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Priests for Life Newsletter

Volume 8, Number 5
Sept.-Oct. 1998

C O N T E N T S

Homily Hints: Dying You Destroyed our Death!

Priests for Life Announces Major Projects for Abortion Alternatives and Post-Abortion Healing

Another Full Time Priest

The Spirit of Love

Prayer Intentions

Priest Profile--Rev. Jeremiah Nunan


Homily Hints: Dying You Destroyed our Death!

Fr. Frank Pavone
Pontifical Council for the Family

"Dying you destroyed our death; rising you restored our life; Lord Jesus, come in glory!"

This is the marvelous cry of a people redeemed and hopeful. We look back at the definitive event of human history, namely, the death Christ freely accepted on the cross, which destroyed the power and kingdom of death. We rejoice in His resurrection, and do so with the keen awareness that even now we share that risen life. "Do you not know that Jesus Christ is in you?" St. Paul asks the Corinthians (2 Cor.13:5). Finally, inspired by the Holy Spirit, we look forward to the culmination of our salvation, and wait in joyful hope for the Lord to come again.

This, in a nutshell, is our faith as the People of Life. The marvelous events of redemption occurred for all, and all people are called to belong to the New People of God (see Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, 13). It is, in fact, unthinkable that we could believe these things to be true and not want to share them with everyone. The Church, by definition, is missionary. She is entrusted with Good News which is destined for all without any distinction whatsoever. The Church is eager to overcome barriers to the proclamation of the Gospel. She has been commanded, "Preach the Gospel to every creature" (Mk.16:15). Barriers such as a lack of religious freedom must be removed. Philosophical barriers which make it more difficult for people to hear the message must also be removed.

There is another barrier to the proclamation of this Gospel of salvation, and that barrier is abortion.

Those who are created but then deprived of birth are deprived of hearing the Gospel, of receiving baptism, and of growing as disciples. This is but one of the many reasons abortion is wrong.

"Preach the Gospel to every creature." Does that not include the children, even the smallest children? In defending their right to be born, we also defend their right to hear the Good News and to freely accept it in years to come. Pro-life work is an aspect of evangelization, not only in the sense that the proclamation of the Gospel dynamically implies that those who accept it defend life, but also in the sense that the defense of life is a condition for people to hear that Gospel in the first place.

"Dying You destroyed our death." Whose death did He destroy? Christ's death and resurrection overturned the very Kingdom of death for every human being, including the unborn. "Inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Mt.25:34)" "God chose us in Him, before the world began…(Eph.1:4)." The unfolding of the historical events that brought us salvation is the unfolding of a plan that is eternal, and of a choice of God that is eternal. He knows what He has in mind for the child He creates in the womb. Depriving that child of life, therefore, is a sin against a marvelous salvific plan for that child. Certainly, God can bring good out of evil and still save these children. But the point is that in this life, we grow in the knowledge, grace, and love of God in ways that remain into eternity, and abortion deprives children of this marvelous journey which is meant to be a journey to sainthood.

In being defenders of the preborn, we are also missionaries to the preborn. There is even a pro-life group which has taken that very name to emphasize the point we are making here. Let us pray that each and every human being may be given the opportunity to hear and believe in the Gospel. May the missionary zeal of the Church find strong expression in her steadfast defense of life!

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Priests for Life Announces Major Projects for
Abortion Alternatives and Post-Abortion Healing

Fr. Frank Pavone

Priests for Life actively collaborates with dozens of pro-life organizations on a national level and provides an opportunity for the nation's clergy to become familiar with initiatives they might not otherwise hear about.

Two of the themes that Priests for Life stresses the most are 1) alternatives to abortion, and 2) post abortion healing and forgiveness. The Church offers both, as an integral proclamation of the Gospel of Life and an essential aspect of pastoral care.

Two initiatives within the pro-life movement which assist the local parish in both of these areas are now being promoted by Priests for Life in a major way: the Gabriel Project and Operation Jericho.

The Gabriel Project: Offering Mothers Hope

The Gabriel Project is an effort of the local parish to reach out to women who might be tempted to have abortion, and to provide them with the friendship and assistance of the Christian community. As we know, there are various networks, agencies, and national hotlines designed to offer alternatives to abortion. What the Gabriel Project does is to complement this by giving the woman in need the assistance of the local Church.

A sign is placed on Church property indicating that those who are pregnant and in need can turn to the Church. (Signs are obtained through the Gabriel Project offices.) The parish organizes a team of people who are known as "Gabriel Angels," and each person who comes forward seeking help is given one of these angels, who then becomes acquainted with the circumstances and needs of the person. That information is taken back to the Church, which is then called upon to provide assistance. Meanwhile, the Angel remains the friend of the person in need, walking beside her through the course of the pregnancy.

The Gabriel Project began in Texas in 1990. The founder, Kathy McConn, estimates that there may now be close to 300 parishes carrying out the project today. A handbook has been prepared explaining the details of how a parish would participate in the Gabriel Project. There is a strong ecumenical interest and involvement with this ministry as well.

