Building a Culture of Life One Heart at a Time

The mission statement of the Sisters of Life states that they are “a contemplative/active religious community dedicated to protecting and advancing a sense of the sacredness of all human life — beginning with the infant in the womb and extending to all those vulnerable to the threat of euthanasia.” Founded by John Cardinal O’Connor in 1991, the sisters begin with prayer and then go out into the world with outreach to create a culture of life one person and one encounter at a time.

Since their founding, the Sisters of Life have been dedicated to providing practical assistance and spiritual and emotional support to pregnant women in crisis. Many of these women have had abortions in the past and want to give their unborn child life but are unsure of how to cope and move forward. The sisters  state that “we strive to bring His peace, the gift of hope and a ‘beginning joy’ to each of these women God sends our way, even amidst what the women themselves readily admit are ‘non-ideal circumstances.’ We have witnessed the truth that ‘life is always a good’ as we have watched it slowly but surely blossom forth in so many of these courageous women with a heart faithful to the call to love.” 

At the Holy Respite, located in the heart of Manhattan, New York, pregnant women “most vulnerable to the pressure of abortion,” whether Catholic or not, are invited to come and stay. A woman is welcome not only through the birth of her child, but up to six months after so that she may get back on her feet and begin to create a life for herself and her child.

The Sisters also help those who are suffering from the pain of abortion. The “Entering Canaan” program takes its name from the Exodus experience of the Jewish people crossing the desert to reach the Promised Land. This program takes women “on a Sacramental journey into the true Promised Land of the Heart of Jesus.” Each retreat is directed by women who experienced both the pain of abortion and the healing found in Christ. Retreats are also offered for men who are experiencing pain as a result of an abortion.

Education is yet another mission of the Sisters of Life. Thanks to the generosity of the Knights of Columbus, Villa Maria Guadalupe in Stamford, Connecticut became a reality. “The retreat house hosts Evenings of Recollection, educational seminars on life issues and retreats for everyone (themes include Theology of the Body, Young Adult Retreats, Post-Abortion Healing, and retreats on the Dignity and Vocation of Women). ” It is “a spiritual home for the pro-life community.” The Sisters also staff the Family Life Office of the Archdiocese of New York, supporting marriages and families.

A more recent addition to the Sisters’ outreach has been the creation of an organized group of laity known as Co-workers. These volunteers work out of local or parish communities to provide help to women in need. Some open their homes to pregnant women; others work to help women find resources in their local communities. Men involved as co-workers help move furniture or build cribs or mentor fathers.  Health professionals, college contacts, business professionals, counselors, and lawyers are all offering their talents to this effort.

For more information on any of the programs offered by the Sisters of Life, please visit their website at

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur


Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur writes from western Massachusetts where she lives with her husband and two sons. A Senior Editor with Catholic, she blogs at

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  • saintstephen

    Dear Sister, The Vatican has responded as well to the Obama prochoice agenda in the following manner:

    VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) – The Pontifical Academy for Life reports to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. It is led by Archbishop Salvatore (Rino) Fisichella,who was personally chosen by Pope Benedict. The highly respected Bishop is auxiliary of Rome and the rector of the city’s Pontifical Lateran University.

    The Academy made its deep concerns over the new US Administrarion very clear this weekend.

    In the aftermath of President Obama’s uniltaeral act of rescinding the “Mexico City Policy”, the Academy spoke out strongly. This action of rescinding the Policy, in effect, opened the funding of activities which promote abortion with US Dollars.

    The Executive Order ended a ban on federal funding for international groups that perform abortions or provide information on them.The anti-life action is being received throughout the entire world as hostile to a respect for the dignity of life and contrary to a recognition of the fundamental right to life from conception to natural death.

    Bishop Rino Fisichella had urged the new President to listen to all of the voices in America without “the arrogance of those who, being in power, believe they can decide of life and death.”

    Clearly, President Obama did not follow this advice.Instead, he unilaterally rescinded one of the most effective pro-life international policies.