Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a key architect of the abortion industry, said publicly to gatherings of clergy, after he became pro-life, that he and his pro-abortion colleagues in the 1960's and 70's "would never have gotten away with what we did if you (the clergy) had been united, purposeful, and strong."
The key reason Priests for Life got started was the conviction that today's proponents of the culture of death will still not get away with what they are doing if we become more united, purposeful, and strong.
Cardinal O'Connor was instrumental in the genesis and growth of Priests for Life, having released Fr. Frank Pavone in 1993 to do this work full time. In a letter to Fr. Frank, the Cardinal wrote, "I know of no effort more noble, more timely or important than the recruitment of our clergy in the cause of life." (March 21, 1996).
Mindful, then, of the teaching and example of Cardinal O'Connor and Dr. Nathanson in this regard, Priests for Life intends to redouble its efforts in 2014 to train the clergy. With the support of Cardinal O'Connor's sister, Mary Ward, we are launching the Cardinal John O'Connor Institute for the Pro-life Training of the Clergy, which will include a re-packaging of many of the activities Priests for Life has done all along, together with some new initiatives.
These activities, which will span all denominations across the Body of Christ, will include the following:
-- Training seminars for seminarians, deacons, and priests, in which our team will travel to seminaries and dioceses, and present a flexible package of presentations ranging in length anywhere from a luncheon talk to a seminar of several days, and covering the themes of preaching, counseling, and pro-life strategies and activities that can be carried out and promoted in parishes, schools, and other Catholic institutions.
-- Training in pro-life spirituality, with retreats and days of recollection available for seminarians, deacons, and priests.
-- A new book on Preaching the Pro-life Message, containing, among other things, answers to the most common fears about addressing abortion, and homily hints based on the readings of every Sunday of the three-year liturgical cycle. These homily hints are also available for each of these Sundays in video format on You Tube, as well as in a smartphone application.
-- Special training days offered for clergy at our New York headquarters of Priests for Life, as well as at our Washington DC office, right behind the Supreme Court. Sessions in Washington will include special opportunities to interact with practicing Christians in Congress and to learn more about how to support pro-life legislation.
-- Specialized training in post-abortion healing, making use of our expert team who developed Rachel's Vineyard Ministries, which operates under the umbrella of Priests for Life, and also making use of the insights of our Silent No More Awareness Campaign.
-- Specialized training in the healing of former abortion clinic workers and abortionists, based on the research and experience of the "Society of Centurions," a worldwide organization of former abortionists, who have gone through healing based on the model developed by Canadian psychiatrist Dr. Philip Ney, foremost expert in the psychology of abortionists.
-- Specialized training in how to dialogue with advocates and practitioners of abortion, and show to them the face of Christ, inviting them to conversion based on a recognition that our belief in the sanctity of every human life includes theirs, too.
The Cardinal's sister, Mary Ward, recently said of this effort, “The pro-life legacy of my brother, Cardinal John O’Connor, is well known. Part of that legacy was his work in helping Priests for Life get started, and his support of Fr. Frank Pavone, whom he ordained and later released to help inspire and motivate clergy across the country. This new Institute started by Priests for Life, and named after the Cardinal, will continue to plant his vision and passion for the defense of life in the hearts and minds of many priests for decades to come. This work deserves the support of all in the Church.”