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Interview with Bryan Belli

President, Seminarians for Life


P: Bryan, tell us about first of all yourself and where you go to seminary and a little bit about Seminarians for Life.

B: Sure Father. I go to Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland and I am in my second year of Theology, and I am studying for the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. And I have been the President of Seminarians for Life for about the last 2 years. And Seminarians for Life was actually started in the early 70’s, by some of our priests and seminarians. But then it kind of died out for a little bit, and then funding came back in the early 80’s, and it has been in existence since then.

P: "Seminarians for Life" is a title which sometimes can lead to the same question some ask when they hear "Priests for Life", namely, Isn't every seminarian for life? How do you answer that question?

B: Well I say certainly they should all be seminarians for life. It should be at the core of who we are as seminarians and as future priests. But at times there is that danger when you are in a seminary to get caught up with your theological studies and to see the pro-life issue as a side thing. So we started this organization and continue it to bring the awareness that this should be at the core of our ministry and the core of the priesthood, because everything else follows from the Right to Life. If a person doesn’t come into existence, then nothing else matters. So we think it is very essential. The Holy Father has mentioned the battle of the Culture of Death.

P: How does a seminarian become a member of this association and if he does what happens?

B: Well, he could contact us at the seminary. What they do is join the local chapters. There are usually different groups around the world. We have about 25,000 seminarians in 81 countries right now. Sometimes there are just single seminarians around the world, but basically what we are trying to do is bring everybody together to show that they are not alone… that there are people out there that are convicted for Life and to fight for Life. We try to share resources and talk about what goes on in our different regions, and what works on a practical level and what doesn’t. They do that by correspondence, and we have a newsletter that we put out four times a year. There is an Internet website that we also use, and we have conferences and things of that nature.

P: Do you find that the seminarians today already have some kind of background in pro-life activity by the time that they enter the seminary or do you find the Seminarians for Life is introducing a lot of the seminarians to this kind of activity for the first time?

B: I think it is a little of both. I use to go to an abortion mill in Virginia where I was a computer programmer and so I was already very convicted in the pro-life movement…and got actually more convicted once I got into the seminary. Others get exposed to it for the first time by our newsletter, and they realize, wow, this is helpful. They see it as a very important thing for their ministry in the future, for the priesthood, and even for the current times.

P: How does a Seminarians for Life member integrate the activities of this association with the obligations he already has with prayer life and study and other activities of the seminary? How does all of that work?

B: It is all a balance. And you try to find what you can do for yourself. We’ll go out in front of the abortion mill on Saturday morning and to pray and to try to counsel, and to talk to the women who are coming in and thinking about taking the life of their child. Also you can pray and have little prayer groups in your seminary. Little groups can get together maybe once a month. You always have spare time, and you can utilize that spare time instead of sitting in front of the TV or other ways of leisure. Utilize this time of leisure for actually saving the children.

P: Now a seminarian can join this association even though in his seminary there may not be a formal chapter of Seminarians for Life, is that right?

B: Oh most definitely. And we encourage that. We can help that seminarian with different resources that are out there, and maybe he has some good advice for us that we can share with the rest of the people. So it is all about building a strong network, a unified network of brothers pursuing the same cause and promoting the Gospel of Life.

P: Where would you say that Seminarians for Life as individual seminarians draw most of their inspiration for their engagement now in the pro-life battle?

B: One is experiencing the battle itself. Over Christmas I was at an abortion mill outside Brooklyn, New York. Intellectually, you know that these things go on, but there outside the mill, that day I watched 13 children get saved. And I watched 17 children die that day. I watched the women come in and watched them come out with the brown bags. And I realized.. wow.. that child died right inside here and we need to do something about this.

P: Tell me for a second, for those who do not understand about the brown bags?

B: Right. Oh the brown bags are the medication that the women are given once they have the abortion for any left over effects or things of that nature… if it is a botched abortion or if there are still different things going on in there.

P: Right. So one of the sources of inspiration in other words is the direct experience of the battle?

B: Right. It is the direct experience of the battle. …..




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