Pro-life advocates have strengthened and refined their arguments over the past three decades. Life-affirming pregnancy centers have expanded and improved their services. Post-abortion ministries have fostered healing. Abstinence organizations have offered preventive solutions to the abortion crisis.
All this pro-life activity is part of a noble response to the call to defend the sanctity of life. But defeating the culture of death will ultimately require more than human action. Only the Author of Life can bring about resurrection from the dead.
The founders of Laity for Life, which celebrated its first anniversary last December — on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, no less — recognize the need for divine intervention on behalf of the culture of life. The rapidly expanding organization seeks to offer the highest form of prayer, the Mass, for all those involved in the pro-life movement. In this Eucharistic mystery, they point out, we join our prayers to the sacrifice that defeated death once and for all.
According to Patricia Bucalo, co-founder and president of Laity for Life, “The Mass is not only ‘the source and summit of Christian life’ but also the epicenter of all pro-life motivation and energy. What better way to support pro-life activists than by invoking the boundless graces of the Mass on their behalf?”
Bucalo and her co-founder, Kathleen Sullivan, identified a threefold mission for their organization. One goal is to train Catholics, particularly the young, how to articulate a convincing defense of the sanctity of life. Through events like their recent theology of the body conference, Laity for Life educates, forms and inspires potential pro-life leaders.
Another goal is to encourage financial assistance for pro-life efforts. The main goal of Laity for Life, however, is to provide moral and spiritual support to lay Catholics active in the pro-life movement.
“Arranging as many Masses for pro-life servants as we possibly can, as often as possible, is our primary mission,” says Bucalo. “We envision an ocean of grace engulfing the entire pro-life movement, acting as its continual source of strength, courage and renewal.”
Their method is a simple one. Via their website, laityforlife.org, and the distribution of brochures, they encourage people across the country to go to their parish or a local monastery and request that one or more Masses be offered for the intention of “Laity for Life and all those involved in the pro-life movement.” To keep tabs on all the prayers being offered, the group maintains a Book of Masses, requesting that anyone who has a Mass said for this intention calls or e-mails Laity for Life to let them know about it.
Membership is open to anyone who wishes to join in the effort by having a Mass said. But the actual operations of the organization depend on the efforts of members who are actively involved on the board of directors and the advisory council.
Even in its first months of existence, Laity for Life received the support of highly respected pro-life leaders now serving on the advisory council, including Father Frank Pavone (national director of Priests for Life), Joseph Scheidler (national director of the Pro-Life Action League) and Father Thomas Euteneuer (president of Human Life International).
In his years of involvement with national and international pro-life leaders and organizations, Father Euteneuer has observed that those who have the greatest impact are those who understand the centrality of prayer.
“When I was asked to become a partner in this new organization I immediately said Yes because I knew it would be a success: Prayer is the organization’s very mission,” says Father Euteneuer. “I certainly do not eschew action — that is essential to this fight. Yet action without a prayer foundation is not likely to have much effect. With persevering Eucharistic prayer, we will see the erosion of the abortion culture in our world.”
Meanwhile the group’s board of directors consists of individuals who have long been dedicated to the pro-life cause. Lucia Barone, for example, also serves as chairman of the board for Collier Pregnancy Centers in Naples, Fla., where Laity for Life was launched.
Given the nature of her work, she understands the importance of a ministry like Laity for Life.
“As a volunteer board member of a life-affirming pregnancy medical center, I see first hand the battle that exists between the culture of life and the culture of death that permeates our society,” she says. “Our staff at the center needs to be continually uplifted in prayer in order to show, by God’s grace, the love and compassion that will help a young woman choose life for her baby.”
Victory at Hand
Barone has already experienced the benefits of Laity for Life’s tangible prayer support in the work of her ministry.
“Since the formation of Laity for Life, I believe our pregnancy center has seen the blessings of those Masses as we are seeing record numbers of women coming through our doors,” she reports. “Our center is also in the process of planning for an expansion in the opening of a second clinic within close proximity of one of the abortion mills just north of us. I know that these occurrences are the fruits of those graces.”
Most pro-life ministries depend on the involvement of lay volunteers like Barone who contribute their time and energy to the cause. Laity for Life supports these dedicated men and women, helping them hold fast to their ongoing contributions to building the culture of life.
The members of Laity for Life hope to offer their fellow pro-lifers new forms of encouragement and recognition.
“We want those involved in the pro-life movement to be much more frequently reminded that they’re doing what John Paul the Great called ‘the most important work on earth,’” says Bucalo.
And what is that? Getting the word out that “Christ is already the victor in this ‘battle with principalities and powers,’” she explains. “They have all the spiritual and moral encouragement they’ll ever need to persevere right here in the Holy Catholic Church.”
Gina Giambrone writes from
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.