‘Maternal love’ needed
Mother Mary Agnes Donovan, superior general of the New York-based Sisters of Life, told the 15th annual Proudly Pro-Life Dinner Jan. 16 that women, because of their “maternal heart,” have the power to reverse the abortion culture.
“At the center of the culture of death is a lie of hopelessness,” Mother Agnes told the dinner at Chateau Golf and Country Club in Kenner. “God has always combatted hopelessness through the power of a woman’s maternal love.”
Mother Agnes founded the Sisters of Life in 1991 with the blessing of the late Cardinal John O’Connor, the archbishop of New York. In addition to taking the normal religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, the Sisters of Life take a fourth vow to “protect and enhance the sacredness of human life.”
They provide hospitality and support for pregnant women and offer healing retreats for women and men who have suffered from abortion. Last April, the Sisters of Life received the Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae Medal that honors recipients for pro-life ministry.
Women helping women
Mother Agnes related the story of a pregnant woman, whom she called Michelle, who came to the sisters for help. Michelle had had a previous abortion and was considering terminating her pregnancy because she feared the consequences of having a baby.
From week to week, she would schedule an abortion, only to back out. The sisters put Michelle in touch with two single mothers, who had chosen to give birth to their children, and they served as effective mentors.
During a prenatal exam, Michelle was told by her doctor that her unborn child appeared to have spina bifida, and she was counseled that in most such cases, the mother terminates her pregnancy.
“So what are you going to do?” the doctor asked.
“I’m going to be a good mother, that’s what I’m going to do,” she replied.
The diagnosis turned out to be incorrect, and Michelle delivered a healthy baby, Mother Agnes said.
Michelle now works with the religious community as a mentor, and she helped another woman in a crisis pregnancy decide to give birth. When the woman Michelle was counseling told her she was waffling in her decision, Michelle called Mother Agnes in a panic.
“I’ve never been so worried for someone I barely know,” she told the sister. “I suppose it’s because I’m a mother now.”
Mother Agnes said women have a rare capacity “of loving in a way that another soul feels its worth.”
“God saw fit to bring salvation through the ‘yes’ of a woman to maternal love,” Mother Agnes said. “This world desperately needs women who say ‘yes’ to that same call.”
Cindy Collins, who founded the Slidell Pregnancy Help Center, received the 2014 Proudly Pro-Life Award for her compassionate ministry of offering women life-giving alternatives to abortion. She also ministers to women involved in sex trafficking, especially on Bourbon Street.
“As a young woman, I never thought I’d be on Bourbon Street again, at the age of 59, ministering to young women,” Collins said. “The work is hard, and our enemy is evil.”
Collins said women who have had abortions can stand up and offer witness against the lie that abortion is free choice.
“A woman healed from her abortion is an arrow right in the heart of the enemy’s camp,” Collins said.