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.

Today’s Pro-Life Reflection

 

This reflection is taken from my book Pro-Life Reflections for Every Day, which is available for purchase at: ProLifeReflectionsForEveryDay.org.

“Whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones…will not go unrewarded” (Matthew 10:42).

Reflection: As Terri Schiavo was dying, a police officer was in the room at all times, making sure that nobody gave Terri a drop of water. A vase of flowers sat on her night table. It was filled with water. Those flowers were being nourished, and a human being was not. How upside-down is the Culture of Death! How offensive is the cruelty we show to the weak and vulnerable.

Prayer: Have mercy on your people, Lord; bring an end to the cycle of blindness and violence around us. Amen!

Today’s Pro-Life Reflection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This reflection is taken from my book Pro-Life Reflections for Every Day, which is available for purchase at: ProLifeReflectionsForEveryDay.org

“Then will the words that are written be fulfilled: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory’” (1 Corinthians 15:54).

Reflection: At the scene of the first murder of Abel by Cain, the soil “opened its mouth” to swallow Abel’s blood (see Genesis 4:10-11). At the scene of the final victory of life, it is death itself that will be “swallowed up in victory.” God is in the business of destroying death, and that is why his people work on behalf of life.

Prayer: Lord, continue to give us consolation, amidst a Culture of Death, that this evil will not last forever, but will be swallowed up in victory. Amen.

Today’s Pro-Life Reflection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This reflection is taken from my book Pro-Life Reflections for Every Day, which is available for purchase at: ProLifeReflectionsForEveryDay.org

“He consoles us in all our afflictions and thereby enables us to console others in their tribulations” (2 Corinthians 1:4).

Reflection: Terri Schiavo’s family now assists other families who face tragedies similar to their own, and is calling for laws in various states to protect the disables from being dehydrates to death as Terri was. Rather than being absorbed in bitterness or despair, this family has accepted from the Lord their mission to be a voice for the voiceless. Their book, “A Life that Matters,” is their personal account of what happened to Terri.

Prayer: As I battle the culture of death, Lord, may I receive and share your consolation. Amen.

More Than Wishful Thinking

When the women who had gone to anoint Jesus’ body on the first Easter morning returned to the Apostles with the news that they had seen the risen Lord, the Apostles refused to believe it.  The story seemed like nonsense to them.  That night, when Jesus appeared to them, He chided them for their stubborn refusal to believe.

The Apostles clearly were not engaged in wishful thinking, or a desire to make up the Resurrection story.  If they were, then they would readily have used the women’s story as a starting point.

In reality, they came to believe because they saw and touched the risen Lord.  This gives us confidence.  Death has been conquered, and therefore we can fight the culture of death, knowing that the victory of life is more than wishful thinking.

Join Us in Saying an Easter Prayer for Life

The Easter Season is a celebration of Life, and a time to renew our confidence in the ultimate victory of the forces of life against the culture of death.

Therefore, Priests for Life has composed a special Easter Prayer for Life that we invite you to say each day of this holy season. The prayer reminds us that the victory of Christ, the Author of Life, is the source from which we draw strength to fight evils like abortion.

So visit priestsforlife.org, print out the Easter Prayer for Life, and invite your family, pro-life group, school and parish to join us in praying it. Let us rejoice throughout this Resurrection season that death can never have the last word in the human story.

Seven Years Ago Today

On March 30, 2005, Terri Schiavo had her last full day of life on this earth. I spent her last night by her side, praying with her, reading Scripture to her, and assuring her of the love of so many of you. Terri had not received a drop of water in nearly two weeks. As I reached out my hand to touch hers, I could also reach it out to touch the vase of flowers that was next to her, and that vase was filled with water. The flowers were nourished; Terri was deprived of nourishment. Court orders saw to it that none of us could give her some of the water that nourished the flowers. In a culture of death, law is divorced from humanity, and we are all victimized in the process.

Even Now

Jesus Christ can change us and can change our world. We are people of hope. When Jesus visited Martha and Mary to console them over the death of their brother Lazarus, even though he had been in the tomb for four days, the sisters said to Jesus, “Even now, I know that God will give you whatever you ask Him.” Even now. That should be our theme as we fight the evil of abortion. Some will say it has gone on so long it cannot be changed. Others will voice the objection that was raised when Jesus ordered Lazarus’ grave opened: there will be a stench. In spite of the culture of death, we are called to hope in the God Who has not changed, and in His power to defeat abortion. Even now.

Lent is a Season of Life

Lent is a season of Life. As baptized believers, we reflect on how the Passion, death, and Resurrection of Christ have brought us the new life we now live. We commit ourselves to join all our suffering to His for our own salvation and that of the whole world. To help us all observe Lent, I have written a special Lenten prayer for life, and invite you to join me in saying it each day of this holy season. You can view it here. As we prepare to celebrate the victory of Christ over death, we commit ourselves to defeat the power of abortion and the Culture of Death. As we practice Lenten penance, we can do no better than to reach out and save the lives of our youngest brothers and sisters.

“The time is now” to stop abortionists like Brigham, Riley

Responding to the news that abortionists Steven Brigham and Nicola Riley are being held in custody for the murders of viable babies, Father Pavone stated:

“These two individuals are now where they belong and should be in jail for the rest of their lives. This case, as it progresses, is key for the American people to pay attention to, because it exposes the abortion industry for what it is. Abortionists have no respect for human life, much less for human laws. Even those who believe abortion should be legal can join with us to stop the out of control practices of people like Brigham and Riley, and the time is now.”

Priests for Life is the nation’s largest Catholic pro-life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia. For more information, visit priestsforlife.org.