For a generation, Catholics from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles have sung, prayed, lit candles, and wept each January during the Requiem for the Unborn.

Offered at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels for two decades, and in parishes before that, the Mass mourns every unborn child killed by abortion during a single day in the greater Los Angeles area. It began as a memorial to one of those children — the son or daughter of its composer, John Bonaduce.

Now 72, Bonaduce is a church musician known for combining traditional and contemporary styles in a way that is reverent and unabashedly joyful. After an early career in Hollywood, he entered liturgical music fulltime in 1990.

The turning point of his faith journey had come more than a decade earlier when at the age of 26, he paid for his girlfriend to have an abortion.

By that time, he had slipped away from his Catholic roots. It never occurred to him that an abortion took a child’s life. His friends assured him it was the best decision.

When he realized that there had been a child, “my conscience was seared,” he said.

That night he rushed to a church in Santa Monica and pounded on the rectory door. When a priest answered, Bonaduce begged to make a confession then and there.

“He was very good to me,” Bonaduce recalled.

“It was genuine. I had come to it on my own — that this was a bad thing I had invested in. It’s 135 bucks for an abortion to get me out of a jam. A terrible, terrible idea. But embracing it is powerful. And God is your friend on a whole new level after you’ve acquired this level of self-knowledge.”

His return to the Church took three years. He wrote Requiem for the Unborn with support and input from his wife, Eileen.

Some of the musical settings came to him almost instantly, while others took years to compose. It debuted in 1995.

The heart of the Mass — which was offered this year on Jan. 20 — is a candle-lighting ritual. Parishioners in the darkened cathedral carry forward large votive candles, each representing a child who died in an abortion that day in greater Los Angeles.

Two decades ago, there were more than 450 candles. This year there were 120, though part of the reduction is due to increased use of abortion pills that aren’t registered in surgical statistics….

From Angelus News