Priests for Life Newsletter
Volume 7, Number 6
November - December 1997
Priests for Life Office Moves to Staten Island
Priests for Life Website Enjoys Great Popularity
Mother Teresa and Priests for Life
Intentions for Liturgy of the Hours
Words from our Shepherds
Dr. Joseph Stanton Pro-life Library
A Message of Hope after Abortion
Priest Profile: Fr. Jordi Rivero
Priests for Life Office Moves to
And Makes Use of Latest Computer Technology
Although the Priests for Life mailing address and resource
department has always been in Staten Island, NY, the central office has been
located in Port Chester.
Recently, however, office space has become available on Staten Island, and we
will move our main office there. This will eliminate commuting time for a number
of our staff members and will integrate our operations more fully.
Our mailing address, therefore, will be the same (PO Box 141172, Staten
Island, NY 10314). However, please note the new phone numbers: 718-980-4400, and
our new toll-free number 1-888-PFL-3448. These are active as of October 15.
At the same time, we have taken steps to more fully link our branch offices.
Our staff of over 20 people are located in various offices, starting with Fr.
Frank Pavone at the Vatican, several people in our Washington, DC branch, and
others in Dallas, St. Paul, and New Jersey. In order to make sure that all these
staff people can be in full communication, and always have the latest copies of
all documents, we are making use of an office Intranet system. This is,
essentially, a private version of the Internet. During the course of a workday,
a staff member, from his/her computer, has access to all the documents that
other staff members have in all the other offices. When changes are made to a
report, a file, or a database in one place, those changes are immediately
available to the whole staff in every place.
The Church and the pro-life movement have the responsibility to make full use
of the gifts God gives us to communicate His message. Priests for Life will
continue to use the latest technology to assist you in this work!
Priests for Life Website Grows in
AUDIO TALKS TO BE ADDED!
Over 21,000 people visited the Priests for Life website in the last month!
Our site has direct answers to people's questions about how to encourage their
clergy to address the abortion problem, homily and other parish resources for
busy priests who want to break the silence about this tragedy, phone numbers of
crisis pregnancy centers all over the nation, personal messages from Fr. Frank
Pavone in the Vatican, a whole range of newly translated Spanish materials, and
much, much more.
Priests for Life is going to make full use of the audiovisual capabilities of
the Internet, beginning by posting all our audiotapes on our website. Talks by
Fr. Frank Pavone and Fr. Richard Hogan that have inspired pro-lifers all over
the world will now be available at your own computer! Check the site for the
availability of talks like How to Talk About Abortion; Interview with Norma
McCorvey; The Holy Spirit and Abortion; The Virgin Mary's Call to End Abortion;
Challenging Government Leaders to Defend Life; Helping Priests Fight Abortion;
Basic Elements of Preaching on Abortion; and Fr. Pavone's widely acclaimed
Please visit the site and pass on the address to others!! We will be happy to
link to the pages of other pro-life groups. Please let us know of your desire to
Priests for Life and Mother Teresa
With the passing of Mother Teresa from this life, we engage in a period of
reflection upon her message to the world. Priests for Life does this with
gratitude for the personal interest she took in this apostolate. Along with her
passionate conviction about the sanctity of every human life, she had a deep
sense of the special vocation of the priest. She therefore saw Priests for Life
as a logical and deeply needed mission in the Church.
In June of 1994, Fr. Frank Pavone and some of the Priests for Life staff
spent five days in Calcutta, having intensive meetings with Mother Teresa about
abortion and the pro-life movement. She wrote a letter of endorsement, which is
Reflections on the life and work of Mother Teresa characteristically focus on
her "love for the poor." She did love the poor. But her understanding of what
poverty is was much more profound than that of most observers. To grasp it, we
need to appreciate her message about the vocation of the human person. We were
made to love and be loved, she would often remark. To give and receive love is
the calling and greatness of human beings.
