Culture of Life
BY JOSEPH PRONECHEN
August 20-26, 2006 Issue | Posted 8/21/06 at 9:00 AM
Praying the Rosary outside an abortion business on a Saturday with fellow Knights of Columbus and other pro-lifers, Bill Draize occasionally heard disagreeable motorists venting their opinions. “Get a life!” they’d holler. “Give it up!”
The pro-lifers would remain, soldiers undaunted.
“We looked at each other and said, ‘That’s what we’re here for,’” Draize recalls.
He and a handful of fellow Knights
from the Father Rosensteel Council No. 2169 in
But the council’s First Place Pro-Life Award at the Knights of Columbus state convention for 13 times in the last 16 years speaks volumes for those involved in this work.
“We’re trying to set a high example for other councils to follow,” says the council’s pro-life chairman, Charles (Chuck) Suraci Jr. “It’s not for the awards. What we’re doing is for the babies, for life itself.”
For years he and a small contingent of three to six fellow council members have joined with other pro-life individuals and groups to pray every Saturday outside area abortion businesses.
In the last five
years, two abortion businesses — one (Hillcrest) in northwest
“We were delighted,” Suraci says over the outcome, thinking. “Here’s one place we don’t have to go anymore to pray the Rosary. We’ve done our job.”
Past Grand Knight Bill Draize, who’s prayed at the abortion sites since 1995, feels the same.
“That was a blessing because we had some rough times down there with the abortion guards,” he says. “They were killing babies left and right. Thank God it closed.”
Draize says praying the Rosary continues at other sites.
knee problem prevents regular Saturday visits to these abortion businesses in
“He’s an extraordinary example of a Catholic layman who has seen a need and come forward,” says council chaplain Father Joseph Perkins.
Suraci credits his late wife
“I’ll never forget it because it was one morning in August and raining cats and dogs,” he says. “She said, ‘Let’s pray the Rosary for life; just grab the umbrella.’ I was ready to go up to the church, but she said, ‘No, we’re going up to the site with everybody up there to pray the Rosary.’”
Not that long after that memorable start, Suraci was praying the Rosary every Saturday at an abortion business or two, then stepping into the pro-life chairman role for Father Rosensteel Council.
The council’s pro-life work grew
to include many other events around the calendar. In January, a busload of
members goes to the national March for Life in
There are fund-raising breakfasts for the Gabriel Project and the money to fix vandalism damage at its office, and the donations for Project Rachel. As an aside, one of The Gabriel Project’s board of directors is this council’s past Grand Knight Dave Morgan. That position and being on the Knights state-level pro-life committee is a direct result of regularly joining the council’s pro-life Rosary vigils.
The annual kickoff for the council’s yearly pro-life activity begins in October, Respect for Life month. Members meet across the street from the council’s home by the old Chapel of St. John’s with its surrounding cemetery.
This location connects
hand-in-hand with the pro-life beliefs at our country’s beginnings. In 1934 the
council constructed an exact replica of the original 1770s chapel built on this
spot by the Carroll family for its first pastor, Father John Carroll, to serve
all the Catholics in
Father Carroll became the first
Archbishop Carroll no doubt is keeping a sharp eye on the council’s pro-life events that begin with a Respect Life candlelight procession and rosary commencing at the Knights’ monument to the unborn near the chapel.
The procession continues to the
Every second week of January, the
council holds a pro-life kickoff rally to prepare everyone for the
Father Perkins points out the guest speakers always inspire and reconfirm the strong commitment to pro-life work for their attendees. The council’s enlists well-known speakers like Alan Keyes and Nellie Gray, and Catholic musicians like Tony Melendez.
For the last 17 years, now retired
“It’s a very powerful, moving afternoon for the people to interest others to show up for the March for Life,” says Bishop Olivier.
“That council is very forward and strong and persevering in that particular enterprise every year,” adds the bishop. “They’re very devoted. Chuck (Suraci) calls me half a year ahead of time to make sure I can be there.”
No doubt the pro-lifers of the
Father Rosensteel Council are making a difference.
Just ask Thomas Grenchik, director of the Sanctity
for Life office of the
Joseph Pronechen writes from
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