Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life
The pro-life movement is all about freedom. That's why Priests for Life, with
the leadership of our Pastoral Associate Dr. Alveda King, is launching “Freedom
Rides” for the unborn to galvanize pro-life activity across the country.
During the Civil Rights movement, the "Freedom Rides" constituted a distinctive
moment of resolve and unity. The Supreme Court, in its 1960 decision Boynton
vs. Virginia, had outlawed segregation in bus terminals and restaurants
serving interstate travelers. So the following spring, thirteen people - seven
African-Americans and six whites - decided to travel by bus from Washington DC
to New Orleans to test the enforcement of that Supreme Court decision.
Along the way, particularly in Alabama, they encountered opposition and violence
from those who did not want desegregation. But having been brutally attacked,
and some lying with wounds in hospital beds, the “Freedom Riders” vowed that the
journey would continue.
That's when others joined in, and the initial Freedom Ride became 60 rides
across Southern states in the summer of 1961, with some 450 riders
participating. And by the fall of that same year, the government issued orders
for the enforcement of desegregation at the bus terminals.
The Civil Rights movement and the Pro-Life movement have the same heart and
soul: A longing for equal justice for everyone, based on the inherent
dignity of every human life.
That's why, when Dr. Alveda King first walked with me at the annual March for
Life and I asked her, “Does this remind you of the marches in the civil
rights movement?” she declared,
“Fr. Frank, this is the civil rights
Both movements are movements of freedom. It is therefore time for Freedom
Rides for the unborn. The pro-life movement is more ready than ever to
Freedom from the lies and the deceit that allow abortion to
Freedom from the despair that leads people into abortion mills!
Freedom from the fear of speaking up and taking action for the
Freedom from the shame and guilt of past involvement in abortion!
Freedom from the political oppression that tramples on human rights
and denies equality before the law!
Freedom from violence and death itself!
I invite all Americans to join me, Dr. Alveda King, the Priests for Life
family, and all the People of LIFE as we make Our Lord’s mission our own. In
His very first sermon Jesus summarized His message and mission by saying He
had come to “proclaim liberty to the captives!” As
His disciples, let us be resolved to do the same!
Be a PRO-LIFE Freedom Rider
The rides will choose cities with strategic significance for the
movement. While pro-life activists ride the buses, all pro-life people
nationwide will be invited to participate simultaneously in concrete
activities that will call for freedom on various levels. This will be one of
the largest efforts to renew and focus the efforts of the entire pro-life
After almost 40 years of perseverance, sacrifice and courageous effort,
abortion-on-demand remains the law of the land. Every day thousands of
innocent babies are slaughtered in abortion mills across the country.
Families are being torn apart. And women are being scarred for life.
It is time to end the killing, the suffering,
the pain, and the violence of abortion. All of us here at
Priests for Life are committed to hastening the day when the people of life
claim VICTORY over abortion! And one way we will bring about that victory is
through our “Pro-life Freedom Rides.”
Project / Event Structure
• Planning meetings are still in progress. These meetings include various
Catholic bishops, clergy from other denominations, leaders from other
national pro-life organizations, and local pro-life activists. These
meetings are crucial so that all involved are on board with the overall plan
and ready to provide their energy and expertise in order to give the Freedom
Ride events maximum impact.
• The initial Freedom Ride event will take place in the Spring of 2010.
The actual date of the first Freedom Ride bus will not be announced until
everything is firmly in place: Coordination with local clergy (both Catholic
and Protestant). Coordination with local pro-life groups. Coordination with
• In order to expand the influence of the Freedom Ride project, same-day
events will be conducted in locations all across the country. Priests for
Life will coordinate these off-site events and supply whatever materials
• We hope to broadcast the main Freedom Ride event via the Internet with
a LIVE webcast!
• Another plan has Priests for Life recording the Freedom Ride’s opening
night event and then allowing local groups to download the video from the
PFL website and broadcasting it at their events the next day.
• For the Catholic pro-life community, we are asking parishes to hold 40
hours devotions at parishes throughout the diocese. At the discretion of the
local bishop, public Eucharistic processions and outdoor Masses can take
• Banners, brochures, videos, pamphlets, DVDs, books and other materials
are being produced. These will be handed out at the Freedom Ride event. They
will also be distributed to the off-site events that will be taking place
all around the country in coordination with the main Freedom Ride event.
4-6 weeks before event
• Priests for Life will conduct a “Pastor/Clergy Conference” to assist
priests and pastors on ways they can preach about abortion the weekend of
the main Freedom Ride event.
• Priests for Life will delegate Freedom Ride events to various local
pro-life coordinators, as well as leaders of other national pro-life
• Priests for Life will meet with local members of the PFL family and enlist
their active participation.
Opening Evening Rally at the site of the Main Freedom Ride Event
• Freedom Riders arrive by bus to rally site.
• Rally concert will include music and speeches from Father Frank, Alveda
King, local church leaders, local and national pro-life and civil rights
leaders, and leaders of the local pro-life movement.
• Local groups will set up recruitment booths and all attending the Freedom
Ride event will be strongly encouraged to go to those booths and sign up to
do their part to end abortion in their local community.
• Rallies, protests, and marches at the sites of the killing will take
place. Interdenominational services, as well as Masses, will take place in
various locations simultaneously.
• Healing services will be held which will feature speakers from Rachel's
Vineyard, the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, and other post-abortion
ministries. Priests will be available for Confession.
• Press conferences will inform the local media.
• Lobbying of state and federal officials will take place.
• Gatherings of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign will be held, during
which men and women who have lost children to abortion will share their pain
Preaching the Word
• All the priests and pastors will preach a common message addressing the
great evil of abortion and calling on all of Christ’s followers to get
involved in the fight against abortion.
As details become finalized, they will be posted
Freedom Ride Timetable
NOTE: This is a working document. Its sole purpose is to
help keep the Freedom Ride project on schedule. This gives you a better
understanding of the extensive planning and coordination needed to ensure
the Freedom Ride project’s success.
• Pre-planning trip to event sites
• Map out Freedom Ride bus routes
• Contact local authorities and get their input for the events
• Determine materials needed for events – banners, t-shirts, booklets,
• Develop logo, theme and materials needed for events
• Create broadcast schedule
• Create list of leaders to participate in events and broadcasts
• Contact local Bishops to arrange for celebration of Mass at each event.
• Finalize events and routes
• Develop list of locations of Freedom Ride billboards
• Finalize design and copy for billboards
• Contact local activists and clergy inviting them to participate in event
• Begin taping leaders for broadcast at Freedom Ride events
due for event components – buses, venues, permits, etc.<![endif]>
• Announce Freedom Rides
• Launch media campaign both local and national
• Finalize printed materials and begin ordering
• Conduct priest and clergy talks at churches around the Freedom Ride
• Erect billboards
• Work with leaders of local pro-life groups to recruit pro-life activists
to attend events and take part in Freedom Ride activities
• Distribute recruiting materials prior to Freedom Ride events
• Order t-shirts, banners, bracelets, etc. for distribution at Freedom Ride
• Review event schedule with local public authorities ... city councils,
• Provide local pro-life leaders with materials to recruit participants
• Finalize media broadcast schedule and participants; combination of live
and taped events
Turn the key and fire up the first Pro-life
Freedom Ride bus!