Planned Parenthood may have two “P’s,” but those attending the 35th annual Respect Life Dinner in Peoria on Oct. 2 were given five “P” words with which to promote and defend the sanctity of all human life: prayer, persuasion, political responsibility, presence, and perseverance.
“The other side wants the public to think that we’re condemning people,” said Father Denis Wilde, OSA, associate director of Priests for Life and the keynote speaker at the event that drew more than 150 people to Barrack’s Cater Inn at the close of Respect Life Sunday.
“But we’re not going to go there,” said Father Wilde. “What we’re about is helping and loving people.”
Father Wilde explained the many ways that his organization, Priests for Life, is offering such help and support, including through the post-abortion healing ministry Rachel’s Vineyard, legislative efforts, civil rights arguments and use of the latest technology.
While Priests for Life was founded to galvanize the clergy to preach, teach, and mobilize their people more effectively in the effort to end abortion and euthanasia, it is now an “umbrella” organization with diverse ministries serving — and led by — both clergy and laity.
“I like it that way,” said Father Wilde, who celebrated weekend Masses at St. Jude Parish in Peoria and spoke to students at Peoria Notre Dame High School on Monday. “It’s the way the church is.”
PUT THE “P” WORDS INTO PRACTICE
Father Wilde thanked local pro-lifers for the “wonderful things” he saw while in Peoria — including the Family Resources Center and the Women’s Care Center. He then called on all involved in promoting the sanctity of human life to put five “p” words into practice, including:
•Prayer. Pray every day, he said, for the unborn, for distraught mothers, for the conversion of those in the abortion industry, and for elected officials. Especially encouraging frequent Mass attendance and the rosary, Father Wilde led the dinner crowd in praying an “Election Prayer for Life” written by Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life.
•Persuasion. “The words we use are extremely important,” said Father Wilde, saying they should not tolerate words such as “choice” but expose what the choice really is by asking three questions: 1) Is it human? 2) Can I kill it?, and 3) do you know of any human being that is not a person?
•Political responsibility. “The right to vote is wonderful,” said Father Wilde, “but the responsibility is just as important.” “It’s very important that we vote pro-life and we vote religious liberty.”
•Presence. It is vital to be personally present to a woman hinting she is considering an abortion and to be physically present at abortion facilities to say “there is an injustice going on here.” He praised efforts such as 40 Days for Life, now under way.
•Perseverance. Father Wilde pointed to the day’s Mass readings in which St. Paul urged Timothy to stir into flame the gifts of the Spirit of God that give us power, love and self-control. Find hope in the Resurrection, he urged. “Brothers and sisters, we’re on the march. We’re a people at war.”
UPDATES ON LOCAL EFFORTS
The night’s invocation was given by Sister Sara Kowal, SCTJM, a theology teacher and campus minister at Peoria Notre Dame High School, while the closing prayer was offered by Deacon William Read of St. Mary of Lourdes Parish in Metamora.
Updates on local pro-life efforts were offered by Karen Guth (40 Days for Life), Dan Smith (Life Chain), and Christine Dennis (Women’s Care Center). Pete Smith thanked all dinner guests for their support, saying funds raised during the evening help place full page, pro-life ads in the Peoria Journal-Star three times a year and update the library at the Family Resources Center.
Among the political leaders present was U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood (R-18th), who thanked those attending for their commitment to the pro-life cause.
“We have big challenges,” he said, “but with prayers and hard work and people like those in this roome, we can continue to fight to do what’s right.”
Charles Owens of Henry was master of ceremonies, and dinner music was provided by Robert Eckert. Father Wilde, who is also a professional pianist with a doctorate in music from Catholic University of America, ended the program with a rousing medley of patriotic and spiritual songs on piano.