The fundamental poverty, then, is to fail to give and receive love. That is
why a society which throws away its children by abortion is poorer than one
which does not have many material resources. The society that permits abortion
fails in its vocation to give love, to welcome the inconvenient person. To fail
to love is poverty. To fail to love to the point where the other person is not
even recognized as a person, and is legally destroyed, is poverty to the
Mother Teresa picked up the dying from the streets of Calcutta with the same
love with which she pulled women away from abortion facilities. Love is
indivisible. It means making room for the other person, whether that person is
in the street or in the womb. It means feeding that person, not just with food
for the body, but with the recognition, attention, and compassion that their
personal dignity demands. This is why those who praise Mother Teresa's work "for
the poor," but do not share her opposition to abortion, simply have failed to
We are called to give and receive love. As we rise above the culture of
death, we will be free of the poverty that fails to welcome our brothers and
sisters. We will, instead, sacrifice ourselves for them, and will discover the
kind of riches which only grow greater the more we give them away.
Following are Mother Teresa's words to Priests for Life (click
here to see actual handwritten letter):
Dear Priests for Life,
I was very happy to meet Fr. Frank Pavone who told me that the Church in the
United States has an association called "Priests for Life".
I hope that many priests and deacons will join the "Priests for Life." This
association needs many members to educate and encourage all the priests and
deacons who must all work together to stop the terrible war against unborn
Often priests and deacons do not know what to say or do to educate their
people about the terrible evil of abortion. I am praying that those who joined
the "Priests for Life" will be able to strengthen and support those priests and
deacons who feel unable to lead their people in the struggle against abortion.
Let us pray.
God bless you,
M. Teresa MC
Our members are encouraged to remember the
intentions when praying the Liturgy of the Hours:
November intention: That the children who are now scheduled to be aborted may
December intention: That God may give eternal rest to the women who died from
Words from our Shepherds
"In our society, the bishop as prophet must be a voice for the voiceless
ones. This is not because he is self-righteous, but because Christ and the
Church have commanded him to do it. He must speak out against injustice in his
society. Yet, he speaks not as a judge but as a healer. If he speaks forcefully,
it is not as a critic, but a conscience. When he speaks about what is possible
he speaks as a voice sent from the future into the present. He always speaks
with hope and faith. The many social ills that plague our society and our
people--the taking of the life of the unborn, poverty, family breakdown,
illiteracy, discrimination, hate-mongering, violence--can seem unsurpassable to
some and inevitable to others. Not to me."
--Bishop John Ricard
Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee
From Installation Homily, March 13, 1997
Dr. Joseph R. Stanton Human Life Issues
and Resource Center Welcomes Pro-Lifers
By Sr. Josamarie Perpetua, S.V., and Sr. Maria Dolorosa, S.V.
Dr. Joseph Stanton, who was recently called from this life,
has been described as "the patriarch of the pro-life movement" as well as its
"chief archivist and historian...A scholar by nature, Dr. Stanton has collected
volumes of press clippings, books, and other materials dealing with abortion and
related topics (euthanasia, genetics, population control, ethics)--(in) what is
perhaps the most complete archival library on the subject." A few years ago, Dr.
Stanton and the Value of Life Committee (of which he is a founder), contacted
the founder of the Sisters of Life, John Cardinal O'Connor, to see if the
recently formed religious community of women would be interested in taking over
The Sisters of Life is a contemplative/active community with
a mission of prayers and works to enhance and defend the sense of the sacredness
of human life, and Cardinal O'Connor agreed that the Value of Life Committee's
extensive collection of materials would fit into the Sisters of Life mission to
evangelize on the sacredness of human life. "(Their) apostolate to protect and
defend human life and to advance a sense of the sacredness of human life
embraces...the provision to scholars, pro-life organizations and other
interested persons and groups a library, resource center and clearinghouse on
human life issues," reads the Sisters of Life founding document.
