Marking the fifth anniversary celebration of Priests for Life - a non-profit, anti-abortion organization based in Port Chester, N.Y. - the Rev. Frank Pavone spoke yesterday at the Staaten Restaurant in West Brighton about his work with the group.
Father Pavone, formerly parochial vicar of St. Charles R.C. Church in Oakwood, now heads the national organization. He was appointed to the position more than three years ago with the blessing of John Cardinal O'Connor. He has traveled the country speaking against abortion and euthanasia to priests and Catholic lay groups. He also has been encouraging their increased participation in pro-life activities.
"We're educating people about their political responsibilities to vote and be informed of candidate issues," said Father Pavone, who recently spent time in Washington lobbying against partial-birth abortions.
Father Pavone yesterday updated the more than 250 people from various organizations and states about his activities on Eternal World Television Network (EWTN), a cable station, and his training activities nationwide.
Bud Macfarlane Sr., an expert on Marian apparitions, said the abortion issue is the single most important issue in the history of the world.
The Rev. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R. (Community of Franciscan Renewal for the South Bronx) and director of spiritual development of the Archdiocese of New York, spoke about the conflicts faced by the clergy today.
"The problem for the clergy: they are supposed to he gentle and kind to people in trouble ... to be confrontational and kind is not easy. That is why the clergy needs support when they have this difficult task," he said.
Members of the Staten Island Office of Priests for Life said they were happy to again host the celebration, which was officially consecrated to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
"This is a thrill for Staten Islanders. I think for him [Father Pavone] to come back and celebrate is like him coming home," said Janet A. Morana, National Operations Coordinator.
Anthony DeStefano, the group's chief of staff, said that while the group attracts members nationwide, its hub remains on the Island.
"He [Father Pavone] has built up an army of loyal volunteers." DeStefano said.
There was a Mass earlier in the day at Holy Family R.C. Church, Westerleigh.