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Fr. Pavone: Nellie Gray was “a tireless warrior for the unborn”


Priests for Life



Left: Fr. Frank Pavone and Nellie Gray at the 2012 March for Life

Miss Nellie Gray, Founder of the March for Life, has died.

“Nellie Gray and the March for Life had a most profound effect on my life,” said Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life.

In 1976, when he was a senior in high school, Father Pavone went to the March for Life with his mother and grandmother. Although he had been quietly considering the priesthood before that, the March cemented both his vocation and his passion for pro-life issues.

“Every year since 1974, Nellie Gray has mobilized a diverse and energetic army for life,” said Father Pavone, who has attended every march since his first one. “Her own commitment to the cause never wavered. She was a tireless warrior for the unborn and her motto was ‘no exceptions.’ “

After his ordination in 1988, Father Pavone was assigned to a parish in Staten Island, NY. Every year he led a busload of parishioners to the March for Life. He took over as national director of Priests for Life in 1993, and the following year, attending the event in his new capacity, Miss Gray invited him to say the opening prayer at the March for Life Convention that annually precedes the March.

In 2008, the National Pro-Life Religious Council, which Father Pavone serves as president, presented Miss Gray with its Pro-Life Recognition Award. Later that day, Miss Gray tripped and fell on the stage at the opening rally for the March and had to be taken to the hospital with a head injury.

“As a colleague in national pro-life leadership, Nellie was always an inspiration to the rest of us,” Father Pavone said. “Her devotion was on display that same year, 2008, when, despite being in the hospital during the March for Life, she nevertheless was present at all all-day meeting of national leaders the very next morning, with a patch on her head.”

Every year since its founding in 2003, Miss Gray invited the women of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign to stand on the rally stage holding signs that said, “I Regret My Abortion,” and she arranged for a larger group of post-abortive men and women from Silent No More to be in the vanguard of the March.

“We are so grateful that Nellie Gray shared our vision of Silent No More, and recognized that the women who have had abortions speak with unquestioned authority about the ways they have been harmed by this choice,” said Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life and co-founder of Silent No More. “Every year more women and men come to march and to share their testimony. Nellie Gray helped make that possible for us.”

Miss Gray is also credited for realizing that African-American pro-life leaders had to become more vocal and visible in the fight for life.

“Nellie Gray knew that abortion took a heavy toll from the black community and she urged us to lend our voices to the fight against this terrible injustice,” said Dr. Alveda King, director of African-American Outreach for Priests for Life. “She was a visionary.”

Bryan Kemper, founder of Stand True Ministry and director of Youth Outreach for Priests for Life, said: “My heart is broken by the loss of Nellie Gray, a true pro-life hero and role model. At the same time I celebrate that Nellie is with our Lord who she loved so dearly. I have had the honor of working with Nellie for years and every time I March in DC in January, I know she will be watching over us and praying for us. Nellie Gray, I will miss you dearly.

The 2013 March for Life will mark the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision, and the 39th anniversary of the March.

“It was an anniversary that broke Nellie Gray’s heart every year, and every day,” Father Pavone noted. “In January we will march in her memory, in her honor, to save the unborn children to whom she dedicated her life.”

For more updates from Fr. Frank and to offer your spiritual bouquet, your promise of prayers and to share your memories of Nellie go to .


Left to right: Dee Becker, former vice president, March for Life, Nellie Gray, founder, March for Life, Georgette Forney, President, Anglicans for Life and co-founder, Silent No More Awareness Campaign and Janet Morana, Executive Director, Priests for Life and co-founder, Silent No More Awareness Campaign

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Fred Kahn says:
8/16/2012 3:43:35 AM
I am a Holocaust survivor ( See: and colleague and co-worker at the U.S. Department of Labor of late Nellie Gray . I remember well when she informed me that she was resigning her position to devote her time to her ailing mother and her cause she did not mention, She was an extremely intelligent person who was a brilliant civil servant. We all will sorely miss her.

Kim P says:
8/14/2012 10:44:16 AM
I have never been able to attend the Nat'l March for Life, but listened to Nellie speak year after year. As a pregnancy center director, I treasure Nellie's "no exceptions" philosophy.

I always wanted to meet her in person...looking forward to that meet and greet "on the other side."

Rest in Peace, Nellie.

Tony Sulpizio says:
8/14/2012 10:34:15 AM
Along with our Lord, countless pre-born babies will be welcoming Nellie to her new home in heaven! God Bless you and thank you Nellie!

Lisa says:
8/14/2012 10:06:23 AM
I agree with Tracey! Let's begin praying for her beatification! May she rest in peace! She will be missed!

Tracey says:
8/14/2012 9:57:12 AM
We should start praying for her beatification!! She accomplished so much while on earth - just think of how much more she can do from heaven!!!

Deacon John Giglio says:
8/13/2012 11:14:22 PM
Nellie Gray, a great Pro-Life leader who inspired millions of us to struggle in the fight for the Unborn babies. We were proud to have marched with her over the years in Washington, D.C. May the Divine Mercy be in her soul, may she rest in peace+
Rev. Mr. John Giglio


Priests for Life
PO Box 236695 • Cocoa, FL 32923
Tel. 321-500-1000, Toll Free 888-735-3448 •