National Catholic Register


New Life

Father Pavone Baptizing Babies Saved From Abortion



August 10-16, 2008 Issue | Posted 8/5/08 at 11:30 AM


ALLENTOWN, Pa. — What started out as a “routine” prolife weekend last November turned into something extraordinary. The Diocese of Allentown sponsored a visit from Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life. It was just one stop of many for the priest to bolster a local pro-life community through prayer vigils, the sacraments and words of encouragement.

Then Allentown pro-lifers told Father Pavone some joyful news. Mothers Yadira Rodriguez and Arelis Grullon had showed up for their appointments at the Allentown Women’s Center, where they met sidewalk counselors.

Rodriguez took a brochure into the building but quickly came out again, horror stricken, when faced with pictures of abortion. Grullon didn’t get that far. A Spanish-speaking counselor explained to her the grim reality of the procedure and offered hopeful alternatives.

Father Pavone pledged to return and baptize the two infants. That joyful event took place July 12 at Notre Dame Church in Bethlehem, Pa., during the monthly Mass of the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants.

“This is a celebration of victory for the entire movement on behalf of life,” he said, welcoming the large, enthusiastic congregation. “God, who calls us to human life, also calls us to share his divine life.”

No one knows that better than the godparents, who were the counselors at the door those fateful days.

“We take our responsibility very seriously,” says Katie Teay-Platek, godmother to Rodriguez’s daughter, Shaelyn. “It’s not just a one-day thing.”

In addition to supporting them in their return to faith, the godparents give emotional and financial assistance to the families.

Godfather Don Cummings has helped baby Brandon’s mother, Grullon, get a better job and fix her car. Godmother Joyce Mazalewski went so far as to care for two other children she has saved.

“They’re still in my life,” she said. “We don’t just save the babies and then ‘see you later.’”

Also in attendance that day was Magdalena Sweet, a woman who once had an abortion and now devotes herself to telling other frightened girls the truth. “The day of my abortion, I was 12 weeks pregnant and there was no one there defending life.”

This commitment of prayer, witness and follow-up brings concrete meaning to Father Pavone’s homily, “Our message is the message Jesus says to all of us: I am with you.”

Real People

The celebration was the middle part of a trio of events which Father Pavone hopes will emphasize the humanity of the unborn child. On June 27, he conducted a funeral for seven babies found in a Detroit dumpster.

On July 27, he did the same for three babies at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville, Ala. “We are purposefully making these events very public,” he stated.

The logic? Real people have baptisms and funerals. Unborn babies are real people. Their lives should be celebrated and their deaths mourned. “We cannot let these realities remain hidden.”

Since seeing the reality of abortion made all the difference to Rodriguez, she now brings the same message to other desperate women. Along with Shaelyn’s father, Jose, and 4-year-old son Elijah — who was baptized with his sister — she has returned to the clinic as a witness to the joy of choosing life.

Susie Lloyd is based in

Whitehall, Pennsylvania.