Saturday, February 21, 2009

Building the Culture of Life ... in Baltimore!

Dear Friends,

This year was my second time attending the National March for Life in DC. I made a personal retreat out of it and spent nearly two days at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, attending the Vigil Mass and other events leading up to the march. I found the experience to be very transforming for me personally and have since begun to learn more about how to promote the Gospel of Life.

This has led me to do a lot of research and prayer on the issues and also to get involved more locally. I am writing to you to tell you about some good things going on in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Paul Schenck: How New Democrats and New Republicans Will Reverse Roe v. Wade and End Abortions
Last night I attended a talk by Paul Schenck who wears many hats, notably he is the founder and director of the National Pro-Life Action Center on Capitol Hill (literally across the street from the Supreme Court), he also is a broadcaster on (National Pro-Life Radio which broadcasts 12 hours a day, 7 days a week) and he is also Director of Respect Life Office of the Diocese of Harrisburg. Gosh that's a lot! Not to mention he has had quite a faith journey from reform Judaism to Evangelical Christian to Episcopalian Pastor and now as of 2002 he has come home to the Catholic Church!

I tell you all this because I was totally encouraged by his talk at the Cathedral of Mary our Queen on Friday night "How New Democrats & New Republicans will reverse Roe vs Wade and end abortions." I don't know what I was expecting, but I guess I always thought of Pro-Life people as staunch Republicans who are often two-faced in decrying abortion but then not supporting initiatives to provide health care as a right to mothers and children in need. Dr. Schenck showed me a new face of the pro-life movement, one in which there is common ground between Republicans and Democrats, one in which there is a movement to protect life in all forms "from womb to tomb," and one in which hearts and minds of individuals are won through love of enemies and finding that common ground. Even the most staunch of pro-choice advocates will admit that abortion is an ugly thing and is not to be desired, and that measures should be done to reduce the number of abortions in this country. And therein lies our hope for the future of making strides politically.

This was very encouraging and I wished everyone could have been there to hear this talk! Well, fortunately I have a CD of the lecture!! I think through a technical glitch about a minute of it is missing, but nothing too critical. If you are interested please let me know and I will give you a copy of the CD or let you borrow it.

30th Annual Marland March for Life
March 9th is the 30th Annual Maryland March for Life. The evening begins with registration at 5 pm at St. Mary's church in Annapolis. Mass is at 5:30 with Archbishop Edwin O'Brien, and then at 6:40 we march to Lawyer's Mall at the State House. Tracey Tiernan, WRBS On-Air Radio, will MC the event. For further info go to

This and other events can be found on the Defend Life website, a resource I have found very helpful.

Praying Outside Abortion Clinics & Sidewalk Counseling
With the Sisters of Life and Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, I have had the experience of praying and witnessing outside abortion clinics in the South Bronx. I was very impressed with the prayerful and respectful presence of the religious and lay people at these gatherings. Basically how it works is that most people just keep a prayerful presence, singing, praying the Rosary, praying silently etc., while a few trained individuals offer information and help to those going in and out of the clinic. There were no posters, no signs or graphic images, just prayer and an offer to help. Help comes in the form of literature and counseling to provide women who are considering abortions with options in terms of places they can go for medical and other care and services if they are in a crisis pregnancy situation. Also referrals to Project Rachel and other post-abortive resources are offered to women and men who have already suffered the effects of abortion.

It took some research but I found some like-minded individuals who provide the same prayerful presence and offer to help others, outside abortion clinics in Baltimore. This morning I found myself outside one on the corner of Calvert & University Place, just a few blocks from John Hopkins University. It was in the back of a condo building in an affluent area. It was amazing how many people lived there and didn't even know there was an abortion clinic in their own backyard! Even more amazing to me was how well people responded to us. One of the workers in the clinic came to talk to us and asked for help in prayers in finding work somewhere else! Many men and women were receptive to our presence and open to conversation and receiving a Rosary and some information. We even had a couple "turn-around" and decide not to go to their scheduled appointment. It is a true testimony to the power of the prayer and the grace of the Holy Spirit.

You don't have to be directly engaged if you are not comfortable with this kind of work. Personally I prefer just to pray at this point, until I have more experience and training. I am planning of going every Saturday during Lent. Please let me know if you are interested in joining me. Actually that brings me to the next topic:

Sidewalk Counseling Training: Saturday, March 14, St. Alphonsus Church
Missy Smith will provide the training. Lunch will be served at 12:30, followed by her talk at 1. Everything is free. Seating is limited though so please contact me if you are interested in going and I can get a spot reserved for you. I plan on going if you want to come with and learn with me! Missy Smith is the founder of WAKE UP: Women Against the Killing and Exploitation of Unprotected Persons.

Also if you can't go to any of the above events there is also some legislative action you can take.

Have you fought FOCA by sending in your post-cards??
Please see the USCCB website and read the fact-sheet on FOCA if you are not familiar with it. The recent piece in TIME Magazine made it seem like FOCA is mythical legislation because it hasn't been proposed yet and is unlikely to pass. However, it is better to be proactice and send the message to our legislators that they better not even THINK of endorsing or encouraging such a bill. This would be the most radical pro-abortion measure ever passed by law and would abolish restrictions on abortion and require taxpayer funding of abortions. Please download, distribute, and mail-in your post-cards if you have not done so already!


Please Consider a Petition to the Bishop & Vatican to Withhold Communion from Prominent Dissenting Catholics
If you are like me, you might initially have a knee-jerk reaction to the above heading and think "I don't believe in using the sacraments as a way to send political statements!" Before coming to that conclusion please read the background information below and then consider signing the petition.
Background --
Petition --

Please contact me if you have any questions about any of the above or would like to learn more. I have tons of information and resources. I'm practically building a mini-library. I don't mean this post to be overwhelming, but I just had so much I wanted to share. I hope that perhaps you will consider one of the above as a way to take action and promote the culture of life!

God bless.

Yours in Jesus through Mary,


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I just wanted to make a note that Wake Up's website domain has changed:
Thanks Mara, I will ask Justine to update the post.
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