As a new Lenten season begins, Father Jorge Obregon from Houston is encouraging young Latino Catholics to participate in a new spiritual campaign titled Life Savers.
"I hope this can get to as many Spanish-speaking people starting in Spain and all the way from Canada to Argentina," Father Obregon told Catholic News Service in a recent phone interview.
According to Obregon, the campaign's inspiration evolved from the 2019 film "Unplanned," which tells the true story of Abby Johnson from Bryant, Texas. Johnson became the youngest clinic director in Planned Parenthood's history. After she was asked to assist in an abortion -- which was not her role as director but the clinic was shorthanded that day -- she quit and became an outspoken pro-life activist.
Sponsored by New Fire, a project for young people and adults who want to discover the Catholic faith, the 40-day Life Savers campaign has five focus areas.
Two areas that will vary from week to week are leaving behind one's vices and a little sacrifice. These commitments include refraining from social media and hot showers. Another area is getting close to Mary, and committing to praying the rosary daily.
The campaign also challenges participants to complete 30 minutes of daily prayer to Jesus and to cultivate one's interior life by exercising additional prayer, generosity and perseverance. Father Obregon said each week, there will be a theme along with detailed videos.
Father Obregon explained why he chose Lent as the time for this spiritual campaign.
"I've seen the good practice of Lenten campaigns all over where Christians and Catholics are inspired to give a lot more or just to come closer to the heart of Jesus through that penitential moment," said Father Obregon, who is a member of the Legionaries of Christ. Ordained in 2009, he works in young adult ministry.
As a priest, Father Obregon said he has seen a trend of individuals returning to confession, to the sacraments overall and especially to their prayer life during Lent, which he refers to as a "period of grace" in the liturgical year.
"Since we know that people are already going to be praying, why not give them a guideline that can help them have a clear intention?" said Father Obregon.
He told CNS that promoting the spiritual campaign to Latinos, the target population, on Instagram and Facebook has increased overall awareness of the campaign. Father Obregon said the texting and calling application WhatsApp has helped to reach Latinos worldwide because many of them utilize the app to connect and communicate.
Additionally, Father Obregon and New Fire team members have been able to spread knowledge of the campaign by sending information materials to various influencers, including priests and women religious.
Father Obregon acknowledged that it can be challenging to carve out time for personal prayer and reflection due to the busyness of life. He said that one of the purposes of the Lenten campaign's introductory video, however, is to offer concrete guidance to help participants find that time for prayer and spiritual commitments.
"Your commitment is with Jesus Christ," Father Obregon explained. "I've always believed that we have a personal relationship with a person, not with a code of spiritual commitments. Jesus is love, and he's forgiving, so if you're unable to do it, no problem."
Father Obregon said he believes that the Holy Spirit is prompting others to commit to being in love with life. He also said his prayer for this Lenten season is that people will act on the Holy Spirit's push and fully celebrate and promote the gift of life.
"I pray that we acknowledge the gift of life, and we're lucky to be alive," the priest said Obregon. "There are thousands of people who can't talk about joining this campaign because they don't exist."