Like a commanding general, Fr. Frank Pavone lifted the morale of troops in the trenches of the pro-life movement in Phoenix during a visit last month.
The priest, the national director of Priests for Life, was the featured speaker of the Blackstone Fellowship, a nine-week leadership development program for students who are both Christians and aspiring lawyers.
Fr. Pavone, whose organization works to end abortion, encouraged students June 17 to use their talents to shape public policy and restore the culture of life.
"Either life wins, or no one wins," said Fr. Pavone, who is on the road about 80 percent of the time conducting pro-life strategy seminars and speaking at national and international pro-life gatherings.
He encouraged them to use one-on-one conversations to help pro-choice opponents see the truth.
Through his efforts Norma McCorvey, the former "Jane Roe" of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion, became Catholic and now leads the pro-life ministry "Roe No More."
University of Notre Dame student Courtney Tawresey, 23, one of 84 national fellows, said she was moved by Fr. Pavone’s passionate defense of life, which she said was "a calling put on my heart before I even knew Christ."
Although raised in an atheist family, Tawresey entered the Catholic Church on Easter. In college, she became involved in the pro-life movement and hopes to use a law degree to help others see that the "right to privacy and the right to choose" are destroying society.
She plans to make it her life’s work. She is discerning religious life with Sisters of Life, an order based in Bronx, N.Y., and founded in 1991, that is devoted exclusively to the protection of human life.
Supporting the grassroots
Following his speech to America’s future lawyers, Fr. Pavone spoke to 40 Arizona Right to Life volunteers, including a handful from Tucson, at the organization’s Phoenix headquarters.
He encouraged the group to engage churches in the presidential election and the fight against abortion.
"At the core of every human rights issue is the right to life itself," he said. "Without life, we don’t have anything at all."
This election year, abortion should be on the mind of every American, not just those with religious convictions, Fr. Pavone said. He argues that "it is indisputable" what abortion does: kill.
"If you elect people who are going to let this continue you might as well elect somebody who says they support terrorism," he said. "We must challenge them to show us the difference between a person blown apart by a bomb and a person torn apart by the instruments of the abortionists."
Arizona Right to Life president John Jakubczyk said the impromptu visit reinvigorated his staff and volunteers.
"He’s one of the top pro-life leaders in the country," Jakubczyk said. "By having him take the time to speak to the grassroots, it reminded them how important they are to the success of the movement. Without individuals who are willing to sacrifice their time for the cause, those babies die."