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Priests for Life Newsletter

Volume 6, Number 6
November - December 1996 

clergyandseminariansnonumberb.jpg (44760 bytes)Contents

"Priest Profiles: Fr. Eugene C. Brissette"-Anthony DeStefano

The Holy Hands of Holy Orders

"Chicago Priests for Life"-Fr. James F. Heyd

"Homily Hints: Interfering"

"From the Director-Encouragement in Troubled Times"

"Incest Victim Chooses Life"

More Dioceses Host Priests for Life


Priest Profiles: Fr. Eugene C. Brissette

In its five year history, Priests for Life has been blessed with many fine and loyal supporters -- individuals who have helped us with their prayers, their words of encouragement, and their financial contributions. But once in a while, someone comes along whose sacrifice on our behalf is so heroic, we must bring him to the attention of our membership. Fr. Eugene C. Brissette is such a person.

Fr. Eugene is a 76 year old Jesuit living in Weston, Mass. He celebrated his 45th anniversary of ordination on June 16, 1996. Fr. "B", as he is often called, is suffering from a debilitating muscular disease known as polimyositis, which causes a painful inflammation of all the muscular tissues of the body. It is a truly crippling ailment: Fr. Eugene has virtually lost the use of both hands, he cannot walk, and he suffers from excruciatingly painful headaches. Still, he manages to concelebrate Mass every day from a wheelchair.

Fr. Eugene has written to us numerous times, expressing his desire to offer up his suffering to God for the sake of Priests for Life. When he has someone to help him, he dictates his letters; when no one is around, he tries to scratch them out himself. These letters, barely legible, contain a wealth of spiritual wisdom and love. On one occasion this summer, he wrote to Fr. Pavone:

"Father, I encourage you with every fiber of my being to carry on the truly marvelous and necessary work you are doing. Whatever beneficial value there is in the pain I have each day, I ask the Divine Lord, who gave me life, to use it for you in the most fruitful way possible…Remember, Fr. Pavone, you are in my daily Mass and prayers."

In attaching his daily physical and emotional pain to the cross, Fr. Eugene serves as a shining example to a world that has totally lost touch with the redemptive value of suffering. For that, and for the tremendous amount of graces that God has bestowed on Priests for Life as a direct result of his sacrifice, we are truly grateful.

Thank you, Fr. Eugene, and God bless you!


The Holy Hands of Holy Orders

The following reflection was read at a Mass in New Orleans which Fr. Pavone celebrated recently. He told the large congregation that he would share it with all the priests.


Our Beloved Priest:

Look at the palms of your hands and remember back to that day when your Bishop anointed them and sent you forth to love and serve us . . . .

Remember the plans you had that day to gather and minister to your people?

Think back to the babies these hands have baptized . . . . Think of the children these hands have prepared for First Communion . . . . Think of the hundreds of sermons these hands have written; carefully chosen words that transformed lives . . . . Think of the countless times these hands have been held up in blessing and forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Now think of your last Mass, and so many others, when you took plain bread and wine into these hands, and changed them into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ . . . .Think of these hands that gave us that Precious Body and Blood . . . . Think of the hands, young and nervous, which your hands have joined in the Sacrament of Matrimony . . . . Think of the sick in mind and body who have come to you seeking help and left with hope alive in their hearts again . . . . Think of the dying bodies these hands have anointed into Paradise.

Today, we anoint your hands anew with our love; with the love of your entire Catholic family. If ever, in the days ahead, you feel lonely and discouraged, please remember these words. Please hold up your hands and look at them, and remember how they fed us the Bread of Life, how they brought hope back into our lives, how they comforted us, healed us, and welcomed us home to our Church again.

We wish we could take you by the hand and stand at the busiest intersection in town and shout to the world, "Look everyone - This is Our Beloved Priest in whom we are well pleased."

These hands of yours are the hands of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. We reverence them and we cannot live our lives without them . . . . without YOU. Thank you for faithfully loving and serving us. We are so proud that you are Our Beloved Priest!


Chicago Priests for Life

Good News from the Windy City! On Sunday, July 21, the local Chicago chapter of Priests for Life reconvened at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center. Our local chapter began about three years ago as Priests for Life was growing around the country.

