Fr. Pavone: Nellie Gray was “a tireless warrior for the unborn”

Fr. Frank & Nellie Gray at the 2012 March for Life

Miss Nellie Gray, Founder of the March for Life, has died.“Nellie Gray and the March for Life had a most profound effect on my life,” said Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life. In 1976, when he was a senior in high school, Father Pavone went to the March for Life with his mother and grandmother. Although he had been quietly considering the priesthood before that, the March cemented both his vocation and his passion for pro-life issues.

“Every year since 1974, Nellie Gray has mobilized a diverse and energetic army for life,” said Father Pavone, who has attended every march since his first one. “Her own commitment to the cause never wavered. She was a tireless warrior for the unborn and her motto was ‘no exceptions.’ “

After his ordination in 1988, Father Pavone was assigned to a parish in Staten Island, NY. Every year he led a busload of parishioners to the March for Life. He took over as national director of Priests for Life in 1993, and the following year, attending the event in his new capacity, Miss Gray invited him to say the opening prayer at the March for Life Convention that annually precedes the March.

In 2008, the National Pro-Life Religious Council, which Father Pavone serves as president, presented Miss Gray with its Pro-Life Recognition Award. Later that day, Miss Gray tripped and fell on the stage at the opening rally for the March and had to be taken to the hospital with a head injury.

“As a colleague in national pro-life leadership, Nellie was always an inspiration to the rest of us,” Father Pavone said. “Her devotion was on display that same year, 2008, when, despite being in the hospital during the March for Life, she nevertheless was present at all all-day meeting of national leaders the very next morning, with a patch on her head.”

Every year since its founding in 2003, Miss Gray invited the women of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign to stand on the rally stage holding signs that said, “I Regret My Abortion,” and she arranged for a larger group of post-abortive men and women from Silent No More to be in the vanguard of the March.

Dee Becker, Nellie, Georgette & Janet

“We are so grateful that Nellie Gray shared our vision of Silent No More, and recognized that the women who have had abortions speak with unquestioned authority about the ways they have been harmed by this choice,” said Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life and co-founder of Silent No More. “Every year more women and men come to march and to share their testimony. Nellie Gray helped make that possible for us.”

Miss Gray is also credited for realizing that African-American pro-life leaders had to become more vocal and visible in the fight for life.

“Nellie Gray knew that abortion took a heavy toll from the black community and she urged us to lend our voices to the fight against this terrible injustice,” said Dr. Alveda King, director of African-American Outreach for Priests for Life. “She was a visionary.”

Bryan Kemper, founder of Stand True Ministry and director of Youth Outreach for Priests for Life, said: “My heart is broken by the loss of Nellie Gray, a true pro-life hero and role model. At the same time I celebrate that Nellie is with our Lord who she loved so dearly. I have had the honor of working with Nellie for years and every time I March in DC in January, I know she will be watching over us and praying for us. Nellie Gray, I will miss you dearly.

The 2013 March for Life will mark the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision, and the 39th anniversary of the March.

“It was an anniversary that broke Nellie Gray’s heart every year, and every day,” Father Pavone noted. “In January we will march in her memory, in her honor, to save the unborn children to whom she dedicated her life.”

To offer your spiritual bouquet, your promise of prayers and to share your memories of Nellie go to http://www.priestsforlife.org/data/prayer_request.aspx.

Priests for Life Welcomes Day of Life Celebration; Pilgrimage to Rome Planned

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STATEN ISLAND, NY – Priests for Life will lead a pilgrimage to Rome in 2013 to help celebrate “The Year of Faith.” The group will be at the Vatican on June 16, which the Vatican has announced will be a day dedicated to the Gospel of Life. Special events in the presence of Pope Benedict XVI are planned on that special day.

“This initiative of the Vatican is an exciting development which will give believers around the world the opportunity to express, in union with the Holy Father, that our proclamation of the Faith cannot be credible without a vigorous defense of human life,” said Father  Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life. “The Faith tells us that our destiny is to be on the throne with Christ (cf. Rev. 3:21). We cannot persuasively offer this promise while ignoring those who are thrown in the garbage.”

