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BY Barb Ernster
Michael John Poirier had long been singing about forgiveness when, in 1990, his 79-year-old grandmother was murdered. Then, he recalls, he felt he had to put his words into action: Forgive the killer or have his soul tormented by anger and vengeance.
Through a series of fateful events, Poirier's music is now helping thousands of post-abortive women and men address a similar type of torment as they work through the process of grief and forgiveness in their lives.
One of those events was meeting his wife, Mary, in 1993. She told him in their first conversation that she had had three abortions and felt called to talk about song “Forgiven.” Ironically, that song was written years earlier when “out of the blue,” Michael got the idea of a child from her, and it brought him to tears. Mary had this very experience in 1988 when a priest in Medjugorje led her through the sacrament of reconciliation and had her name each of her aborted babies. Afterward, Mary recounts, she looked up at the clouds and heard three small voices in her heart say, “We love you Mommy!”
“I thought, how could they love me after what I did?” she says. “But all I could feel was love and joy. It was truly my little ones embracing me.”
Michael and Mary Poirier have two children of their own today and together are spreading the mercy of God through their full-time ministry, Holy Family apostolate in Edmond, Okla. Combining Michael's music with Mary's testimony, the apostolate offers concerts, recorded music, retreats and conferences.
The Poiriers believe God's mercy, especially the Divine Mercy message conveyed by St. Faustina, is flowing into the pro-life movement — and is crucial to the movement's success.
“It feels like the pro-life movement was setting down roots for years and now it's beginning to blossom, and mercy is the fragrance of that blossom,” says Michael. “It's going to get the attention of the world because nothing can stop mercy.”
Out of nine CDs he's recorded, the songwriter thinks his latest, Healing After the Choice, could be his most important. Its 17 songs follow an abortive woman's journey to forgiveness and healing. The CD includes a number titled “Kathryn, John and Mary,” a song Michael wrote to honor Mary's aborted children.
The CD jacket includes Mary's testimony. Clearly, her story has inspired her husband's work.
“I think back to my early years in the pro-life movement to where I am now, and I know I actively withheld mercy,” says Michael. “We all have to examine the spirit with which we work for unborn life. Am I defending unborn life and at the same time rejecting the woman and man who have lost children to abortion? Will I be guilty at the judgment that I aborted [their attempts] to come back to God?”
“A More Merciful Time”
Michael says post-abortive outreach is necessary if the pro-life movement is to succeed. With 42 million children aborted, there are at least 60 to 80 million grieving parents in America, he says, and it is their stories that will change hearts — and laws.
Mary says that, after giving her testimony, many women can't even look her in the eyes, but she knows it's an opportunity for them to examine their hearts. “There are so many people walking around thinking they can never be forgiven,” she says. “There's a lot of anger and emotion involved, but the Holy Spirit is leading the [pro-life] movement into a more merciful time.”
The Poiriers have set up a Web site for post-abortive outreach. Healingafterthechoice.com offers resources for post-abortive ministries and provides three ways for parents to memorialize their child or children. Michael's music can also be purchased through the site.
The main goal for the Healing CD and Web project, says Rebecca Even, is to provide a musical journey to the truth of God's mercy, love and forgiveness — and to provide a place where eyewitnesses to abortion can share their stories and help change hearts and minds. Even, former director of communications for the U.S. attorney's office in Phoenix, Ariz., assists the Poiriers with marketing and communications.
In deciding on the concept for the site, Even says she kept coming back to the story of Genesis and man's choice. “A sin is a sin — God hates it all,” she says. “The word “choice” in our culture goes right to abortion, but choice is anything that separates us from God. We all need healing from the choices we've made.”
The Web site and the CD feature an artist's rendition of the Garden of Eden showing two directions that women with unplanned pregnancies can go — before the choice and after the choice.
Monika Rodman, director of After the Choice, a post-abortion outreach program of the Respect Life Office in the Diocese of Oakland, Calif., collaborated with Even on the CD project. After meeting her at a Holy Hour retreat given by the Poiriers in the diocese, Rodman was surprised to learn that Michael's music was not widely known. She had been using the music for years in her post-abortion programs and found it to be a very powerful tool in ministering to the women. She and Even selected the songs for the CD based on Rodman's experiences with post-abortive women.
“God uses many different tools to bring a person to a point where they can recognize truth,” says Rodman. “I think [Michael's] music has a role in that. It has been a gateway for many participants in our program to be open to God's healing touch.”
At press time, the CD and Web site were to be launched at the Rachel's Vineyard national retreat and training conference in Oklahoma City on June 24. The CD distributor, World Library Publications, is offering copies of the CD to tax-exempt pro-life groups involved in post-abortion healing at a special wholesale price for resale, to help raise funds for their work.
Michael says Mary's greatest impact on him was her powerful conversion, which has inspired his own conversion. He hopes the CD will do the same for others.
“It's like God is telling me that all these years you've been so concerned about your ministry, how do you know that I haven't been preparing you all this time to support Mary and her ministry?” he says. “I would love to do whatever it takes to get her story out. It's not the kind of story that anybody in their right mind would want to tell, so it has to be God's mercy at work.”
Barb Ernster writes from Fridley, Minnesota.