In the words of the founder, "The Angel Gabriel who announced to Mary that she was to be the Mother of God. And she said, "How is this to be?", and he said "Nothing is impossible with God." And so we tell the women that nothing is impossible with God. It is based on the good news that the Angel Gabriel brought. It is always good news that a child is born."

Operation Jericho: Offering Mothers Healing

Operation Jericho is an effort to facilitate the healing and reconciliation of millions of women and men suffering the aftermath of abortion. It aims to increase awareness of post-abortion grief within the Church and the wider society, and to assist clergy to encourage men and women to participate in the healing programs which exist, such as Project Rachel. In the last ten years, there has been a proliferation of such programs and ministries, and in the last two years a dramatic increase in the numbers of people coming forward to seek healing from the wounds of abortion. Yet a lack of awareness of post-abortion dynamics, and a silence surrounding the subject, only delays the day when millions more can again find peace with God and themselves, and begin living a full Christian life. A clear, coordinated effort from the pulpits across America to invite people to turn to the Church for post-abortion healing will, at this moment in the history of the movement, have a tremendous response.

Operation Jericho draws on the work of Dr. David Reardon, a well-known expert on post-abortion issues, with whom Priests for Life has collaborated for years. One of the tools for Operation Jericho is Dr. Reardon's book The Jericho Plan, a resource for pastors in preaching on post-abortion issues and dealing with post-abortion individuals. One of various objectives of the project is, in Dr. Reardon's words, "to improve the public perception of the Church and pro-life

activists, who are often seen as judgmental and condemning of women who have had abortions, by demonstrating through concrete outreach efforts our sincere compassion and concern for those who have had abortions."

Another goal of the project is to lay a foundation of public empathy for post-abortion problems upon which to build support for laws that will (1) protect women from abortion related injuries, (2) expand women's rights to informed consent, (3) extend women's rights to redress against abortionists, and (4) hold abortion facilities accountable for screening women for known risk factors and protecting them from unwanted, coerced, or dangerous abortions.

People who have been involved in abortion are walled in by many powerful obstacles: denial about the evil they have participated in, silence on the part of those around them, shame and despair, which prevent them from seeking healing and forgiveness. Like Jericho of old, this renewed effort within the Church can bring those walls tumbling down.

In subsequent publications, Priests for Life will explain further details about the Gabriel Project and about Operation Jericho, with tools to assist you to be involved in these critical initiatives.

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Another Full Time Priest

Priests for Life is happy to announce the addition of Fr. Denis Wilde, OSA, who will also work full time for this pro-life ministry.

Fr.. Wilde is a member of the Augustinian Province of St. Thomas of Villanova, and has served on the faculty of Villanova University from 1977 to 1998. A Long Island native, Fr. Wilde holds a Ph.D in music, is an accomplished pianist and enjoys presenting concerts for pro-life organizations. In fact, he will be available to hold concerts for the benefit of the Priests for Life ministry.

Fr. Denis has been actively involved in pro-life interests since before Roe v. Wade. He has spoken at pro-life civic and religious functions in the Boston and Philadelphia area, been involved in the "rescue" movement and the Helpers of God's Precious Infants, and developed many ecumenical ties. He is also involved with Rachel’s Vineyard retreats for those enduring post-abortion syndrome.

Fr. Denis writes: " There is no more dangerous environment for persons than the womb. This bizarre state of a culture of death protected by law and disguised as medicine perpetuates a lie of a colossal order. Its consequence is dead end street to baby, mother and civilization.

"Our days, brought up against this backdrop, can be foreboding. But they can be attended to by a wake-up call to act on the promise God has given us all - to thwart evil and look to His Victory, already accomplished for us. A priest needs to be at the front, side and beyond his flock in this battle for life. Ours is not an option to wait for someone else to come along. What a joy it is to know that God is in charge and will not fail to lead us forward to end this ‘unspeakable crime.’"

Priests for Life is very grateful to Very Rev. John E. Deegan, O.S.A., for assigning Fr. Wilde to Priests for Life. You may invite him to your parishes, schools, or pro-life events. Please contact our travel office at

P.O. Box 441
Front Royal, VA 22630

Phone: 540-636-4855
Fax: 540-636-4890
E-mail: clynch@shentel.net

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The Spirit of Love

Fr. Frank Pavone
Pontifical Council for the Family

St. Paul calls God the Father the one "who did not spare his own Son, but handed him over for us all" (Rom.8:32). Handed him over, that is, to the agony and disgrace of crucifixion between two thieves.

How can it be? How can the Father hand his Son over to that?

Because the Father inspired in the Son such great love. That is how St. Thomas Aquinas answered the question. The Lord indeed had said, "Greater love than this no one has, than to lay down his life for his friends" (Jn.15:13).

The love which exists between the Father and the Son, and is poured out on us, is a Person, the Holy Spirit. He is Love.