Dr. Stanton is emphatic that the collection was built by the
loving labor of many tireless volunteers (all of whom are remembered in the
Sisters of Life prayers and Masses!). The Sisters of Life expect to continue to
rely upon the goodness of pro-life people for donations of books, pro-life
materials, newsletters and other periodicals (especially those detaining
pro-life efforts that would not be found in the mainstream press; both
subscriptions and back issues welcome), and volunteer time to support the
Despite Dr. Stanton's humility, the members of the Value of
Life Committee and other dedicated pro-lifers insist that the library be named:
The Dr. Joseph R. Stanton Human Life Issues Library and Resource Center. On
October 12, 1996, more than 100 people gathered for a Mass of Thanksgiving for
the dedication of the library. Afterwards Cardinal O'Connor blessed the library
sign on the outside of the building, Our Lady of New York. (Our Lady of New York
is the name of the apostolic center for the Sisters of Life. It also housed
their convent, a small-scale pregnancy assistance center for women in need of
support, as well as facilities for small retreats, evenings of reflection, and
days of recollection amidst a Bronx neighborhood setting, adjoining the Cardinal
Spellman High School.)
Additional donations of materials from Priests for Life,
Human Life International, the Human Life Foundation, American Life League, the
Couple to Couple League, the Family of the Americas Foundation, Pope Paul VI
Institute, One More Soul, and various religious communities and individuals have
expanded the collection to more than 1,775 books, 100 videotaped, and 250
audiocassette tapes. The library was constructed in the fallout shelter
underneath the chapel Our Lady of New York. "This new resource enter, housed in
a bomb shelter, is dedicated to the protection on life. May the light of truth
emerge from that bomb shelter to help save lives in this troubled world,"
Cardinal O'Connor said.
Three study carrels will assist long-term research among
academics and professionals. An AV room allows interested individuals or groups
to screen videos. The pleasant conference/reading room can be used for training
sidewalk counselors of crisis pregnancy workers, or for pro-life meetings. (Its
first use was by the Legal Center for the Defense of Life with Bishop George
Lynch and Brother Fidelis, CFR, to practice their courtroom testimony in
hearings on the FACE law.) The Dr. Stanton Library and Resource Center will
continue to answer inquiries from students writing research papers; journalists
needing background information (Mr. Nat Hentoff of The Village Voice
credits Dr. Stanton with helping in his investigative reporting on infanticide,
abortion, and other human rights abuses); teachers devising life issues
curricula; and those seeking recommendations on pro-life materials.
Many inquiries will continue to be handled by mail,
telephone, or FAX. The library will be open by appointment. Most of the library
is still being cataloged; however, inquiries and donations may be sent to: The
Dr. Stanton Library, Sisters of Life, 1955 Needham Avenue, Bronx, NY 10466.
Telephone (718) 881-8008; FAX (718) 654-2911. (Sr. Josamarie Perpetua, S.V.,
and Sr. Maria Dolorosa, S.V., are the Director of the Dr. Stanton Library and
the Assistant Director.)
A Message of Hope
By Catherine MacFarlane
Assistant to the Director/Outreach Coordinator
"Abortion destroys two persons, the life of the child
and the conscience of the mother."
The abortion massacre is a devastating crime on the conscience
of the world. Even if the killing of our unborn were declared illegal tomorrow,
there still would be a major debt to pay. There is a group of victims, the women
and men who have had and participated in abortions, whose cry is often muffled
by fear and shame. They are in need of support in dealing with the depth of
grief, depression, and spiritual repression abortion causes. With the help of
post-abortive ministries that are beginning to form in the pro-life movement,
the testimonies of these women is sounding a hopeful message of healing.
About fifteen years ago, Theresa Karminski-Burke, PhD, came to
understand the desperate need for this ministry. Theresa was working in the
field of eating disorders upon realizing that eight of the ten women in her
group had abortions. It was also made clear that she was not allowed to bring it
up as an issue in therapy. This prompted Theresa to start her own support group
for women suffering from post-abortive stress. Initially her groups were based
only in psychological technique, but because Theresa found abortion to be a
"soul wound", they took on a spiritual aspect also. With this impetus,
Rachel's Vineyard evolved.
Rachel's Vineyard--a Psychological and Spiritual Journey of
Post Abortion Healing, was originally developed by Theresa Burke and an
associate, Barbara Cullen, as a fifteen-step program. Although it is still
utilized in this format, it has also been condensed into a weekend retreat for
women with time restraints.
The weekend retreats, which are held at the Mother House in
Darby, PA include approximately fifteen women suffering from post-abortive
stress, a small "helping" team, and a Catholic priest for spiritual guidance.
