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Priests for Life Newsletter

Volume 3 Number 1


The Best Day of My Life New PFL Leadership and Publicity
From the Lips of Children and Babes Board of Advisors
Reflection on Mary and the Pro-Life Movement Homily Hints
Statement of Purpose Dr. Seuss and Pro-Life
Short Clips Bulletin Inserts Save Two Lives
The Prayer of the Pilgrim Church: That They May Have Life I Thought All Priests Were "For Life"
Attention Adopters

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 made possible.

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!

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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 would enjoy.

 "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.

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 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.

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 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, PO Box 236695, Cocoa, FL 32923. Phone: 321-500-1000 , Fax: 321-225-8271.

To join Priests for Life, please complete the form and mail to the address below:

Enclosed is my check or money order ($15.00) for a one-year membership in Priests for Life.





Priests for Life

PO Box 236695 Cocoa, FL 32923

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Short Clips

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, PO Box 236695, Cocoa, FL 32923.

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 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.

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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 Region.

 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 battle!

 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!

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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

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 Homily Hints

 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 pro-life homilies.

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.

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New Brochure

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 at all.

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

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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.

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"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.


Attention, Adopters!

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 PO Box 236695, Cocoa, FL 32923. 

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Priests for Life
PO Box 236695 • Cocoa, FL 32923
Tel. 321-500-1000, Toll Free 888-735-3448 •