"Love" is the most misused, abused, and confused word in the English language. We use it for a lot of good things, and for a few evil things as well. But in the Word of God we find its authentic meaning: "The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us" (1Jn.3:16). The Holy Spirit is visible not only on Pentecost. In a very real sense, He becomes visible in the crucifixion, because the kind of love He inspires is the love that gives unto the point of death. Thus, the Letter to the Hebrews states, "Christ, through the eternal spirit offered himself unblemished to God" (Heb.9:14).

In the laws of the Old Testament, offerings were consumed by fire. In the eternal offering of Christ, the fire is the Holy Spirit.

But that same Holy Spirit is given to us. The second half of 1 John 3:16 states, "so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." That's what love does. It gives itself away, and that is why it is the opposite of abortion. Love

says, "I sacrifice myself for the good of the other person." Abortion says, "I sacrifice the other person for the good of myself." That turns the cross upside down and runs in the opposite direction of the Holy Spirit.

The love which gives itself away also unites. The Holy Spirit is the bond between the Father and the Son, and the one who unites the Church. "For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…and we were all given to drink of one Spirit" (1 Cor.12:13). The Holy Spirit unites; abortion divides. You can't divide the human family more effectively than by introducing conflict between a mother and the child within her womb. Those who work with post-abortion counseling know the numerous other divisions abortion introduces within families and in the soul of those who have abortions.

I have read and written a lot of words about abortion over the years. But there are no words that can be said well enough, loud enough, or often enough to bring this tragedy to an end. That will happen only when, through the eternal Spirit, we too lay down our lives for our preborn brothers and sisters.

 

In our next issue:

In the next issue of the Priests for Life newsletter, we will share some fascinating reflections by an expert in psychology, who works with doctors who have performed abortions and no longer do so.

We will also explore how the research of the Caring Foundation, which has resulted in a successful media campaign to change attitudes about abortion, can be applied to preaching in our pulpits.

Don't miss it!

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Prayer Intentions:

You are encouraged to remember the following intentions as you pray the Liturgy of the Hours:

September intention: That schools and universities teach the full truth about the abortion issue.

October intention: That the initiatives taken for Respect Life Sunday may bear fruit throughout the country.

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Priest Profile--- Rev. Jeremiah Nunan

By Anthony DeStefano
Executive Director

In 1963, when Fr. Jeremiah Nunan was ordained to the priesthood in his home county of Waterford, Ireland, he made the difficult decision to leave his family and friends and come to the United States, where vocations were not as numerous and he thought he could better serve the Universal Church.

This kind of self-sacrifice and courage is typical of Fr. Nunan, one of the most dedicated "Priests for Life" in the country.

While he never regretted his decision to come here, Fr. Nunan clearly treasures his rich Irish heritage. Indeed, over the years, he has endeavored to build up a bit of Ireland right in the diocese of Albany, where he has served for over three decades.

Due largely to his efforts, the "Catholic Community of Cairo/E. Durham, NY" was founded in 1989. Made up of Sacred Heart Church, the Church of St. Mary’s, and Our Lady of Knock Shrine, the religious complex accommodates over 500 people. Fr. Nunan, as pastor of Sacred Heart, is responsible for overseeing all the pro-life activities of the parish community.

And there are certainly a lot of them!

  • Fr. Nunan’s pro-life committee meets once a month and has 25 very active members.
  • The community sponsors an annual pro-life essay contest on Chastity, for teenagers preparing for Confirmation.
  • On the third Friday of every month, there is a special "Gospel of Life" Holy Hour at Our Lady of Knock Shrine, during which time one section of Evangelium Vitae is read aloud and reflected upon.
  • The pro-life committee frequently participates in a "Scripture Wall" outside the local abortuary in Hudson, NY. Led by Fr. Nunan and his good friend and fellow warrior, Fr. Francis McCloskey, this "prayerful presence of pro-lifers" has been responsible for saving many lives.

Speaking to Fr. Nunan, one is immediately aware of his great humility and holiness. Indeed, he gives most of the credit for the success of his pro-life efforts to Fr. McCloskey, whom he calls, "the brains and energy" of the pro-life movement in Cairo/E. Durham.

"The most important thing all of us can do," says Fr. Nunan, "is keep up the good work and support the pro-life movement in the United States on both the local and national level. We’ve been working 25 years for an end to abortion, and we’ll continue to do so for another 25 if that’s what it takes.

"The results are there for all of us to see," he states emphatically. "There are fewer abortions taking place right now and fewer doctors willing to perform them. That’s because of the pro-life effort. Our hard work is definitely paying off. We must continue our activism and persevere in prayer--- Especially our prayerful presence in front of abortion facilities. That makes all the difference."

Fr. Nunan can be reached at Sacred Heart Church, P.O. Box 778, Cairo, NY, 12413;
his phone number is (518) 622-3319.

 

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Priests for Life
PO Box 141172 • Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. 888-735-3448, (718) 980-4400 • Fax 718-980-6515
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