Priests for Life Newsletter
Volume 3 Number 1
C O N T E N T S
Note: The following essay was written by a Catholic
high school senior as a class assignment.
The Best Day of My Life
by Mark Swendsen
Ben entered my life almost two years ago. That was the best day of my
life--not because of the fun I crammed into it, but because of the joy it has
Mine is a large family--there are currently 12 of us. When I first heard
about Ben, I was perturbed. Of course, we had been asked to adopt children
before--most of the children in my family were adopted. But this was different
not because we had so many people already, or because we didn't want another
baby, but because Ben has Downs' Syndrome. Since our parents included us
children in the decision-making process, and the approval of all or the veto of
one would determine whether or not Ben became one of us. I felt a tremendous
burden. How could I vote yes or no? My future, his future, my family's future
all rested on my vote.
I voted yes. Why? All my life I've strived to live my life for and with God.
And it took just half a second to figure out what God wanted of me.
People say: "Wow! It must take a lot of courage to adopt a kid like that."
No, it doesn't. What does take courage is for parents to swallow their pride and
have enough humility to come to another family and ask them to take their child,
because they know they can't provide for their child as that other family can.
Ben is walking now and beginning to talk--quite ahead of what was expected of
him. His physical therapist says it's because of the stimulation he gets in our
family. It looks like his natural parents made the right choice.
Ben is the happiest little bugger--he never cries or yells. All day long he
generates joy and warmth and happiness. His good-naturedness lets you feel good
about yourself and life in general. His gap-toothed smile makes you contemplate
the power God has to make some things perfect.
Ben has made me appreciate life in a way no one else has. I remember a
discussion about abortion one day in morality class. One student raised his hand
and said that he thought that if a fetus were found to be mentally defective or
physically retarded, it should he aborted. I raised my hand quickly to respond
and told my classmate how wrong he was. I told him that being mentally retarded
has no bearing on your ability to be happy, to create happiness, or to reflect
God. I shouted through my tears that being different is not wrong, and that each
human life is valuable. I had to leave the room to compose myself. That is Ben's
effect on me.
The day we got Ben marked the beginning of new understanding for me, a new
way of life, a new future for myself and for all who will come into contact with
him. Ben is truly a blessing!
From the Lips of Children and of Babes
Each year the San Francisco Archdiocesan Respect Life Commission sponsors a
writing contest for school children. We share with you just a couple of examples
of themes submitted for this year's contest on the theme, "Life God's Gift from
Mom to Me." They display a beguiling and endearing simplicity we thought you
"If I didn't have any Mom, I would not be born. I would not have a school,
no friends, no bat, no ball, no name, or Dad, no brother, no cousin, and no God
and Jesus and Mary and Joseph. Thanks, Mom, for giving me life!"
--Daniel Mullens, Grade 1, St. Dominic's School, S.F.
"I'm very grateful to God for creating my mom. She has given me love,
attention, understanding and a lot more. Without her I never would have been
brought into this world. Without her I never would be able to see the ocean,
feel the warm sunlight shine on my face. I couldn't hear the birds sing, smell
the wonderful flowers of spring, or taste cold ice cream on a hot summer day!"
--Jenny Jayme, Grade 6, St. Monica's School, S.F.
Reflection on Mary and the Pro-life Movement
by Fr. Frank Pavone
In his General Audience of July 7, the Holy Father urged his brother priests
to nourish true devotion to Mary "and to draw its practical consequences for
their life and ministry."
What does the Virgin Mary say to our pro-life ministry?
Mary was firmly rooted in the truth and in charity. When she received
Gabriel's message and learned she would be the mother of God, she did not lose
sight of the pressing needs of her kinswoman Elizabeth. She undertook the
arduous journey to the hill country, and tended to Elizabeth's needs for three
months. Mary kept in touch with both heavenly and earthly reality. The truth of
her new status did not distract her from Elizabeth's needs. Mary responded to
those needs in a very practical way. The same happened at Cana. The celebration
there in company with Christ and the Apostles did not blind her to the real
needs of the newlyweds. And she responded.
Pro-life ministry is rooted in truth and charity. We do not allow the truth
to be eclipsed: the truth about the child and his/her personhood; the truth
about the mother and her needs; the truth about the devastating effects of
abortion on the child and the mother. Pro-lifers are people of reality. We face
up to the torn limbs and salt-poisoned bodies. We know of the punctured wombs
and the infections. We respond to the real needs of real children and their
mothers. We provide these mothers with the concrete medical, financial,
psychological, and spiritual help they need. Nothing distracts us. This is
Marian pro-life ministry.
