On the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I was deeply disappointed that I was unable to be present at Christ Cathedral for the commemorative Mass. As you know, pro-life issues are of utmost importance to me, but I was dealing with the symptoms of a head cold and still recuperating from the effects of the coronavirus which I contracted in early December. I am grateful that Bishop Thanh Thai Nguyen, a great preacher and speaker, was able to celebrate this Mass….
Mom spent most of her life living the concept of prenatal justice. For her it was not just words or theories, but her personal and professional life was a profound witness to the many facets of prenatal justice. After being a staff nurse in labor and delivery for many years she and some of her nurse friends spent even more years driving 200 miles round trip, two days a week— to Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, Illinois. The result was her getting two master’s degrees in Maternal Child Health so, as she told me, she could teach pro-life values (in today’s terminology “prenatal justice”) to student nurses….
Some of my fondest memories are of her telling me all these inspiring stories. Her dedication to the health and welfare of preborn life, and to the mothers, was a constant witness and inspiration—not only to those who knew her closely, but also to the students for whom she advocated. On one particular night at home, I remember Mom speaking with one of the student nurses who often “babysat” for us, who was trying to assist in a complicated delivery and be of support to the father. She was trying to give the student nurse advice and support her as well. And Mom was absolutely insistent that a nursing education should be accessible to those who might not be able to afford it. That is one reason why our family has established a scholarship in her memory at St. John’s College School of Nursing.
Friends of my mother, like Joan “Fritzie” Belz and Joan Reardon, also made sure that her values lived on by founding a place called The Care Center—a wonderful resource available to both mothers and children so that they can indeed “choose life.”
My mother, I know, was very deeply disturbed by the decision of Roe v. Wade and what she foresaw as its consequences. The witness of Mom (and friends of hers like Joan, Fritzie and others) always come back to me during this time and remind me — unlike caricatures which I occasionally see — that my prenatal justice convictions and witness were given to me and taught by the witness of dedicated women like Mom. She taught me, and so many others, that being pro-life and pro-woman go hand in hand….
The above comes from a Feb. 1 essay in OC Catholic by Bishop Kevin Vann of the Diocese of Orange.