Fighting Abortion With the Eucharist
Groups bring Blessed Sacrament to places where modern-day Holy Innocents are slaughtered.
The Eucharist is being used more and more as a way to save unborn children and convert those who favor abortion.
As the United States prepares to mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, adoration chapels across the country are being set up next to abortion businesses. It’s a growing movement that Father Steve Imbarrato, chaplain of Holy Innocents Chapel in Albuquerque, N.M., says he hopes will increase.
“I want to promote Eucharistic adoration to fight abortion,” Father Imbarrato said. As the director for Project Life, he said everything he does to promote life involves the Eucharist. “The chapel is the spiritual center of all our pro-life work,” he stated.
By setting up a Eucharistic chapel, Jesus has a close, permanent presence right next to the enemy. “Our Lord has been across the street from the Planned Parenthood clinic here for almost 12 years,” Father Imbarrato said. “It began when our bishop gave permission for the Eucharist to be kept in a tabernacle in an office cubicle across the street.” When the priest was asked to oversee the chapel in 2004, he formed a 501(c)(3) for Project Defending Life. The landlord, not happy with the makeshift chapel, was threatening to throw them out.
That’s when another 3,000 square-foot office space became vacant just 50 feet from the facility. The group moved there and renamed it Holy Innocents Chapel. Mass is celebrated there three days a week.
“We’ve been taking Our Lord in procession after Mass, two days a week, and we just added a third day,” Father Imbarrato said. An average of 30 or more participants join in a Rosary and other prayers before processing back.
When Father Price Oswalt, a priest of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, heard Father Imbarrato’s story on Catholic radio, he said he knew he wanted to get the Eucharist as close to the local abortion facility as he could. “If we can get people praying with Our Lord on the front lines, we can change everything,” he said. “Darkness cannot exist in light; the presence of God’s goodness will change hearts and minds.”
‘Everything Has a Price’
When the question of financing came up, Father Oswalt said Father Imbarrato told him not to worry. “Father said, ‘Just let people know about your plan, and God will provide the money.” That is exactly what happened. “People started donating, including a $25,000 and a $35,000 check,” Father Oswalt said. “I was going to rent a building, but people said, ‘Why don’t you buy one?’”
A building is in the process of being purchased. Father Oswalt said the Holy Innocents Chapel will be operational as soon as possible. His goal is perpetual adoration to pray without ceasing against the evil taking place next door. “The clinic doctor murders scores of babies six days a week,” he said.
Initially, a building nearby was not even for sale, but a pro-life businessman assured Father Oswalt, “Father, everything is for sale for a price.” Sure enough, the owner of a building 21 feet from the abortion business was looking to pay off a debt, so he accepted an offer. Ironically, he warned the future buyers, “The only thing wrong with this building is that there’s a doctor next door who does women things, so sometimes there are protesters.” The buyers did not reveal that they were the protesters.
Although money readily came forward, many details had to be addressed. The bishop needed to give permission to reserve the Blessed Sacrament, which he did as long as the chapel can be properly staffed with volunteers for perpetual adoration. There need to be at least 168 people — two per hour — to commit to an hour a day, seven days a week, before the Blessed Sacrament. Attorneys volunteered to file the legal papers for Holy Innocents Foundation of Oklahoma’s nonprofit status. They also made sure the chapel would be in compliance of city rules for setting up churches and holding processions.
After all this work, what if the abortionist moves to some quieter location? “If he moves, we move,” Father Oswalt said. “We will follow him wherever he goes.”
‘The Lord Is There’
In Robbinsdale, Minn., right next to an abortion facility, there is a renovated home that has served as a Eucharistic chapel for three years. The Eucharist is reserved in a back bedroom, and a 10-foot crucifix and five-foot statue of Mary sits in the front yard. Father Thomas Duffner meets with a group on the property every Saturday, rain or shine, where they pray 15 decades of the Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
“The Lord is there,” Father Duffner said. “There’s no question that there is power in this. I have no doubt whatsoever.” He said that just as the whole Church is being renewed through perpetual adoration, so too the fight against abortion is being renewed through the Eucharist. “We go to the abortion clinic, to the foot of the cross, where Jesus is suffering; and through the Eucharist, he is there with us.”
In North Dakota, there are no abortionists and only one business. Practitioners come from out of state, usually on Wednesdays, to perform abortions. Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo said that the Visitation Chapel opened on the third floor of an office building directly across from the abortion facility this past June. “I opened it with the first Mass,” the bishop said. “There is Mass every Wednesday at 8am and adoration from 8:30 until 4pm, the time abortions are done.”
The Fargo Respect Life Office directs the chapel, but it relies completely on donations from the laity. “The response has been very positive,” said Bishop Aquila. “People come from all over to pray here. They see the chapel as a real witness to the dignity of the unborn.”
Bishop Aquila, who presides over an annual Eucharistic procession on Respect Life Sunday, cautions that it is important to involve the local bishop and study the rules for establishing a chapel and holding processions.
“Certainly, with our belief in the Eucharist as the body, blood and divinity of Jesus Christ, we are putting our trust in the second Person of the Trinity to assist in the battle against the culture of death,” he said. “Jesus is the one who gives life. We know that Our Lord is with us in this battle.”
Register correspondent Patti Maguire Armstrong writes from Bismarck, North Dakota.