LINDSAY — With echoing, impassioned cries for the audience to fund and staff an organized effort to rescue the unborn, a speaker at one of Cooke County’s largest fund raisers addressed a full house at St. Peter’s Catholic parish’s Centennial Hall.
Jim Pinto, coordinator of lay ministries for Priests for Life, a Catholic anti-abortion organization, explained Paul Schenk, the previously scheduled guest speaker for the Abba Women’s Center annual fund raising banquet, and also a leader in Priests for Life, was unable to attend due to the illness of one of his eight children.
Pinto said Schenk covered for him on previous occasions, when Pinto learned his wife, Joy, has colon cancer. He requested prayer.
Pinto urged those present to be bold about their pro-life message. “We need to stop apologizing for being pro-life,” Pinto said.
He noted his offices, which are in the Her Choice Women’s Center in Birmingham, Ala., is located near a fetal heart monitoring machine. “To hear a heartbeat right through that wall, that’s a reminder to me that this is a life!” he said.
Pinto said he has four children and seven grandchildren of his own. His last child, he said, was a surprise. But one day when laying his hands on his wife’s stomach and feeling his soon-to-be-born baby kick and respond to his voice, Pinto had what he called a troubling thought. “This thought came to me: I could kill you today,” he said. “Not that I would do such a thing ...”
He said that since abortion is legal many turn a blind eye to the issue and refuse to deal with it and formulate their own opinions.
According to the Priests for Life Web site, nearly 4,000 abortion operations take place every day in the U.S.
Pinto alluded to the story of the Woman Caught in Adultery in the Christian New Testament. According to an account in John 8, a woman was suspected of having sex with someone who was not her husband (though the man was suspiciously not present, Pinto noted) and she was brought out to the public square for execution by stoning by an angry mob. Jesus intervened and prevented the situation, writing an unknown inscription in the dirt and saying, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” “(Then) Jesus addressed her as, ‘Woman,’ appealing to her femininity,” Pinto said, “and forgave her her sins.” Forgiveness, as well as care for women who have given birth to babies after unplanned pregnancies, is essential to the “culture of life.”
He had everyone in the audience raise their hand who is 34 years of age and younger. “You are the generation that was considered to be non-persons,” he said, noting the legalization of abortion in 1972.
He urged the audience to consider unborn babies as full-fledged human beings. He said he and Joy had a miscarried child whom he still prays for and expects to see in heaven one day.
He said God is described in places as “abba Father” — the inspiration for the naming of Gainesville’s women’s center — which means in Aramaic “daddy.”
Pinto said God is not only upset when his children are killed, including the unborn, but “screams.” He alluded to the story of Cain and Abel — “the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10).
Pinto said each human being, including the unborn, are the indirect image of God. He said, according to Nicholas of Cusa, 15th Century philosopher and mathematician “In all faces is seen the Face of faces, veiled and in a riddle.”
Preceding Pinto’s speech, Sandee Feyereisen, director of Abba since May, said many women come to the center claiming they have no other options. “They think there’s no hope when they learn they have a surprise pregnancy,” she said. The center provides a wide array of pre-natal services to assist any mother. “We let them know they’re not alone,” she said. The assistance doesn’t stop with the birth of the child, she said. Feyereisen said the center provides parenting classes, basic nutrition, Bible lessons and works with Child Protective Services in certain instances. “Can you imagine helping someone to not make a decision they’ll regret for the rest of their life? That’s what we do at Abba,” she said.
She read a testimonial from an anonymous client, praising the center. The testimonial appealed to the audience and legislators to not give women a choice in whether to kill their unborn babies.
Annual statistics for 2006, according to Feyereisen, include: 1,630 client visits to the Abba Women’s Center; 409 pregnancy tests; 500 families assisted; 62 women made decisions to become Christians; 244 sonograms; 566 in class attendance; and, most importantly she said, “five babies saved,” meaning five women decided to not have abortions after meeting with Abba workers and volunteers.
“This is the fruit of what you’ve given,” she said. Feyereisen requested additional volunteers for the effort. “If God so leads you, come by and fill uot a volunteer packet,” she said.
Preceding Feyereisen, a volunteer award was presented to Angela Haverkamp from emcee Bill Black. Haverkamp manages the Second Chance second-hand retail store on Mondays, among other responsibilities. “This award is so special it’s been given twice before,” Black said. He noted the award would be named in her honor after this year. Donna Hertel, one of Haverkamp’s daughters, said her mother was unable to attend due to fainting earlier that afternoon.
Also preceding Pinto’s speech, the Sacred Heart choir performed three selections under the direction of Fran Schully. A silent auction took place during the entire event, raising funds for the center.
No report on attendance of amount of money raised was available by press time.
Abba Women’s Center is located at 414 E. Elm St. in downtown Gainesville behind the Turner Apartments. For information call the center at 668-6391.