A pro-life symposium held Sunday, June 3 at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Southampton brought together representatives from three local pro-life groups to talk about their ministries and how parishioners could get involved and support each group.
Spearheaded by Grand Knight Karl Jones of the parish’s Knights of Columbus chapter, the symposium presented speakers Marie Joseph, director of the Legacy of Life Foundation; Lauren Kretzer from Rachel’s Vineyard and Silent No More; and Anne Ruegner from A Baby’s Breath.
Joseph, a parishioner of St. Ignatius of Antioch in Yardley, spoke about her organization’s work to help turn the fear surrounding an unplanned pregnancy into a source of “unplanned joy,” as she said.
She encouraged her listeners to “volunteer time and find ways they can give some of their tithing to something they feel passionate about.”
Joseph hoped through the symposium they would learn “something they can do” and gain “some ideas of how to shift to a more people-focused pro-life mission.”
Kretzer of gave a moving personal testimony of her own struggle with abortion and described the mission of Rachel’s Vineyard, which is to help post-abortive women overcome the pain and loss they feel surrounding their abortion.
She and others who know that pain help women recognize the trauma they have endured.
“It helps people to know that abortion does hurt,” said Kretzer, who has spent much of her time battling the narrative that abortion is a social good. While those who support legal abortion insist that it alleviates pain and suffering, Kretzer knows firsthand how damaging it is, and not just to the woman.
“It reaches way beyond the woman who has to endure the medical procedure,” said Kretzer, a member of St. John’s Anglican Church in Southampton.
Referring to the “shockwaves” of abortion, she pointed out that men too are “hurting in different ways than women, but they are hurting.”
Reaching men is an important part of the ministry of Silent No More. “A lot of women who have had abortions are just waiting for the men to step up and say ‘no,’ and they don’t, so the women go through with it,” Kretzer said. “We’re looking for men to step up and speak on behalf of the men who are hurt by abortion. There aren’t enough voices.”
Using her voice to promote A Baby’s Breath is the focus of Anne Ruegner. Even though the pregnancy-assistance organization has locations all around the Philadelphia area including in Phoenixville, Collegeville, Warminster and Wayne, few people are familiar with the services offered for women.
Those include receive free pregnancy tests, ultrasound tests, housing assistance, adoption services and more, all of which are part of the mission to ensure that every mother sees her baby’s first breath.
“We need financial donations,” said Reugner, a member of Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Warminster, as well as “volunteers that can help us get our name out there in the public.”
She told the symposium participants that her organization needs help getting word out “that we’re located where we are, and that we have a plethora of services to provide to women, men, and families.”
A Baby’s Breath is looking for anyone who can help with time or talents, especially those with experience in marketing and spreading awareness, she added.
Something all three of these organizations have in common is that they are disproving the misconception that the pro-life movement only cares about babies before they are born. Each of the leaders believes their message is having an impact.
“I want to work with (them) this coming year,” said Mary Linski, a symposium attendee and president of the Villa Maria Academy Pro-Life Club. “Any of the drives we do can go to any of these groups.”
The club has raised money, collected diapers and done a number of other projects aimed at helping mothers in need, which is what Sunday’s symposium – and the pro-life movement as a whole – is all about.
“I’m hoping we can create a greater awareness of the different groups who are out there,” said Karl Jones of the OLGC Knights of Columbus. “We made some donations to some organizations – and three of them were here today – and thought, ‘why don’t we invite them to speak here at the parish?’”
The symposium is just one example of how the pro-life movement is alive and well at Our Lady of Good Counsel. In June, the parish will be dedicating a monument to the unborn. The dedication falls on June 24, the feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.
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