There is an axiom in psychiatry that says, "Believe behavior." See what the
speaker does. The "pro-choice" (pro-abortion) movement masks over reality, and
for all its rhetoric leaves women only three things: a scarred mind, a wounded
body, and a dead baby. The pro-life movement, through more than 3000 helping
centers throughout the nation, offers women real help in their need, and the
gift of life. We learned this from a very special Mother.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE:
Priests for Life is a 501 (c) (3) organization committed to providing
information and materials of an educational nature to enable the clergy better
to support and promote the Church's teachings on the life issues. Priests for
Life has chapters in various dioceses and publishes a regular newsletter. Full
membership (with voting privileges) in PFL is open to priests and deacons upon
payment of annual dues. Lay Catholics and religious are cordially invited to
support this work by their prayers and contributions, and by becoming auxiliary
members. Annual dues for both classes of membership is a modest $15.00. Please
contact us regarding group rates or for bulk mailings to provide copies for all
the priests of your diocese.
As a 501 (c) (3) organization, contributions to PFL are tax deductible.
For more information, please write to Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director,
PFL, P.O. Box 141172, Staten Island, NY 10314. Phone: (718) 980-4400 , Fax:
To join Priests for Life, please complete the form and mail to the address
Enclosed is my check or money order ($15.00) for a one-year membership in
Priests for Life.
Priests for Life
P.O. Box 141172 Staten Island, NY 10314
Dr. Janet E. Smith, associate professor of the Philosophy Department of the
University of Dallas, has been actively engaged in promoting the study and
discussion of Humanae Vitae both in her writings and by taking to
the road as a speaker at many of the conferences convened this year in honor of
the encyclical's 25th Anniversary. She has written a major book on the
encyclical, Humanae Vitae: A Generation Later, (Wash., D.C.: CUA
Press, 1991) which presents a comprehensive review of the controversy
surrounding the document and analyzes the work from theological and
philosophical perspectives. She has also edited a volume of collected writings
by the foremost supporters of the encyclical: Why Humanae Vitae was Right
(San Francisco: Ignatius Press 1993). Finally she has produced a new and
extremely accurate translation of
Humanae Vitae from the Latin original. Dr. Smith's translation
includes a useful introduction and commentary and is reprinted in each of the
above mentioned volumes, as well as being available in pamphlet form for $2
from: New Hope Publications, 3050 Gap Knob Road, New Hope, Kentucky 40052.
Several groups of priests (in Chicago, New York, and Louisiana) have
contacted us about forming local chapters of PFL. In forthcoming issues we will
report on their activities. In the meantime, we encourage others to do the same.
For information about how to form a PFL chapter write to Rev. Frank Pavone, P.O.
Box 141172, Staten Island, NY 10314.
Excerpts from homily,
"The Prayer of the Pilgrim Church: That They May Have Life"
by Archbishop John R. Quinn October 3, 1993
Abortion is and remains the axe at the root of human rights. When the right
to life in the mother's womb is no longer sacred, no other rights will enjoy
inviolability. Reasons will be found to justify their violation.
The Church's response to this shocking tragedy must be manifold:
— It must open space in the public debate for the moral voice to be heard.
It must speak the moral truth clearly, firmly and courteously in the face of
tremendous opposition and ridicule.
— It must root its effort in prayer, persevering and trusting prayer. God can
change hearts and attitudes.
- It must support in every way possible all efforts to provide alternatives
to abortion. Large numbers of women who have abortions say that they would
not have had them if they thought there was an alternative. Yet those who
espouse "freedom of choice" work very strongly against "freedom of
information" and oppose giving women counseling that would include
alternatives to abortion and giving information that would explain what
abortion is and how it is done.
- It must work through the legitimate processes for laws that will eliminate
abortion or at least reduce its availability.
- Violence is not the path of the Gospel. Violence is not the path of the
Church. Efforts against abortion must not resort to violence.
New PFL Leadership and Publicity
Priests for Life recently held elections for new leadership as Fr.
Lee Kaylor, Fr. Bob Cipriano, and Fr. Bob Kiefer completed their terms of
office. The gratitude of all Priests for Life goes to these three priests for
laying the foundation of this important work.
At a Priests for Life Mass held at St. Mary's Cathedral, San Francisco, on
October 7, 1993, Fr. Cipriano announced that the new National Director of
Priests for Life is Fr. Frank A. Pavone of the Archdiocese of New York. Fr.
Pavone was ordained by Cardinal O'Connor in 1988 and has been given permission
by the Cardinal to work full time in pro-life ministry with Priests for Life.
The Associate National Director is Fr. James Heyd, parochial vicar of St.
Philomena parish in Chicago. He will assist in the continued growth of Priests
for Life throughout the nation, and will co-ordinate activities of the Midwest
Recently, Fr. Pavone and Fr. Heyd met for a week in Chicago with priests,
bishops, and a wide range of pro-life groups to spread the word about Priests
for Life. They were received with great enthusiasm. The laity are excited about
this effort; they need to know their priests are with them in the pro-life
Meetings were also held with Helen Alvare of the Bishops' Secretariat for
Pro-Life Activities, and she is willing to help Priests for Life to be
coordinated with the activities and resources of the Secretariat.
