Parish Respect Life Conference covers full range of issues

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

“Don’t give up, God is working with us,” was the clear message of a Respect Life Conference on Oct. 26 at St. Agnes Parish in Naples. The theme for the conference was “From Conception to Natural Death,” and inspirational speakers provided critical information on how to create a culture of life.

St. Agnes Pastor Father Bob Kantor said the parish conference, organized by the Justice and Peace Committee and Respect Life Coordinator Rosemary Dresch, was inspired by the 2018 Florida Respect Life Conference which was hosted by the Diocese of Venice and held in Punta Gorda.

Father Kantor added that while not many were able to attend the 2019 state conference in St. Augustine, the local conference was able to reach out to more in the parish and serve as a compliment for the efforts of Respect Life in the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Venice in hope and unity with the society and the world.

The Conference opened with Father George Ratzmann, Pastor of St. William Parish in Naples, who spoke about Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life). This 1995 encyclical of St. John Paul II which set the standard for the Church Teaching on the value and sacredness of all human life from conception to natural death.

“Anytime life is threatened or there is an assault on human life, it is also an assault on God, and God’s dignity, since we share in God’s dignity,” Father Ratzmann explained.

This culture of life is not only about biological life, Father Ratzmann stressed, but also about spiritual, economic, emotional life; including any act that diminishes any human dignity. This means that it is not enough to ensure that the unborn is saved, but that the child has access to nutrition, clean water, education and more, because that combines to assist them to become the person God intended.

Other conference speakers included Pamela Wood Stenzel on developing a culture of life among youth; Deacon Henry DeMena on healing following a loss through miscarriage; Dr. Deacon Al Mauriello on the Catholic perspective of end of life issues; Marietta Jaeger Lane on the death penalty while sharing her personal story of loss, fury and forgiveness; and Father Michael Orsi, Parochial Vicar at St. Agnes and host of local pro-life show Action for Life, on how to make a difference on pro-life issues.

Bishop speaks nationally on death penalty, assisted suicide

Staff and wire reports

October is Respect Life Month, therefore it was appropriate that Bishop Frank J. Dewane recently spoke out on two important end-of-life issues.

Speaking as the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop Dewane was part of a roundtable discussion about capital punishment on Oct. 10, the World Day Against the Death Penalty.

The discussion highlighted not only the consistency of church teaching against capital punishment but also what Catholics could do to learn more about what the Catholic Church has to say on this issue.

Bishop Dewane participated in the Catholic News Service moderated roundtable with Archbishops Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City and Wilton D. Gregory of Washington, D.C.

Bishop Dewane stressed the sacredness of human life and said that “when it is violated, when it is attacked,” we are called to step in and “become the voice for those who can’t speak” for their own lives.

The Catholic Church’s opposition to the death penalty stems from its view on the sacredness of human life and the value of mercy.

The bishops spoke about the many problems with the death penalty. Examples cited were cases where minorities were not given a jury of their peers or when DNA results have exonerated death-row prisoners. Bishop Dewane mentioned that many on death row include people of color or those in poverty or suffering from mental illness. He said society needs to look at these factors and consider not just punitive but restorative measures.

The bishops were asked about Catholic opinion of the death penalty — 53% are in favor of it, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center poll. It was agreed by the panelists that it’s important for the faithful to learn, study, and read the Teachings of the Magisterium of the Church on this issue.

From St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict and Pope Francis there has been a steady movement toward a greater clarity in terms of the morality and the inadmissibility of the death penalty.

Panelists were disturbed by the announcement this summer that the federal government rescinded its 16-year moratorium on executing federal inmates.

When talking about the families of victims the bishops agreed that the only thing that can bring healing or comfort is “mercy: being willing to forgive.”

In another pro-life initiative, on Oct. 15, Bishop Dewane co-authored a news release from the USCCB responding to a National Council on Disabilities (NCD) federal study revealing that assisted suicide laws are dangerous to people with disabilities.

In its report, “The Danger of Assisted Suicide Laws,” NCD provides several policy recommendations including urging states to not legalize any form of assisted suicide or active euthanasia. The NCD is an independent federal agency charged with advising the president, Congress, and other federal agencies regarding policies, programs, practices, and procedures that affect people with disabilities.