The June 11-18 pilgrimage will be led by Father Pavone, along with Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life; Catholic author and journalist Teresa Tomeo, and Catholic tour guide leader Steve Ray.

“Priests for Life invites all who are committed to the cause of life to join us on our 2013 pilgrimage to Rome. We also will advocate that this day of life be an observance of the Church each and every year,” Fr. Pavone stated.

Anyone who would like to be part of the pilgrimage is asked to go to www.priestsforlife.org/pilgrimage/index.aspx

Feast of the Visitation

In the first chapter of Luke, we read, “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!’”

This is a marvelous encounter of two unborn children, one of whom was the Lord and the other the one who would announce Him to the world. Both of them had been specially announced and named by angels who appeared to their parents. Clearly, God gives us a calling before our birth, and is the One who prepares us for that calling. He has a relationship with children in the womb, and became one Himself. Why, then, should we be afraid to defend them and speak up for them?

A Consistent Message

The Holy Spirit is God, and all He does and speaks to us is consistent with what God the Father and God the Son have done and spoken. In the sixteenth chapter of John’s Gospel we read these words of Jesus: “He will not speak on his own, but will speak only what he hears…because he will have received from me what he will announce to you.” In John 14 we read: “The Holy Spirit…will…remind you of all that I told you.” Everything the Holy Spirit will ever say to us, individually or as a Church, will always reinforce the Gospel of Life. No disciple can claim the “freedom of the Spirit” to contradict the commandments, including that which forbids the killing of the innocent, whether born or unborn.

Fr. Pavone: Sebelius Leading Assault on Religious Freedom

STATEN ISLAND, NY – Father Frank issued the following statement regarding Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s commencement address today at Georgetown University.

“It was outrageous when Notre Dame University awarded an honorary degree to President Obama during commencement exercises in 2009,” said Father Pavone, who was invited by pro-life students to lead an alternative graduation ceremony at the Indiana university. “Georgetown’s decision to invite Secretary Sebelius is just as bad. She is leading the assault on religious freedom that has grave implications for the Catholic Church. By inviting her to speak, Georgetown offers the image of a Church that is, at best, divided, and at worst, hypocritical. What we need instead is a show of unity and resolve.”

Priests for Life in February filed the fourth of what are now 11 lawsuits against the Health and Human Services mandate that would require most faith-based employers to provide their employees with insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization services and abortifacient drugs.

Father Pavone stated, “Not only do we urge the bishops to voice their objections regarding the Sebelius invitation just as they did over Notre Dame’s invitation of Obama, but we further urge the bishops to join in the legal action that we and others have taken against Sebelius and the HHS.”

For more information, see priestsforlife.org/hhsmandate.

Happy Feast of the Ascension!

Forty days after His resurrection, the Lord Jesus ascended into heaven. What was different on that day than when He was in heaven before coming to earth? The difference was that now He was in heaven in a human body and soul — the same human nature that you and I share. Jesus took our humanity to the heights of heaven, making it possible for us to go there, too. The Ascension teaches the world the meaning and destiny of human life: we are called to be in the heights of heaven.

That is why we can never permit human life to be thrown in the garbage by abortion and other atrocities. Jesus has taken human nature to the heights of heaven — the same human nature shared by every unborn child.

Father Frank on Passing of Father Norman Weslin: “Our Loss is Heaven’s Gain”

Father Norman Weslin, left, founder of the Lambs of Christ, with Father Frank.

Father Frank issued the following statement today after learning of the death of Father Norman Weslin, a pro-life activist and founder of the Lambs of Christ.

“Our loss is Heaven’s gain,” said Father Pavone, who worked closely with Father Weslin over the last three decades. “Father Weslin’s commitment to unborn children was so profound that he spent time behind bars on many occasions. He told me in 2001, while awaiting sentencing on a federal charge, that he wasn’t ashamed to be arrested because Jesus and the Apostles all went to jail. He believed that a priest’s place was not behind his people, lending encouragement, but out in front leading the way.”

