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Respect life movement fosters vocation

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Since high school, I have been drawn deeply to the respect life movement. Not only is pro-life activism extremely important, I have come to know some remarkable people who have been great mentors for me. Looking back, I think there are many ways the respect life movement has been preparing me to become, God willing, a priest.

First, mercy. No sooner was I reminded of the heartbreak of abortion than I was told of the mission of mercy. If I am to do anything in the pro-life movement, I must empathize with those who have had abortions by understanding the difficulties they have faced. I have come to know several energetic activists and church workers who labor tirelessly to offer alternatives to abortion and to help heal the wounds of those who have had abortions. Not surprisingly, many people who have been involved in an abortion and subsequent healing ministries are now themselves engaged in the pro-life movement.

As a seminarian, this foundation of mercy has fostered within me a strong desire to heal the spiritual wounds caused by abortion through the sacrament of reconciliation. Priests must be men of mercy. 

Second, prayer. Every aspect of the respect life movement is permeated by prayer. Eucharistic adoration, the holy rosary and daily Mass attendance are viewed as ways to grow closer to Christ and his Mother, who can transform our own lives and lead others to conversion. Through these experiences of prayer, I have developed valuable prayer habits that have prepared me for a life of prayer as a seminarian.

Third, evangelization. People need Christ. Through “sidewalk counseling” and prayers at abortion facilities, we have helped many mothers find alternatives to abortion, but in most cases, we are far too late. This realization has been a strong motivating force for me to evangelize through the priesthood to save both eternal and earthly lives.

One activist noted how fitting it is that Our Lady of Guadalupe is called both the patroness of the respect life movement and the star of the new evangelization. His thinking is that evangelization in the 21st century will necessarily touch on abortion not because it is an important part of the faith, but because it is often an obstacle to fully embracing the faith. I hope that through Our Lady of Guadalupe’s intercession, I will be able to bring people to Christ as a priest.

If you feel called to do pro-life activities, there are plenty of ways to learn and get involved. This includes prayer, educational and legislative initiatives, as well as offering pregnancy assistance. Check with your parish to see how you can help. You might be exactly the person your pastor is looking for.

Perhaps you can be a motherly figure to a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy through Gabriel Project. Maybe you are called to bring the pro-life message to a population for which there are not many resources. Maybe you are a student who can start a pro-life group at your school.

In any case, I have found that pro-life work is a way to deepen your relationship with Christ and perhaps a path to a lifelong calling.

Flaherty, who is from St. Charles Borromeo Church in Arlington, is in his second year of pre-theology studies at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.


Find out more


Contact Diocesan Respect Life Director Amy McInerny at respectlife@arlingtondiocese.org or call 703/841-2817.


For students interested in starting a pro-life group at your school, go to studentsforlife.org.




© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019