March 3, 2022: it is the second day of the spring 40 Days for Life campaign in Ventura. The calendar is mostly empty, not surprising as the campaign gathers momentum. But Thursdays are already full. Students from nearby Thomas Aquinas College have signed up to take practically every hour of the Lenten vigil. At 7:00 am, they’re already standing on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood, a bit tired but smiling, rosaries in hand.
The prayerful transformation
It wasn’t always this way. Twenty five years ago, students at the liberal arts college had little involvement with pro-life activism. Understandably so. Immersed in a challenging Great Books curriculum, they spent their days in class and their evenings reading Plato, Aristotle, and St. Augustine. In between, many students sandwiched work study hours. Finding time to pray in front of an abortion clinic was difficult. In addition, there was an acknowledgement that to spend four years at the tiny Catholic college was to take a break from the world to contemplate the truth. The campus’s remote location, nestled in the mountains outside of Santa Paula, California, reinforces this sense.
That all began to change in the fall of 1997, when a dark haired, green eyed sophomore named Angela Baird spoke to a group of friends about praying at Family Planning Associates, an abortion clinic on a tree-lined street in midtown Ventura.
Angela was no stranger to pro-life activism. Since ninth grade she had been a sidewalk counselor in her hometown of Spokane, Washington. During her first year of college, that activism had taken a back seat to some very typical freshman concerns: balancing classes and work-study, finding her place in the campus community. She loved parties, country music, hanging out with friends, and was outspokenly opinionated in class.
At the beginning of her sophomore year, however, friends and faculty noticed a change. Angela became serious about her prayer life and would frequently sneak away to the small college chapel. “It was a very noticeable thing,” says Marie (Sale) Daly, who was in her classes that year. “She had always been loving and kind—that was not something new to her—but she just seemed very peaceful.”
“Last year she was a typical restless teenager,” college chaplain Father Bart de la Torre told National Catholic Register later, “and this year she had become a calm, prayerful, peaceful woman.”
Not surprising, then, that Angela’s new seriousness led her to unite a deeper prayer life with her longtime zeal for the unborn. That fall of 1997, she and a few friends began going to the abortion clinic each Thursday—the day when Family Planning Associates scheduled surgical abortions. On the sidewalk, they prayed the rosary, handed out literature, and counseled women who were going into the clinic. It was a half hour drive to and from campus, and a thankless job: there were honks of support but also raised middle fingers and ugly expressions of rage.
The first Wednesday of November, Thomas Aquinas students were enjoying a mid-semester break. The weather was balmy and a group of students, including Angela, planned an evening hike and overnight camping trip in the mountains. They would hike down the next day in time for the weekly trip to Family Planning Associates. Around 6:30 pm, they set off up the trail, carrying backpacks, coats and flashlights. The trail was familiar, even at night: they were headed to the “Punchbowls,” natural pools that were a popular hiking spot.
Jon Daly, a junior at the time, was at the back of the group with Angela. Ironically, Jon was an expert rock climber and had taken Angela and some other students rock climbing earlier that day. Jon noted later how carefully she followed the climbing safety rules her dad, a safety instructor, had taught her.
But neither was aware that part of the trail they were hiking had washed away. As they climbed the last hill before the Punch Bowls, Angela turned to say something to Jon, took a step back, slipped, and disappeared into the darkness before he could stop her.
The pause before Jon heard the impact told him Angela had fallen a great distance. He quickly found a short cut and ran down to the base of the cliff. “This was a fall of 70 feet, straight down onto rock,” he said in a 2017 interview. “There was nothing along the way to break her fall.” He found Angela laying next to the cliff, conscious but struggling to speak.
Two students ran for help. Others stayed with Angela, trying to keep her warm and awake until paramedics arrived. Daly used a shirt to cover a large gash on her head.
During that time, said Daly, “She never complained. She never cried out in pain.”
“For aborted babies.”
When the students realized that Angela might be dying, Jon asked her what she wanted to pray for.
Angela responded “for aborted babies,” Daly wrote later to her parents, Michael and Peggy Baird. “I will never forget that reply; her love for the unborn and the aborted is one of the most beautiful things about Angela’s life….”
The above comes from an April 27 story by Monica Seeley in Catholic World Report.
A martyr’s death comes in many disguises.
She didn’t die being persecuted for the faith, so not a martyr.
No, just a saint – – an exemplar of heroic virtue.
She offered the final moments of her life for the persecuted others, clearly many ways of martyrdom.
Suffering through the idiotic comments of posters on internet message boards ought to qualify.
Martyr means witness, to Jesus and all that He brings to humanity. This woman gave witness to the sacredness of life, the glory of motherhood, the power of God to create human life, the evil of ending life in the womb. She was on her way to witness, to martyr herself that day when her life ended. While her life was not taken by another human being as was being done in the abortuary where she was going, her being was one of witness, of martyrdom to Jesus in the arena of saving the life of the child, the souls of the mothers and of those overcome by the devil who kill children in the womb. She was a martyr
Fr. Richard Perozich — Thank you.