This summer we recommitted ourselves to furthering pro-life evangelization. Ten priests came to our meeting, although a good number more of our brother priests are members or are committed to see our work expand.

The new leadership includes: Fr. Tony Talarico, Executive Secretary; and Co-Directors, Fr. Charles Fannelli (Past Respect Life Director of the Archdiocese of Chicago) and Fr. Tom Koys. The Chicago chapter looks forward to having these priests guide us through the coming years.

The Chicago chapter will work closely with the Archdiocesan Respect Life Office to promote pro-life initiatives. In addition, it is our hope that an advisory board of priests be established to consult our group and to report to Cardinal Bernardin.

Our Chicago chapter has made progress in several areas. We have helped articulate the Gospel of life; we have promoted pro-life holy hours; we have raised money for a crisis pregnancy center; we have supported many pro-life laity, and we have helped brother priests be introduced to the myriad pro-life organizations and activities. We hope that many more priests will join us on one level or another and bring to us their talents and insight.

We want to be a positive leaven to support our brother priests, and the local church in pro-life evangelization. Pro-life work is a joyful yet arduous task: we need prayer and support especially among brother priests. It is a real blessing to see priests from around the country coming together to encourage one another. Chicago Priests for Life will do its part to foster this spirit of prayer and support.

by Fr. James F. Heyd




The Priests for Life office is receiving more invitations than ever to give pro-life training seminars to the priests, deacons, seminarians, and laity of various dioceses. Fr. Pavone makes an average of three trips a week to various parts of the country. Fr. Hogan is also traveling continually.

Recently, for example, the Archdiocese of San Antonio hosted a clergy seminar at which Fr. Pavone was welcomed by Archbishop Patrick Flores. During the same weeks, Bishop John McCarthy welcomed him to the Diocese of Austin to speak at their annual pro-life conference. Other dioceses recently hosting Priests for Life for conferences, retreats, or seminars include Atlanta, Charleston, SC, Kansas City in Kansas, Palm Beach, Buffalo, Denver, and many others. Feedback has been unanimously and overwhelmingly positive.

In 1997 we will begin special, more intensive follow-up seminars for individual priests. Fathers, please contact us for more information!



We recommend these intentions as you pray the Liturgy of the Hours:

November intention:

"That those in the media and entertainment industry may promote respect for the dignity of the human person."

December intention:

"That medical students may firmly reject the ethic of abortion and euthanasia."



"You are to love your neighbor as yourself" (Mt.22:39).

Our Lord clearly teaches us that if we do not love our neighbor, we do not love God. We are called, furthermore, to love our neighbor as ourselves. This does not simply mean that we love the other "to the same extent" as ourselves. There are, in fact, certain ways in which we have to give others priority over ourselves, and certain other ways in which our obligations to ourselves have priority over others.

"Love your neighbor as yourself" means to love him/her as a person like yourself. In other words, we are to see the other as equal in dignity, even if that might not be apparent by the neighbor’s size, strength, or health. We are to recognize the neighbor as a brother, as a sister.

Anyone in need is our neighbor, as the Lord makes clear in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (LK.10:29-37). To love the neighbor means that when our neighbors are in danger or in need we try to help them, and if we can’t help them at least we speak up for them. The worst offense, short of actually doing the harm ourselves, is to ignore them, to fail to recognize them as a neighbor. This is to fail to love them as persons like ourselves.

Here we can understand why we have a right and duty to intervene on behalf of the crime victim, the war victim, the drug victim, the AIDS victim, the victim of starvation or any kind of injustice. We may not know their names; we may not have seen their faces. Yet love causes us to recognize them as our neighbors; love causes us to recognize that we are responsible for their lives.

Why, then, is it so hard for some to understand that we must intervene to help the abortion victim? Most people are against abortion and would never have one, but do not want to "interfere" in another person’s choice. When we speak up against crime and drugs we are praised; when we speak up against abortion we are told, "Mind your own business!" But isn’t our business the business of love? When someone’s choice interferes with someone else’s life, that’s everybody’s business!

