YORK, PA — Peg Pritchard’s secret? The personal invitation.
Eight men and women made their promises as Missionaries of Evangelium Vitae (MEV) on Saturday at St. Joseph’s Church here. Last year, 13 made promises. Next year? Who knows, but people already have told Mrs. Pritchard they would like to be part of her next Life Cell.
“I guess the numbers are good,” said Mrs. Pritchard, who made her promise in 2008, along with her friend and Life Cell co-facilitator Vicki Crispo. “There is such a passion that we have, that I think people see it and know it and feel it. When people ask me about MEV, I say, ‘Maybe you should consider it. Just come and see.’ The personal invitation works very well.”
For the Missionaries of the Gospel of Life (“Evangelium Vitae”), a ministry of New York-based Priests for Life, clergy and laity devote 10 months to a year studying the 1995 encyclical written by Pope John Paul II and then commit the rest of their lives witnessing to the dignity and respect of all individuals, from conception to natural death, focusing in particular on the protection of the child in the womb.
“It’s pro-life spirituality. What we stress first and foremost is their relationship with the Lord,” Mrs. Pritchard said. “After they make their promises, He will direct them and they will discern what God is asking of them, and He will equip them for it.”
Some are moved to pray outside abortion clinics, others to work at pregnancy resource centers or to reach out to post-abortive men and women…some will begin Respect Life groups at their churches.
“One mother is raising her children to recognize and respect the dignity of every person,” Mrs. Pritchard said, “and I told her, ‘you are right where you are supposed to be.’ ”
Those who made their promises Saturday include Deacon Dan and Bernadette Bernardy, Rachel Bramucci, Stephanie Burns, Edna Christ, Nancy Marquette, Wendy Matarese and Maria Mullen.
Worldwide, 1,622 people are in formation with MEV. When the Rev. Paul Schenck, director of Respect Life activities for the Diocese of Harrisburg, accepts the promises in York, a total of 206 people will have earned the distinctive MEV pin.
“The work we do for the unborn is a charism. It’s a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is a vocation,” said Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life. “Pro-life is a spirituality. It’s an integral aspect of our identity. The pro-life cause is a cause that chose us before we chose it.”
Mrs. Pritchard’s commitment to pro-life began when she was a child and had just learned about the Holocaust. “I talked to my Mom about it, and I asked, ‘why didn’t anyone do anything?’”
Years later, in 2003, the mother of four sons attended a Women of Grace conference in Doylestown, PA, with her friend, Mrs. Crispo, and together they heard, loud and clear, the call to stand up for the unborn.
“I needed to witness and bring to fruition that unsettled feeling I had as a child when I learned about the Holocaust,” Mrs. Pritchard said.
Father Schenk later invited the women to learn about MEV. In 2008, Father Denis Wilde, OSA, associate director of Priests for Life, accepted their promises. During a mass at 9:45 a.m. Saturday, eight more people will commit themselves to be lifelong missionaries of the Gospel of Life.
To learn more about the MEV program, visit www.MissionariesoftheGospelofLife.com.