Last night was the 'Banquet for Life,' sponsored by Cincinnati Right to Life. I was honored to be asked to give the Invocation at the Banquet, and even more honored by who was chosen to be the recipient of this year's major award.
Tony Maas is president of JTM Food Group here in Cincinnati, a sponsor of the Cincinnati Reds, among so much else. He is a former parishioner of mine, to boot, and is very active and involved in the Pro-Life movement. He has helped establish the Zone Communications Group and the Underground, as well as Ruah Woods, a center for teaching about the Theology of the Body. He and his wife Barb were honored with this year's award.
As wnyone who knows Tony will attest, he does not keep his thoughts and feelings to himself. He is outspoken, he speaks his mind, and is not afraid of repercussions, good or ill. One of the ways that he shares his Pro-Life message is through the trucks used to haul supplies to distributers. The rear panel of every semi trailer features the picture of a baby with the words 'Life, what a beautiful choice.' At the bottom: 'JTM: A Pro-Life Company' Simple.
The presenter of the award happens to also work for JTM in research and development (he also serves as the president of Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati), and mentioned that it was a risk to have such a political statement on the back of the trucks, but that they get a response of 100-1 positive. In fact, he mentioned that someone called to thank them for such a powerful witness, and to thank them, he was going to start introducing JTM through his distribution network. He mentioned: 'This was a company we had worked years to get into, and here a simple sighting of one of our trucks opened a door that had been firmly shut.'
I tell this story because Tony does not work for accolades, but truly is an example of someone who lives his faith and convictions out in the world, come what may. Yes, it is a risk; but there is an even greater reward in heaven. As Jesus says so much in the Gospels, and echoed repeatedly by Pope John Paul, DO NOT BE AFRAID!!! Yes, he promises the Cross, but there is Glory present there that the world cannot touch.
I am humbled and very proud that Tony serves on the advisory board for the Vocation Office, that he is willing to take time out of his very busy schedule to help me do this work more efficiently and diligently. God Bless, and thanks for all you do.
By the by, the keynote speaker was Shawn Carney, founder of 40 Days for Life. He did not disappoint! What a passionate and zealous young man for life. His reminder is that the pro-life movement reaches its greatest strength not in Washington nor in the White House, but locally. He shared just a few stories of how 40 Days has changed hearts. (or, more appropriately, Our Lord has changed hearts through the witness of those who are present night and day before abortion mills)
40 Days for Life is ongoing right now in many places throughout the country. I will be leading the Rosary at 7:30 pm on Monday at the Planned (un)Parenthood on Auburn Ave. in Cincinnat. Come join us if you can.