Who are the children scheduled to die tomorrow morning from abortion? Are they just someone else’s choice, someone else’s problem, someone else’s business? Or are they your brothers and sisters? Never be ashamed to speak up for them and work to protect them. You are simply loving your neighbor as yourself!



Encouragement in Troubled Times


My Brother Priests,

Need I tell you that these are troubled times, especially when it comes to the eclipse of conscience regarding the value of human life? Yet we are ordained to be ministers of encouragement. "He comforts us in all our afflictions, and thus enables us to comfort those who are in trouble, with the same consolation we have received from Him" (2 Cor. 1:4).

Priests for Life is a ministry of encouragement specifically in the pro-life dimensions of our priesthood. In that area I offer a few reflections.

      ΠProphets and Kings. Many people are frustrated by the channels of government which do not seem to bring about much protection for the children in the womb, the only group declared "non-persons" under the law. Yet such frustration must lead to an even stronger prophetic witness. It is precisely when people in authority do not govern with justice that the People of God must be present and exercise the prophetic role given them in baptism and strengthened by Confirmation. As the prophets of old spoke to kings, so must we continue to bring the Word of the Lord into legislatures and courts all over this land. Truth has more power over the human heart than any political force.

       Chemical killing. Abortion by the RU-486 and other chemical techniques is getting more attention, and must be addressed. Do not fall for the line of the pro-abortion forces that it will drastically change the abortion battle. First of all, if chemical abortions could replace surgical abortions, it would have happened already by means of abortifacient drugs that have been widely available for years. Second, the chemical techniques can be used only by a limited segment of the population and only in a very limited time-frame of the pregnancy. Third, where chemical techniques are available, most choose not to use them. In France, for example, only 25 to 30 percent of women seeking abortion choose RU-486 (See American Medical News, April 12, 1993). Fourth, if women who want to use these drugs can find out where they are administered, so can we...and we will be there to pray and counsel and demonstrate and defend those scheduled to die. Fifth, our message and goal remain the same: the child in the womb has a right to life and is to be recognized and treated as a person. The manner in which the child is destroyed must not be confused with the question of the status of that child, which is precisely the crux of the controversy and which remains unchanged.

      Ž Assisted suicide. If life is abortable at one stage, its inherent worth has been denied at every stage. The step from abortion to assisted suicide is a smaller step than was the step to legalize abortion in the first place. We must be steadfast in calling of the protection of life at every stage, in exposing the myths surrounding assisted suicide and in providing compassionate alternatives. Life in vulnerable circumstances calls for more care, not for killing!

      My brother priests, now is the time more than ever that the Gospel of Life can attract our people and shatter the darkness all around us. We are the ones charged to preach that Gospel. In doing so all around the country I can tell you, we have no need to be afraid. Our Lord told us that the Gates of Hell would not prevail against the Church (Mt.16:18). A gate does not go out on the battlefield to attack the enemy. A gate stands to defend the city against the enemy attacking it! Our Lord’s words do not put the Church in a defensive position. On the contrary, He calls us to take the initiative and to storm the gates of death! Death flees in the presence of life! Error flees in the presence of truth! Sin flees in the presence of grace! Take the Gospel with which you have been entrusted and proclaim it with confidence! Its power will not disappoint us. God bless you and keep in touch with us!


Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director


Incest Victim Chooses Life

Following are excerpts from a letter received at our office:

My father abandoned my mother when I was an infant. At 13, never having had contact with him all those years, I was suddenly forced to go live with him, a man who was to me a total stranger.

Within months, he raped me, a brutal and heartbreaking experience for a 13 year old virgin. The incest continued for years. Inevitably, I became pregnant.

My father urged me to abort the baby. Of course, he wanted to protect himself.

I agonized over this possibility.

I knew that this child wanted to be born!

The baby was born perfect.

Oh, I want to share with sorrowful young mothers everywhere, no child is unlovely no matter the circumstance of conception. If only I had known then how easily caring, loving help can be found!

My strong and beautiful son is now 18, a freshman in college, and just this Easter Baptized Catholic, at home in The Faith.

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