Fr. Pavone also spent a couple of weeks meeting with priests and other
prolife leaders in the San Francisco Bay Area, and found the same spirit of
grateful enthusiasm regarding Priests for Life. Further trips are being planned
for Steubenville, Ohio, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and various locations in
Texas. Priests for Life wants to be a bridge between the clergy and the many
good programs and activities being done by local pro-life groups. Often the
priest does not have the time to sort out or even know about the many pro-life
initiatives taking place. Through this newsletter, priests will be informed of
these initiatives in a succinct way, and will learn how they can support them.
Pro-life groups are invited to send information on their activities to the
Priests for Life office.
Regarding publicity, Fr. Pavone has sent articles about Priests for Life to
every diocesan and national Catholic paper in the United States. (If you have
not seen anything in your own, you may want to request that they carry it. We
can provide copies.) Television interviews have also been done. In fact, Fr.
Pavone is producing regular pro-life shows for cable access T.V. If you can get
them on your local community station, let us know and we can send tapes! Special
videos are also available specifically for priests, concerning how they can more
effectively preach and act on abortion. Besides this newsletter, Priests for
Life is prepared to send priests sample homilies and bulletin inserts on
abortion and euthanasia. These can be sent in quantity as well, only for the
cost of postage. Let's get the word out, and let's do it NOW!
Board of Advisors
Alfonso Cardinal Lopez Trujillo
President, Pontifical Council for the Family
Most Reverend John L. May
Most Reverend Daniel E. Sheehan
Most Reverend John J. Myers
Most Reverend Rene Gracida
Most Reverend Juan Fremiot Torres
Most Reverend Albert H. Ottenweller
Most Reverend Paul V. Donovan
Most Reverend James Timlin
Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput O.F.M. Cap.
Most Reverend J. Quinn Weitzel M.M..
Most Reverend George Lynch
Most Reverend John F. Donoghue
Most Reverend Francis Quinn
Most Reverend James Sullivan
Most Reverend James Niedergesses
National Director: Rev. Frank Pavone
Associate National Director: Rev. Jim Heyd
Editor: Mary Ann Eiler
Fr. Frank A. Pavone
Full homilies are available from Priests for Life, and some will be printed
in the newsletters. Here, however, are some general hints for developing
1) The Golden Rule is a perfect argument against abortion . . . Do not do to
others what you dislike (Tobit 4: 15); do to others as you would have them do to
you (Mt. 7:12). Who would want to have been aborted?
2) We are called to love and help those who have no help. Most women have
abortions because they feel there is no other choice. Can we be Good Samaritans
by developing local outreach to pregnant women in need?
3) The Eucharist is the victory of life over death! "Dying you destroyed our
death." Christ Himself is the Life (Jn. 14:6). To stand with God in Christ is to
stand with life and against death in all its forms.
An attractive new brochure about Priests for Life will soon be available.
Please write to us to order them. They are excellent to distribute at priests'
gatherings, in mailings, or to laity who can pass it on to their priests.
Dr. Seuss and Pro-Life
A good piece to use for children (and the rest of us) in speaking about
pro-life comes right from Dr. Seuss:
If we didn't have birthdays, you wouldn't be you.
If you'd never been born, well then what would you do?
If you'd never been born, well then what would you be? You might be a fish!
Or a toad in a tree! You might be a doorknob! Or three baked potatoes!
You might be a bag full of hard green tomatoes.
Or worse than all that . . . Why, you might be a WASN'T! A Wasn't has no fun
No, he doesn't. A Wasn't just isn't. He just isn't present.
But you . . . You ARE YOU! And, now isn't that pleasant!
From Happy Birthday to You!
by Dr. Seuss
Bulletin Inserts Save Two Lives
What are you willing to do to save a life'? Would you put an insert in the
bulletin about abortion if you knew a life would be saved as a result? Fr. Frank
Pavone put an insert entitled "Abortion: A Choice Against Women" in his parish
bulletin. In the following week he was told that two women who had been
considering abortion changed their minds when they read the insert. It's that
simple. These inserts are available from Priests for Life.
"I Thought All Priests Were For Life"
Yes, by ordination and by the very call to be Christian, all priests are "for
life." The title "Priests for Life" needs to be properly understood. It's like
"Sisters of Charity" ---that title does not mean that some religious are not
called to have charity. Similarly, Priests for Life does not mean that some
priests are not called to be pro-life. It does not mean that the fight against
abortion, euthanasia, and the whole culture of death, can be waged only by some
priests. Rather, "Priests for Life" means to convey that a pro-life commitment
is ESSENTIAL to priesthood, and seeks to help ALL priests activate that
commitment in whatever form of ministry they exercise.
Priests will more and more encounter couples wanting to adopt children. Joan
Andrews Bell invites you to send her the names and addresses of such couples.
Through "Adoption Alliance," couples are making the loving decision to adopt
children, including those who have special physical needs. Please write to
Adoption Alliance, 303 Madison St., Hoboken, NJ 07030.
Please note. The Priests for Life headquarters is now in New York, at P.O.
Box 141172, Staten Island, NY 10314.
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