DALLAS - Norma McCorvey received the sacraments of holy Communion and confirmation and was fully accepted into the Catholic Church during a private Mass Aug. 17 at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Dallas. Ms. McCorvey, who was the "Jane Roe" of the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized most methods of abortion, was joined by approximately 60 of her family members and close friends from her prolife involvement.
Dominican Father Edward Robinson, who instructed Ms. Mc Corvey for nearly two months, concelebrated the Mass with Father Frank Pavone, international director of Priests For Life and a major player in Ms. McCorvey's conversion to Catholicism. "The first time I interviewed Norma, I began by saying, 'So you are the Jane Roe of Roe vs. Wade.' And she says, 'No, no. I was the Jane Roe of Roe vs. Wade,' " Father Pavone said. "Thanks to the baptism and her confirmation and reception into the Church and her receiving the risen Christ, (her reply) is more true today than ever before."
Ms. McCorvey's entrance into the church concludes a three-year journey that began with her baptism on Aug. 8, 1995, by Rev. Flip Ben ham, director of Operation Rescue National.
From there, increased contact with Catholic prolife leaders both inside and outside the Dallas diocese led her to announce June 15 that she had decided to become a Catholic. Her conversion story as of the end of 1997 is documented in her autobiography, "Won By Love."
According to Father Robinson, he and Ms. McCorvey met for instruction two or three times a week for two months at St. Albert's Priory on the campus of the, University of Dallas in Irving. He said the opportunity to teach in a one-on-one format sped up the learning process.
"She already had a fairly good background in Catholicism. She had been to several Catholic churches in Texas. And she acquired quite a bit of biblical knowledge the three years she was with the fundamentalists," Father Robinson said.
Ms. McCorvey initially had planned, with Father Pavone's help, to enter the church during a special Mass in Rome sometime in the fall, but when the pace of her lessons increased, Father Robinson said they decided on the local, private Mass.
"When you know it's time, it doesn't make sense to delay it," Father Robinson said.
Leading up to her full entrance into the Catholic faith, Ms. McCorvey made her first confession Aug. 10 to Father Robinson.
"Father said he was going to use my book as my confession, so I was brief," she said. "Even though I knew my sins had been washed away from my baptism, I felt a sense of relief afterward."
During the Mass, Father Pavone confirmed her. Lynn Mills, a prolifer from Detroit who first met Ms. McCorvey six months ago, was her sponsor.
For Communion, she knelt at the railing in front of the altar while Father Robinson distributed the bread and wine.
"I started getting cold chills right before I went up. I knew somehow that it was Holy Spirit. Then when I received the flesh of (Christ's) body and his blood, I felt a real sense of inner peace," Ms. McCorvey told The Texas Catholic, Dallas diocesan newspaper.
In a special closing address to the congregation, Father Pavone said that, by her receiving the body and blood of Christ, Ms. McCorvey is reconciled with the babies who were aborted during the time she worked in the movement to keep abortion legal.
The priest told her that every time she receives Communion, Christ is "giving back to you all the babies that were lost through what you did. They are united with his flesh," It added. "He has restored the friend ship between you and the babies who didn't have a chance to play on the playgrounds."
Ms. McCorvey said she still has lot to learn about Catholicism and despite an upcoming lecture tour she will keep in constant touch via e mail with Father Robinson, who noted that she's bound to get many questions about Catholicism.
"When she gets a tough question she will say, 'Give me a day or two to answer,' and I or the local parish priest will help her," he said.
When Ms. McCorvey is back home she plans to spend time fitting in to her new parish of St. Thomas Aquinas.