On the evening of Tuesday, March 31st, Ave Maria University hosted a special Mass remembering Terri Schindler Schiavo, the Florida woman at the center of a national right-to-die vs. right-to-life debate for years. The congregation filling the 1,000 seat Ave Maria Oratory was dotted with reporters and photographers from newspapers and TV stations.
In attendance were Schiavo’s parents Bob and Mary Schindler, her sister Suzanne Schindler Vitadamo and her brother Bobby Schindler. The Ave Maria community and many friends and supporters of Schindler family were there to celebrate the great mysteries of the Catholic Faith with the Schindler family.
Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, was the main celebrant and homilist. Concelebrating the Mass were seven other priests. Priests for Life is the a Catholic organization exclusively dedicated to fighting abortion and euthanasia.
Priests for Life and Terri’s Foundation established the “International Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Terri Schindler Schiavo, and All of Our Vulnerable Brothers and Sisters” (“Terri’s Day”) last year. Its purpose is to foster education, prayer, and activism regarding discrimination against the disabled, and advocacy for people in situations similar to what Terri and her family faced so that no one will again suffer as she did. Terri’s Foundation is dedicated to promoting the Culture of Life, embracing the true meaning of compassion by opposing the practice of euthanasia.
Holding the Mass at Ave Maria brought the Terri Schiavo Foundation renewed national attention. On the previous three anniversaries, memorial Masses were held in the St. Petersburg area, home to the Schindler family.
Four years ago on this day, Fr. Pavone was at Terri Schiavo’s bedside with her family. Terri died on March 31, 2005, after her feeding tube was removed at the request of her husband – an action her family fought against for years. By the order of Judge George W. Greer, Terri died a slow, barbaric death by starvation and dehydration over a period of almost two weeks.
Terri’s Foundation continually reminds society that countless people are suffering slow, agonizing deaths in hospice, nursing homes, and hospitals in America and around the world.
During the homily, Fr. Pavone assured the Schindler family, “Countless people in the United States and around the world followed Terri’s struggle, from the Vatican to our own back yards. We hoped when you hoped, suffered when you suffered, and prayed when you prayed. I want you to know that we are with you. We were with you then, and we continue to be with you now, because Terri’s fight continues through this culture of death.”
Speaking on behalf of all those who fight against the culture of death, Pavone told the family, “We are with you.”
You can visit Terri’s Foundation (www.TerrisFight.org) and Priests for Life (www.priestsforlife.org) to learn more about defending the vulnerable.