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During a regular Saturday morning Mass in York, Pa., last week, eight people pledged their lives to the fight against abortion. For the new members of the Missionaries of Evangelium Vitae – or Missionaries of the Gospel of Life – this was not a promise made lightly.
Deacon Daniel Bernardy’s promise was rooted in his experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer working in an orphanage in Iran.
Stephanie Burns made her first promise the day she was to have surgery for breast cancer, but found out she was pregnant instead.
For Maria Mullen, a journey that began 29 years ago in Mexico continues today with renewed vigor and commitment.
More than 206 people have made lifetime pledges as MEVs, with more than 1,622 in formation around the world. Their stories are as varied as those of the “York Eight,” whose journey began in a “Life Cell” led by MEVs Peggy Pritchard and Vicki Crispo, and whose promises were accepted by Father Paul Schenck, director of Respect Life activities for the Diocese of Harrisburg.
The spirituality and mission of the Missionaries of the Gospel of Life have been shaped by the teaching and example of Pope John Paul II, author of “Evangelium Vitae,” and Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The program was developed by Father Frank Pavone, National Director of the Priests for Life.
“What attracts the MEVs is the fact that pro-life is a spirituality,” said Father Pavone. “It's not a hobby or an extracurricular activity. Rather, it flows from the very core of their faith, and from their commitment to be disciples of Jesus Christ. There they find both the 'why' and the 'how' of pro-life activism.”
After decades involved in pro-life in Mexico, Mrs. Mullen has decided that for now, she will concentrate her efforts at home, raising her children as the next generation of pro-life warriors.
Mrs. Burns, who delivered a healthy son after her breast cancer diagnosis and is now cancer-free herself, is a junior high teacher at a Catholic school. She opens each class with a pro-life prayer to Mary, in the hopes of instilling “a respect for all life into my young students before they can be indoctrinated into the culture of death. After all, our future is in their hands.”
In addition to his many duties as a deacon, Deacon Bernardy can still be found outside abortion clinics with his “weapon of choice” – rosary beads.
Wendy Matarese has had an abortion, and her MEV promise allows her to reach out to other women who have been hurt by the lie that abortion is a solution to a problem.
“After more than a decade out of a state of grace, I went to Reconciliation and the Eucharist,” she said. “Without my association with the MEV and the grace of God, that may not have happened.”
Also making their promises were Bernadette Bernardy, Rachel Bramucci, Edna Christ and Nancy Marquette.
To find out more about the MEV program, visit www.MissionariesoftheGospelofLife.com. To arrange an interview with Father Pavone, any of the York Eight, or Mrs. Pritchard and Mrs. Crispo, call Andre Kim at 347-286-7277.
Priests for Life is the nation's largest Catholic pro-life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia. For more information, visit www.priestsforlife.org.