During the healing weekend the women participate in rituals modeled after the
Catholic Church which lead them on a journey that follows the life, ministry,
death and resurrection of Christ.
When asked in a personal interview how the intricate and
effective process that her retreats are based on evolved Theresa commented, "I
really believe we were lead by the Holy Spirit because some of the techniques
were almost inspired. In working through the feelings of pain you die to your
sin." She went on to explain that from what her experience lends , a holistic
approach is necessary to the healing process after an abortion. "If the focus is
only on the abortion, many other areas that are in need of healing can be
overlooked. God's mercy can heal all if you allow this light on them."
The positive fruits of Rachel's Vineyard have caused it
to grow into a full-time ministry. Recently, Theresa contacted Priests For Life
for guidance. She specifically came to Priests For Life because they represent
the Catholic Church. Theresa feels, "The act of abortion is morally wrong and
certainly condemned by Canon Law, but the Church seeks to reach out to the
broken body of Christ with love and tenderness."
The need for the Catholic Church's involvement in this ministry
is echoed by many of the women Rachel's Vineyard has touched. It can be
heard in the testimony of one woman who believed the Catholic Church would
reject her because of an abortion, "If only I had heard someone get up in church
and tell me that God wanted to forgive me for what I had done. If only someone
had told me that God did not hate me. Just hearing this would have saved me
sixteen years of living hell. The church needs to advertise that such programs
for us exist."
Rachel's Vineyard is a voice sounding from the Catholic
Church to help many women realize God's mercy, yet more instruments are needed
to deliver this message of hope to these women. The women who have been touched
thus far not only regain a long lost peace, but are using their experience to
benefit other women who have been effected by the lie of abortion. In the words
of Theresa Burke, "That's a sign of healing. When your greatest and ugliest
cross becomes that which you want to share with the whole world!"
For more information on Theresa and her work, contact Catherine
at the Priests for Life main office, 718-980-4400.
Priest Profile -- Fr. Jordi Rivero
by Anthony DeStefano
Fr. Jordi Rivero, Director of the Respect Life Office of the Archdiocese of
Miami, is used to facing situations that require courage.
Along with the rest of his family, he was exiled from his native Cuba when
the Communists took over in the early 1960's. During the Vietnam War, he served
a four year stint in the U.S. Navy. He lived three years in Spain and one year
in the South Pole. He was studying to be an engineer when he experienced the
call to the Priesthood. Eventually, he traveled back to Communist Cuba as a
Fr. Rivero now brings that same spirit of courage to the fight against
abortion. Every week, he speaks to different parishes and pro-life groups in the
Miami archdiocese. He is a firm believer in vigorously and fearlessly
proclaiming the Gospel of Life. "The Pope says all the time not to be afraid--
and priests should not be. So many of us do not speak up for life for fear we
will offend or hurt parishioners who have somehow been involved in abortion. But
it is not love to allow them to continue heading into the abyss. Priests must
proclaim the truth-- with love, and with the message of healing and forgiveness.
When they do that, people will not walk out, they will be thankful."
Fr. Rivero especially emphasizes the importance of Project Rachel in helping
Priests to minister to women who have had abortions. "Many times priests hear
confessions from these women," he says. "It is essential that they understand
how valuable this ministry is and how available it is to them."
As Director of the Respect Life office of the diocese, as well as the Office
for Charismatic Renewal, Fr. Rivero is attempting to bring the vision of the
Holy Father to the entire Miami area. "The Gospel of Life is so essential to
understanding our Faith," he says. "The Lord is the Lord of Life! Catholics
can't "happen to be" for life. It is the very essence of our Faith. God wants us
to understand that so deeply that we cannot even conceive of being Catholic and
not being pro-life."
That is a message we at Priests for Life want to proclaim as loudly as
Fr. Rivero can be reached at (305) 653-2921. His address is: Respect Life
Office, Archdiocese of Miami, 18340 N.W. 12th Ave., Miami, FL, 33169. He can
also be emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org Fr. Rivero's
website, which contains a wealth of Catholic information, including prayers and
Sunday readings in Spanish, is : http://www.corazones.org
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