In a column he wrote called “Help Wanted: Sisters of Life,” John Cardinal O’Connor presented the idea of a religious community of women specially dedicated to promoting the sanctity of life. He received hundreds of responses.
As a result, on June 1, 1991, eight women entered the newly formed community. They now have over 45 members and several convents in the New York City area.
Meanwhile, Priests for Life has helped priests become stronger in their pro-life work, within their own assignments, and will continue to do so.
But is it not time to take yet another step, and create a community in which priests and seminarians can dedicate their entire lives completely to the defense of life?
Being pro-life is not a hobby. It is a vocation. It is, first of all, a basic aspect of our vocation to be human, and a foundational element of our vocation as Christians. For these reasons, it is also integral to the priesthood. Everyone is called to live out this aspect of his or her vocation in one way or another; many do so by dedicating time to various forms of pro-life activities and prayers.
In the Church, various communities focus on a particular aspect of the Christian vocation in order to strengthen the rest of us in our fidelity to that dimension of the Gospel. So, for example, the Sisters of Charity focus on service to the needy and vulnerable around the world. They are not the only ones called to exercise charity, but their existence reminds all of us of that common call. Likewise, the Blessed Sacrament Fathers are not the only ones who worship the Blessed Sacrament, but their focus on that aspect of our Faith encourages us all to worship the Sacrament more fervently.
So it is with a community focused on life. Pope John Paul II has written, “No single person or group has a monopoly on the defense and promotion of life. These are everyone's task and responsibility” Evangelium Vitae, n.91). The purpose, therefore, of such a community is not to say, “We will take over doing pro-life work the rest of you don't have to worry about it.” Indeed, the purpose of the community would be just the opposite: to raise a trumpet call to the whole Church to give the defense of life the priority it deserves, at every level of Church life and ministry!
Some would wonder why, with such a shortage of priests, we would “divert” them to this specialized work. The answer is that the pro-life movement is precisely the source of many new vocations. Many will be led to the priesthood precisely because such a pro-life community exists. And this community would serve parishes nationwide.
I am convinced that the time has come, and I have met numerous young men across the country ready to devote their lives to their unborn brothers and sisters. And therefore I, too, issue this “Help Wanted” call. Those who are interested can contact me at email@example.com.
Fr. Pavone is the Founding Director of Priests for Life. You may contact Priests for Life at PO Box 141172, Staten Island, NY 10314; Tel: 888-PFL-3448 or 718-980-4400; Fax: 718-980-6515; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: www.priestsforlife.org.