Mass at Notre-Dame Cathedral, with Bishop of Cornwall Marcel Damphousse giving the homily.

Bishop Damphousse told members of the congregation that they need to “truly understand the nature of their mission as Christians” if they are to be an effective witness in the fight to protect and defend life “from the moment of conception to natural death.”

“You are here today to rally the Spirit, the Sprit of the Gospel, to engage in a manifestation of some sort, that we my make the truth of the Gospel be made known to all of our society,” he said.

Damphousse stressed that sharing the “love” given to us by Christ is the meaning of the Gospel.

“As the Father has loved me so I have loved you,” he said, quoting the Gospel. “The very same love that God the Father had for his Son is the very same love that Christ has for us. Christ invites us to abide in that love, to make our lives rooted in that love,” he added.

At the March for Life Mass in the small and more intimate Church of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, Archbishop Fred Colli of Thunder Bay, Ontario warned that while the “world is a battlefield when it comes to life” we must not let the troubles of the world make us “immune” to the gift of life that we all share.

He urged participants of the March to witness to the sanctity of life, not just today, but to accept “the challenge that Jesus gives us from the Gospel to go out and proclaim the Gospel in order to change the world.”

“We are here this morning, in this Church, praying to the Father in the name of Jesus, that he will keep us strong and faithful to our call, because we are chosen to be ambassadors of life and for the respect for life in our world. And we do that, not just here, not just at the rally, not just at the march, but we do that in our interaction, in our relationship with every single person we meet,” he said.

Colli urged that attendees show “that dignity and that respect for life that every person shares” and to recognize “that in every person we are to see the image of Jesus.”

In his opening comments, Prendergast said that assisted suicide and euthanasia — about to be imposed on Canada after a Supreme Court decision earlier this year — must be opposed in the fight to respect life.

“It will be a long and arduous fight,” he told the almost packed cathedral.

Note: Pete Baklinski, Thaddeus Baklinski, and Patrick Craine all contributed to this report