Since his conversion from self-described “knucklehead” to devout Catholic, Shawn Sullivan has taken on the University of Notre Dame and a South Bend, Indiana, abortion mill. Now he’s setting his sights on preventing Whole Woman’s Health, a Texas-based chain of killing centers, from expanding its deadly reach into his backyard.
Along the way he has had a hand in 102 baby saves, and among the people who have visited the adoration chapel he opened in 2012 is Ulrich “George” Klopfer, an abortionist who admitted in court to performing some 50,000 abortions and whose license was suspended in 2016.
“He has sat in the chapel,” Sullivan said of Klopfer. “We compiled evidence that led to the revocation of his business and his license, and now he helps trim the trees. He converses with us regularly, including today. Fr. Krause blessed him last week. He’s considerably changed now. He is on a road.”
Sullivan’s own road had a few unexpected turns. A 1993 Cum Laude graduate of Harvard Law School, he was on the partnership track and deep into several business ventures when, around the millennium, at the age of 33, he found himself on his personal road to Damascus.
“I’m a revert – a cradle Catholic who had very little catechesis,” Sullivan recalled. “Most of my generation was poorly catechized. I had been to Mass enough times where I could talk the talk, but I definitely didn’t walk the walk.” Once he began reading the Bible, which he received as a gift, things started to change.
“I would read a little bit of the Old Testament, a little bit of the New, some Psalms,” he said. “It kept escalating until one day I wandered into an adoration chapel. After that, God started talking to me. I was getting instructions to build an adoration chapel next to an abortion mill.”
The chapel was built, the Apostolate of Divine Mercy in Service of Human Life, and it opened in 2012, right next to Klopfer’s Women’s Pavilion. To facilitate the focused prayer and make sure its presence did not go unnoticed, they cut a hole in the wall right behind the altar to make a two-foot-tall monstrance visible from the mill.
An anonymous donor gave them a Vatican-approved relic of St. George the Dragon-slayer, which seemed providential since Klopfer is commonly known as George and his website at the time bore the emblem of a dragon stating “powered by Black Dragon.”
On the Apostolate of Divine Mercy’s fourth anniversary – the very day Mother Teresa was canonized a saint -- Bishop Kevin Rhoades canonically “entrusted” the Apostolate to the care and intercession of Mother Teresa. Noting that the Women’s Pavilion was closed and the abortionist’s license suspended, the bishop said in his homily: “Prayer in the Divine Mercy chapel – you know its power. The abortion mill next door would never be closed if it was not for the power of prayer, recourse to the divine mercy, and adoration of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.”
Sullivan said the Apostolate’s charism “really symbolized that of Mother Teresa because we were going out on the streets. We have to have been the first apostolate dedicated to St. Teresa of Calcutta.”
Sullivan still practices law, but “just enough to squeak-by.” As a visible and vocal vigil director for 40 Days for Life for 10 years and counting, he admits that his activism is not to everyone’s liking.
In 2009, when pro-abortion President Barack Obama was invited to deliver the commencement address at Notre Dame, he was one of the key organizers for pro-life activities that took place off-campus in protest and he was instrumental in obtaining diplomas for the students who opted to attend an alternative commencement, featuring Priests for Life National Director Father Frank Pavone as a speaker.
Sullivan was also responsible for the distribution of free copies of “Maafa 21,” a documentary that exposes the racist and eugenic roots of Planned Parenthood. At a Right to Life dinner in South Bend, Priests for Life’s Alveda King, director of Civil Rights for the Unborn, had him stand to be recognized.
But for some in South Bend, he is already too visible for comfort.
“I’m not very well-liked in the community,” he said. “It’s fairly liberal here, and we make enemies when we go hard on the Truth and those that prefer prestige and power instead of the Truth.”
Tune in to Radio Maria at 6 p.m. ET, Tuesday, Aug. 28, to hear more of Shawn Sullivan’s story. Father Frank Pavone is the host. Listen online at http://radiomaria.us or view at Facebook.com/FatherFrankPavone and call in with a question or comment to 866-333-6279.