Contact: Jerry Horn (540) 220-0095
March 23, 2005, Amarillo, Texas. Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, officially announced today that he is founding a pro-life community dedicated to the formation and training of priests, deacons, brothers and seminarians who will devote themselves fully to the proclamation of the Gospel of Life. This initiative will be based in the diocese of Amarillo, Texas, under the authority and stewardship of Bishop John W. Yanta.
"It has been a dream of mine for over a decade to form a community that can accept seminarians who want to devote their entire ministry to the defense of the unborn," said Fr. Pavone. "While there are religious communities that give special emphasis to the right to life, the Church has no 'institutional' society of men whose exclusive focus is to protect innocent human life from the tragedy of abortion and euthanasia. It is time for such a community. I am grateful to Bishop Yanta for allowing me the opportunity to make this dream a reality."
Bishop Yanta, who has served on the Priests for Life Episcopal Board of Advisors since 1998, and who has been particularly devoted to the pro-life cause throughout his priesthood, has already offered several buildings in his diocese that will serve as the center for the new apostolate. "I am excited about supporting Fr. Pavone in venturing forth, with and through the Holy Spirit, in the establishment of a Society of Apostolic Life for priests and seminarians dedicated to pro-life ministry - an immense need at this time in history," said Bishop Yanta today. "The Lord has provided several vacant buildings that once served as a Christian Brothers High School with boarding facilities, a chapel, gym, and spacious grounds. The Diocese of Amarillo is happy to make these available (at no cost) to Priests for Life and the proposed Society of Apostolic Life."
This society of apostolic life, while drawing on the spirit and mission of the Priests for Life organization, will be a completely separate entity, known as Missionaries of the Gospel of Life. Priests for Life will continue to exist as an association of the Christian faithful under Canon Law, and Fr. Pavone will continue to serve as its National Director. In order to initiate the historic formation of this pro-life community of priests, deacons, brothers and seminarians, Fr. Pavone has officially become a priest of the Diocese of Amarillo, and will begin assembling a formation team for the community. Priests for Life is also in the process of establishing a headquarters in the diocese, but will continue to maintain its current offices and staff in New York, Washington D.C., Virginia, California, and Rome, Italy.
"This is a pivotal moment in time," said Fr. Pavone. "Throughout the history of the Church, God has intervened in times of great moral crisis and has raised up within His Church the charisms necessary to address those crises. I have long been convinced that God is raising up numerous disciples ready to devote their entire lives to ending the tragedy of abortion, which the bishops have identified as the 'fundamental human rights issue of our day.' I have no doubt that we will see a tremendous and immediate response to this initiative."
Fr. Pavone announced that men considering joining this community can attend a discernment retreat he will conduct on June 24-26 in Amarillo. There will also be a seminarians' pro-life conference in Newark, NJ from August 16-21, during which Fr. Pavone will also discuss the new community. Those interested in the community may contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bishops from around the world praised the historic effort.
From Denver, Colorado, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said: "Under Father Frank Pavone’s leadership, Priests for Life has been a tireless and important national voice defending the sanctity of human life. In supporting Fr. Pavone’s new initiative, Bishop Yanta and the people of the Diocese of Amarillo are offering a vital service to Catholics throughout the United States."
From St. Louis, Missouri, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke said: "I have received with great joy the news of the foundation of a priestly society of apostolic life dedicated to the apostolate of the respect for human life. In every time period, the Holy Spirit has inspired founders of institutes of the consecrated life and societies of apostolic life, so that the spiritual needs of the Church and world might be more fully addressed. Surely, there is a great need in our time for a priestly society dedicated to the conversion of our culture of death and the promotion of a civilization of life. The work of the Priests for Life and its National Director, Father Frank Pavone, has surely prepared the way for the timely foundation of the priestly society of apostolic life. I commend Bishop John W. Yanta for his pastoral vision and generosity in inviting Father Pavone to make the new foundation in the Diocese of Amarillo. I pray that God will bless abundantly Bishop Yanta, Father Pavone and the new foundation."
From Phoenix, Arizona, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted praised Priests for Life: "[This organization] has offered a courageous and articulate proclamation of the Gospel of Life for a number of years. While standing strong in the defense of every human life, it has offered persuasive reasons for respecting the dignity of each person, especially the most vulnerable and innocent among us."
From Rome, Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said: " In today’s world, the idea of a new religious community founded for the purpose of working to protect human life may seem like a sign of contradiction—but it may just be what the world of today needs! The call to protect life is not only a foundation of our faith as Catholics, but it is the very basis of our recognition of human rights and the right to life. The human dignity with which we have been endowed by God binds us together as members of the one family."