History of Priests for Life, Part One
History of Priests for Life, Part Two
As we continue to reflect on the history of Priests for Life in these newsletters during our 25th anniversary year, we have recently mourned the passing of Mother Angelica, Foundress of EWTN. She died on Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016 and Priests for Life was among the first to announce her passing about three hours after it happened.
I was privileged to concelebrate her funeral Mass on Friday, April 1, along with with Archbishop Chaput, Archbishop Viganò (the Papal nuncio to the USA), and other bishops and priests.
As I said farewell to Mother Angelica during that solemn Mass, I reflected on how much she was a part of the history of Priests for Life. In my very first year of doing this ministry full-time, as pro-life groups in local communities across the country began inviting me to come to encourage and train their people and preach in their Churches, the pro-life groups in Birmingham, AL, were among those who invited me. Among the events they planned was an appearance on Mother Angelica’s Live Show. Mother and I talked about Priests for Life and the work we do in ending abortion. She called it “courageous,” and the next day she had me meet with her in her office. “I’d like you to tape a series for this network about abortion,” she said to me, and she picked up the phone right then and there and called one of the producers. “Please schedule Fr. Frank Pavone to tape a series on abortion.” We taped it within a few months, and in January of 1995, the series Defending Life began airing on EWTN. It still airs to this day, as we produce 26 new episodes each year on this longest running, farthest-reaching program on abortion ever aired.
By personally welcoming me to the network and requesting that I start this series, and then by having me frequently on many Live Shows since then, Mother Angelica was responsible for much of the growth of Priests for Life. Countless people from across the United States and around the world write to us and say, “We watch your program on EWTN.” Moreover, among them are so many who say, “You changed my mind on abortion,” or “You inspired me to get active in the pro-life movement,” or “I had an appointment for an abortion and after I saw your show I canceled it.” I have been privileged to visit some of the mothers who were dissuaded from abortion thanks to our Defending Life program on EWTN.
So, thank you, Mother Angelica, for opening the door for Priests for Life to a worldwide audience that continues to support us, encourage us, and carry out the activities we initiate!