THOUSANDS GATHERED IN DOWNTOWN LA TO CELEBRATE THE BEAUTY AND DIGNITY OF HUMAN LIFE AT 9TH ANNUAL ONELIFE LA
—FosterAll received a $10,000 award to support its mission to serve foster children and parents—
Thousands of Southern Californians gathered back in-person to join Archbishop José H. Gomez and six Southern California bishops at the nineth annual OneLife LA today at Los Angeles State Historic Park in downtown Los Angeles to celebrate the beauty and dignity of every human life from conception to natural death.
“OneLife LA is a wonderful event each year for families as we celebrate the gift of life and the beautiful truth that we are all children of God and that every human life is sacred.”
Archbishop Gomez was joined by Auxiliary Bishops for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles David O’Connell and Marc Trudeau, Bishop of the Diocese of Fresno Joseph Brennan, Bishop Emeritus for the Diocese of Fresno Armando Xavier Ochoa, Bishop for the Diocese of Orange Kevin Vann, and Auxiliary Bishop for the Diocese of San Diego Ramon Bejarano.
OneLife LA seeks to promote a culture of life, where every human life is dignified, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized. Spearheaded by the Archdiocese’s Office of Life, Justice and Peace, the event kicked off at the city’s birthplace, La Placita, with a welcome from Archbishop Gomez, who led a Walk for Life from Olvera Street to Los Angeles State Historic Park for the official program and celebration. The program and family festival included a roster of dynamic voices sharing their personal and life-affirming stories.
“OneLife LA is not a single day event, but a movement that is meant to be lived throughout the year,” said Michael P. Donaldson, senior director of the Archdiocese’s Office of Life, Justice and Peace. “This year’s theme ‘Our Mission is Love,’ speaks to our calling to honor the dignity of all humanity and to recognize that each of us are made in the image and likeness of God.”
During the event, families were able to engage with community partners that offered service projects in foster care, mental health, services for the homeless, and combating human trafficking as ways for attendees to get involved in the mission of OneLife LA beyond the day of the event.
FosterAll was this year’s recipient of the fourth annual OneLife LA Service Grant of $10,000 to support its mission to provide safe and loving homes foster children and parents. The nonprofit recruits prospective foster parents from faith communities and provides ongoing support to these heroic families so that they can provide safe and loving homes for the thousands of children who have been abused and neglected.
“We extend our gratitude and appreciation to the leadership and staff of FosterAll. The work of this remarkable organization is a tremendous gift to our local communities, especially to the thousands of children who are hoping to be placed in safe and loving homes,” said Michael P. Donaldson, Senior Director of the Archdiocese’s Office of Life, Justice, and Peace. “FosterAll is a magnificent and empowering agent in supporting heroic families who desire to support children in crisis. We are so happy to award FosterAll the OneLife LA Grant for 2023.”
Other community partners this year included organizations that fight human trafficking, help homeless pregnant women and their children, improve the lives of families who have relatives with a mental illness, and grant children with Down syndrome access to heart surgery, such as No One Dies Alone (NODA), Through God’s Grace Ministry, Order of Malta, Harvest Home, 40 Days for Life, Nami South Bay, Hearts of Joy International, Options United, Sofesa, Knights of Columbus and Catholic Cemeteries and Mortuaries.
OneLife LA 2023 speakers and performers included:
Jess Echeverry, a woman and family advocate and speaker, who has survived parental divorce and alcoholism, as well as emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Her testimony includes dark times of physical and sexual violence, teenage pregnancy, years of homelessness, abortion, same sex attraction and two attempts at suicide. Her book “Dazzled” details her life experiences in a way that lifts up and enlightens others who are searching for ways to heal.
Lauren Costabile is the Founder and Executive Director of Hearts of Joy International. A New Jersey native, Lauren is a speaker and fierce advocate for those with Down syndrome. She is deeply passionate about serving this population and showing the world the immense gift that are these children. Lauren also counsels and provides education about Down syndrome and heart defects to families, communities and orphanages around the world.
Ricardo and Modesta Pulido have been married for over 43 years. They have seven children and four grandkids. Since 2010, both Rick and Modesta have been involved with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI/South Bay) which has given them the opportunity to be state trainers and to teach family to family classes and prepare other parents who want to be NAMI teachers and share their experiences with other families who have mental health problems.
Brenda Noriega is a national speaker. She collaborates in national and international ministry committees, including the International Youth Advisory Body for the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life in Rome. Brenda is passionate about a holistic and transformational pastoral approach that includes life, dignity, justice, and mission.
Benito Medrano is the Young Adult Ministry coordinator for the Diocese of Orange, CA. Previously, he worked for the Office of Formation and Evangelization in the Diocese of Fresno as Hispanic and Youth and Young Adult Ministry Coordinator which included ministry to migrant communities and Spanish-speaking apostolic movements.
Chika Anyanwu is a Catholic evangelist, former Confirmation coordinator/youth & young adult minister, and the author of “My Encounter: How I Met Jesus in Prayer.” Her missionary zeal is inspired by a love of Christ and the Church, the lives of the saints, and a desire to see people live in the knowledge of their worth, while affirming the dignity of others.
Father Victor Taglianetti is a Capuchin Franciscan Friar and Priest, and a native of Southern California. Besides doing retreats, talks, and conferences, Father Vic loves to share the Gospel message through Catholic Rap music in live events, social media, and Spotify, going by the moniker, “Bro Vic.”
Mike and Penny Michalak, who have been married for 35 years, are parents to 16 children, 10 of them adopted, four with Down syndrome, and grandparents of six children. They’re founders of two Louisville, Kentucky-based organizations: Immaculata Classical Academy, a Catholic school that serves more than 200 children with and without Down syndrome, as well as Angels in Disguise, whose mission is to “Celebrate the Gift of Down syndrome.” by way of adoption grants, life-saving heart surgery grants, and educational grants, among other services.
Performers included Christian band Array of Hope, Kairy Marquez, a Christian singer born in the Dominican Republic, and Francis Cabildo, director of Worship at USC’s Catholic Caruso Center.
NOTE: Photos are available upon request.