When OneLife LA began five years ago, we were nervous. We were embarking on a project that was brand new, and we didn’t know if we could actually create something that would make sense. That would convey the message that we were hoping to share with the world.

OneLife LA is a very simple concept. 

We unite people from all communities around a celebration of the dignity of our common humanity and pledge to protect that dignity in our most vulnerable brothers and sisters.

At first, it was difficult. There was confusion. Just what did we stand for? What issues were we going to take up and which were we not? Were we actually pro-life?

Then, little by little, as people came to OneLife LA and experienced what was created there, and participated in the celebration of life, they understood.

Last year, 35,000 people joined in the celebration of human life. And, from the outside it may have looked like any other family festival on a sunny January Saturday in Los Angeles. We had music and food trucks, kids’ games and a big, bright stage.

But what is going on deeper under the festival atmosphere is a change of heart and a change of culture.

OneLife LA tells the story of human dignity, a story that has gotten lost in our culture. Trampled on, really. Every single person, from the moment of conception until the very last breath, has inherent human dignity rooted in our common humanity. Each has meaning and purpose  — to love and to be loved.

Christians know our dignity comes from being created unique and unrepeatable from the heart of God. We know that our loving Father sent his only Son to earth for the salvation of every individual soul.

And with that recognition of human dignity comes the responsibility to love each of our brothers and sisters, not from afar, but up close; to stand with them in their need, to advocate on their behalf, to love with the radical love of the saints.

Woven through the stories of OneLife LA speakers is the story of human dignity. The inherent dignity of the child in foster care, the dignity of the person with special needs, the dignity of our homeless neighbor, the dignity of the sick and the elderly, and the incarcerated. And, sometimes most difficult to see, the dignity of the preborn child from the first moment of conception.

These stories weave a beautiful tapestry of life. And, it is this gift that we celebrate at OneLife LA.

OneLife LA is much more than an event. It is a movement. It is about the change of heart of each one of us. It is a reminder that we cannot truly appreciate the dignity of those around us until we understand our own dignity, our own beauty, worth, and purpose. And, once we do, once we see ourselves as brothers and sisters, then we know without doubt that we have a responsibility to defend and protect and proclaim our gift of life.

We have an obligation to use our gifts to create a world where every human life is welcomed and celebrated.

As we plan for our 5th annual OneLife LA, we have so much to be grateful for. We thank Archbishop José H. Gomez for his vision. We thank our supporters, benefactors, and volunteers for their indefatigable efforts. And, most importantly, we thank our community, which took a chance on something new and has embraced the spirit of OneLife LA wholeheartedly.

Whether you have been with us from the beginning or are thinking of attending for the first time, we invite you to join us at OneLife LA on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019.

Come see for yourself a community celebrating the gift of life — a vision of life the way God meant it to be!

kathleen-domingo is the senior director of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Office of Life, Justice and Peace.

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