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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 Staten Island
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 236695, Cocoa, FL 32923). However, please note the new phone numbers: 321-500-1000, 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 Popularity


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 pro-life retreats.

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 do this.


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 reprinted below.

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 extreme.

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 understand both.

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):


Calcutta, 24-1-95

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 children.

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 following
intentions when praying the Liturgy of the Hours:

November intention: That the children who are now scheduled to be aborted may be protected.

December intention: That God may give eternal rest to the women who died from abortion.


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 Library
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 library.

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 library.

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."

--Mother Teresa


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, 321-500-1000.


Priest Profile -- Fr. Jordi Rivero
by Anthony DeStefano
Executive Director

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 Missionary.

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 possible.

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: Fr. Rivero's website, which contains a wealth of Catholic information, including prayers and Sunday readings in Spanish, is :

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