God Works in Mysterious Ways. Sometimes.
It is often said that God sometimes works in mysterious ways. Sometimes, however, He doesn’t. Sometimes the answer is so much simpler than anyone thought. But amazing nonetheless.
Father Steve Mattson of the Church of the Resurrection parish can recall praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet in front of Lansing Michigan’s last free standing abortion clinic. He recalls praying fervently for the closing of the clinic. He didn’t know how it could happen but he prayed nonetheless.
Fr. Mattson prays for many things including helping out his local Catholic schools by attracting a group of Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, to teach in them. He knew they received requests from all over the country but he requested anyway and prayed. And that prayer was answered when he learned that four nuns would indeed come.
Of course, with that solution, a new problem presented itself. Where would the nuns live?
In a phone conversation with me, Fr. Mattson told me that “it became evident that they would need a large space to support their cloistered home life together as well as a more ‘public’ space for their chapel and an area where they would be able to host visitors.
He searched for housing for them for more than a month and finally decided that the parish rectory and office would be the most suitable location for their new convent. That solution too led to a new problem. Where to put the rectory and parish offices?
He prayed and prayed and began searching for rental properties within a two mile area. “As time passed, the Lord made clear that our need for temporary office space and our parish commitment to pray and fast to end abortion might come together providentially,” he said. Fr. Mattson set his sights on the last free-standing abortion clinic in Lansing “WomanCare” which was just under a mile away from the rectory.
“Encouraged by the prayers of the faithful at our parish, we began to explore whether the owners of the building where WomanCare is housed would consider leasing the space to the Church of the Resurrection instead of the abortionist,” he said.
Fr. Mattson inquired and it turned out that the abortionists did not have a lease at all but rented month to month. A few months later, on behalf of the Church of the Resurrection, Bishop Earl Boyea officially signed a 33-month lease [in the building] and now the clinic is set to close. The lease is set to go into effect on October 1st –the Feast Day of St. Therese of Lisieux, “the Little Flower.”
“Our offices will eventually be in the south suite, where the abortionist is located presently, and the north suite will be a place for support and formation of various pro-life ministries,” he said. “We look forward to being able to foster and support greater collaboration and formation among pro-life groups in our community.”
Fr. Mattson said that when he proposed this to Bishop Boyea he also requested to have a chapel on site “where we could pray together for healing, reparation, and for a greater outreach of love in our community.” Bishop Boyea readily granted his permission to have a chapel at the location. Fr. Mattson said they will be sure to bless the space as they get set to move in.
I spoke with the diocese and Bishop Boyea said, "I am so grateful for the ongoing witness to life which Resurrection Parish continues to provide."
In speaking Fr. Mattson I couldn’t help but think of great St. Augustine quote which says "Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you."
There are reports that the clinic may not open elsewhere. But Fr. Mattson doesn’t see the closing of the clinic as the end. He sees it as the beginning. An opportunity. “For years, members of our parish have joined with men and women from many other Lansing churches to pray at that location. Our prayers have been for the women (and girls) along with others in their lives who believe that abortion is "the only option."
He said that the goal has always for women to consider loving alternatives to abortion. “We know that many girls and women feel desperate and unsupported, and believe abortion is the best choice for them,” he said. “Along with other men and women of good will, we want them to know that there are options.”
And Fr. Mattson will do whatever he can to help them. Oh and there will be prayers. Many many prayers.