Priests for Life Newsletter
Volume 6, Number 6
November - December 1996
"Priest Profiles: Fr. Eugene C. Brissette"-Anthony
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
Fr. Eugene is a 76 year old Jesuit living in Weston, Mass. He celebrated his
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
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
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
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
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
MORE DIOCESES HOST PRIESTS FOR LIFE
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
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
We recommend these intentions as you pray the Liturgy of the
"That those in the media and entertainment industry may
promote respect for the dignity of the human person."
"That medical students may firmly reject the ethic of
abortion and euthanasia."
HOMILY HINTS: INTERFERING
"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
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!
FROM THE DIRECTOR
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
Œ Prophets 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.
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
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
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
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
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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