Why were those kids allowed to go hiking and rock climbing at night? With no college adult chaperones? And why was a co-ed camp-out allowed? When I was in college, long ago, none of this would ever have been allowed! And nobody ever went rock-climbing– extremely dangerous! We just had picnics and some hiking and biking, always in the daytime, always supervised. Dorm sign-ins and sign-outs, dress code, curfews, bedtime and getting up at regular hours, dorm mothers, single sex dorns only, meals together at fixed hours, study hours, rukes. A stable, protected, and good, much more successful college life!
They were adults, not kids. The trail was unexpectedly washed out, otherwise it wasn’t a dangerous trail.
No, they were not adults, they were college kids with no adult supervision and poor judgment.
Excuse me. A sophomore and a junior in college are ages 20 and 21. Those are adults. We don’t need no nanny state such as you want to impose. This is America, where people are free and age 18 is considered legal age of adulthood. Sometimes younger adults do stupid things, sometimes bad things happen through nobody’s fault. Just one of those things. Are you her mom or something and looking for someone to blame? Nobody is to blame. Just one of those things.
You really do not understand at all. Age does not matter. A school is responsible for the safety and welfare of students. And young people away from home, need and deserve to be cared about– with proper guidance and protection from harm, when attending a school. Long ago, everyone– all ages, kids and adults– were expected to obey rules in the Church and in society. One big “no-no” would be, of course– “No co-ed dorms or camp-outs.” There are also dangerous wild animals, such as bears and mountain lions, in the mountains. And all sorts of other dangers– especially at night. It is also a terrible injustice, sending kids out to fight abortion– the cowardly clergy should lead this fight. And train all Catholics with good morals. Then, with strong clerical leadership, the problem of abortion will end.
There is an error in my comment of April 30 at 5:19am. The final word in my next-to-the-last sentemce should be “rules,” not “rukes!”
The group of kids were climbing up a trail– at night, with flashlights. Then, Angela “disappeared into the darkness.” This would never have happened with proper adult supervision on a college campus– they would not be hiking up there at night, no adult supervision. We never did such things as college kids, and never did rock climbing either, nor anything dangerous like that. Poor judgment. Simple day picnics and day hikes only, with adult supervision, always. Once, I and another Catholic girl got stung by a bee. Two priests and several adult chaperones were there, and we got first aid, and help to return back to school. We were in pain, and laughed, both of us offering up our pain to Jesus. What if a wild animal– a mountain lion, bear, etc.– had been around, and attacked a student?? You don’t send a kid to college for these unsupervised accidents to suddenly occur– in the dark, when climbing hils with cliffs and big drop-offs.
You forgot to mention that the Catholic girls went on that night hike with icky boys. I’m sure you never did anything with icky boys. Cuz they’re icky. Respectable Catholic girls don’t mingle with boys. They’re icky, after all. And Satan uses them to tempt good Catholic girls. Catholic girls should just pray and have tea time and daytime picnics with other girls. Maybe bike riding is okay, but not with boys. Don’t do anything with icky boy tempters. Word of advice to all you good, Catholic girls reading this.
icky, stop trolling.
When I went to college, nobody went backpacking or rock climbing. We carried our schoolbooks, no such thing as a “backpack” to carry them. We only went on occasional daytime hikes, on a Saturday morning, maybe– and only for a few hours, no backpacks– but maybe someone might bring a knapsack with some water and snacks. It was’t really hiking, either– just short walks, and time spent with friends, enjoying the beauty of Nature.
Whoever wants to save their life will lose it…
Up until the late 1960s, our society had good standards and rules to follow and adhere to, for everyone — kids of all ages and adults. Everyone was happy to follow rules. Our society was much better, much nicer, and much safer, then. I recall my dad, always concerned with safety, who loved to fly, and made a boat in our backyard, one summer, and took us on weekends to go boating on a river beside our city, with a few other families who also had boats. The river was very popular, but actually, all rivers can be dangerous, and there were many incidents of drownings. Our mom always made sure we wore our life jackets. When I was about age 6 or 7, my dad gave up two things– his pilot’s license and his boat (sold it) because he was very safety-conscious, and wanted our family to always be safe– and for us all to grow up with a father who was alive and well. No taking chances.
Yeah but back then you didn’t have cell phones with 911. Help is just a phone call away today.
“Everyone was happy to follow rules.” Except the mob.
No, cell phones are useless, in cases of accidents, in extreme emergencies. Americans today, are now quite protected from, and are very unfamiliar with many possible dangers, that our ancestors once faced, daily. Our ancestors knew, worked with, and understood Nature very well, and were very familiar with it– their very survival depended on it, and on good judgment! Rivers can be very deceptive and tricky, and oceans, too. Non-commercial light planes and helicopters can be tricky and untrustworthy at times, even with very experienced pilots. The “great outdoors” has many hidden– and sudden!– dangers! Best to “stay safe!”
If that cross is on public property, it’s an unauthorized landmark and it should be removed.
No. This poor girl’s loving family and friends should come each year, bringing flowers, and pray at the cross marking the place where this poor girl died.
The story of a death like that even 25 years ago provokes very strong emotions in us, doesn’t it? We respond almost reflexively with shock and angry, tangential statements because we personalize the story and make it part of our own experience. To those troubled and angered by this shocking death, you did not cause her fall. You did not do this. Be at peace because it sounds like she is….
Whatever the situation, may her prayer for the end to legalized abortion be answered with a resounding “Yes!.