Father Weslin served for 20 years in the U.S. Army. During his military career, he met and married his wife, Mary. They adopted two children and became active in the pro-life movement. When she was killed in an accident in 1980, he turned their home into a refuge for women facing unplanned pregnancy, and he joined the priesthood. He was ordained a missionary priest of the Oblates of Wisdom in 1986.

“We will miss his passion and his witness,” Father Pavone said. “But we are sure he is being welcomed with open arms by the unborn children he championed and fought so tirelessly to save.”

Resources for Building a Culture of Life

In their pastoral plan for pro-life activities, the Catholic bishops of the United States have asked that at every Mass a prayer be offered for the defense of human life.

To help parishes fulfill this request, Priests for Life prepares an entire set of Prayers of the Faithful for each Sunday of the year, based on the readings for that Sunday.

Among these petitions each week is a prayer for an end to abortion and other forms of violence, and for the growth of a Culture of Life.

We also provide homily hints and bulletin inserts for each Sunday.

You can find these resources at priestsforlife.org, and we also provide them weekly via email.

Help your pastor today by bringing him these weekly pro-life resources for the liturgy. Visit priestsforlife.org for information.

Catholic Group Responds to Obama’s Desperate Attempt

Staten Island, NY — Priests for Life, a New York-based international pro-life organization of Catholic clergy and laity, today announced that their attorneys have responded to the Obama Administration’s desperate attempt to “shut down” the group’s lawsuit that’s been filed to stop ObamaCare from violating the conscience and morals of Americans.

Recently, Obama’s lawyers sent a letter to the court announcing its intention to file a motion to dismiss — claiming erroneously that Priests for Life does not have legal “standing” to bring the lawsuit, and that the organization hasn’t been “injured” yet because the regulations won’t take effect until January.

Priests for Life lead attorney Charles LiMandri argued that the government is simply wrong.  He wrote in his response, “Priests for Life has standing, its claims are ripe for review, and this court is ‘obliged’ to address the merits of each.”

LiMandri quotes Thomas v. Union Carbide Agric. Prod. Co., 473 U.S. at 581 (1985)—a case whose precedence applies here: “One does not have to await the consummation of threatened injury to obtain preventive relief.”

The lawsuit that scares the Obama Administration, Priests for Life v. Sebelius, seeks to permanently block the implementation of the HHS mandate that imposes clear violations of conscience upon any and all citizens who morally object to abortion and contraception.

“Since the HHS mandate directly affects Priests for Life—and every U.S. citizen—through compulsory funding of contraception and abortion-inducing drugs and devices, our lawsuit is 100 percent legitimate,” says LiMandri.

LiMandri points out that the HHS ‘Abortion Mandate’ forces Priests for Life to either pay for abortion-causing pills…promote them…or be penalized if their employee health-care plan doesn’t comply with the audacious dictatorial decrees of ObamaCare.

“According to the ObamaCare law as it’s written, Priests for Life would be fined as much as $100 per day, per employee.  This would cost Priests for Life nearly $2 million a year in fines, and we’re not going to accept this at all.”

Priests for Life is leading the way with this legal challenge of the constitutionality of ObamaCare based on religious freedom issues.

Fr. Frank states, “We urge our Priests for Life family and all concerned Americans to pray for the success of this legal battle.  In my travels across the nation, I see the strength and faith of the American people, and I know we will prevail.”

This Sunday is “Vocations Sunday”

This Sunday is “Vocations Sunday.” We pray that many will hear the call to the priesthood, the call to devote themselves fully to the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ, which is the Gospel of Life.

Many young people today are finding their vocation precisely because of the Church’s witness to the sanctity of life amidst the holocaust of abortion.  Responding to a vocation requires counter-cultural service, which is precisely the context which the pro-life movement offers. Devoting oneself to the defense of life provides a powerful seed-bed for the flowering of priestly vocations, just as a response to a priestly vocation is necessarily a commitment to the defense of life.

Let us pray today for many “good shepherds,” and let us encourage those who have already accepted that call.