Bishop Dewane, along with Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, of Kansas City in Kansas, and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, praised the NCD for its “critical research and report exposing serious risks of abuse, coercion and discrimination posed by assisted suicide laws, specifically for people with disabilities.”

“Every suicide is a human tragedy, regardless of the age, incapacity, or social/economic status of the individual.,” the statement continues. “The legalization of doctor-assisted suicide separates people into two groups: those whose lives we want to protect and those whose deaths we encourage. This is completely unjust and seriously undermines equal protection under the law.”

The statement goes on to note the human rights and intrinsic worth of a person do not change with the onset of age, illness, or disability. As Pope Francis said, “True compassion does not marginalize anyone, nor does it humiliate and exclude – much less consider the disappearance of a person as a good thing.”

The bishops stated that all must do what they can to uphold the dignity of life, cherish the lives of all human beings, and work to prevent all suicides. “We urge state and federal governments, health care providers, and associations to heed this report’s warnings and recommendations, especially its opposition to assisted suicide laws,” the statement concluded.

Bishop Dewane has been chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development since 2016 and will be passing along the role to Archbishop Coakley during the Fall Meeting of the USCCB.

Catholic News Service contributed information to this report.

Midpoint Rally held for 40 Days for Life

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

On the lakefront of Vineyards Community Park in Naples like-minded people gathered to celebrate the groundswell of support for the 40 Days for Life campaign which seeks to end abortion in the United States.

A rally was held Oct. 14 to bring together two groups working for the same cause. The first group is the pro-life prayer warriors who stand in front of abortion mills peacefully raising awareness regarding every life, which is precious from the moment of conception to natural death. Also stressed was how abortion can leave lasting scars for parents of aborted children that are not always visible. The other group represented the leaders of pregnancy clinics in the area which provide much needed resources for moms in crisis who are at risk of seeking an abortion.

Deacon Gary Ingold, CEO of Community Pregnancy Clinics Inc., which has facilities in Naples, Fort Myers, Sarasota and Gainesville, as well as two mobile medical clinics which go out into the community, spoke about the mission of everyone present.

“Only the mother can nurture and protect her unborn child,” Ingold said. “It is our job to nurture and protect the mothers. We can only save the babies if we can save the moms. The only way this is possible is if we can develop a culture of life.”

Other speakers stressed the need for a modern approach to the issues by treating every mother – no matter what choice they make – with dignity, compassion, mercy and respect.

Hadley Thompson, a student at Ave Maria University, spoke about her effort to be supportive of new moms on campus through the development of a “Pregnant on Campus” outreach. The group of student volunteers serves in a supporting role for the moms who are working toward a degree by attending classes but need babysitting and other support to care for their child.

“This started out as a way to help a friend,” Thompson explained. “Now it has grown to include dozens of people who volunteer their time to create a positive environment for both mother and child.”

The rally was organized by 40 Days for Life Naples Coordinator Crystal Gabbard and moderated by Ryan Neuhaus, regional coordinator in Florida of Students for Life in America.

The 40 Days for Life Fall Campaign continues through Nov. 3 locally in Naples, Fort Myers and Sarasota. Please visit www.40daysforlife.com and search for the closest vigil site. Participants are encouraged to spend as much time as they can to be a witness for life.

Rosary Rallies for Our Lady and America

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

Faithful gathered across the Diocese of Venice and around the United States on the weekend of Oct. 13 for rosary rallies to join in prayer for our country and peace in the world.

Some 15,000 “America Needs Fatima” Public Square Rosary Rallies took place nationwide, with at least six throughout the Diocese, all to pray for America and the conversion of sinners as Our Lady of Fatima requested. Oct. 13 marked the 102nd Anniversary of the last apparition of Our Lady of Fatima and the Miracle of the Sun in Portugal.

A group of prayer warriors gathered Oct. 12 at College Parkway and Winkler Road, in front of an abortion facility, adding significance to their prayer vigil. A statue of Our Lady of Fatima was on display while the rosary was recited, prayers were said to honor Our Lady of Fatima and for the nation.

Grace McPherson participated in the rally because she believes in the “America Needs Fatima” message, that the faithful of the country need to rededicate themselves to Mary.

“Our Lady of Fatima is about love and understanding,” McPherson said. “We all need to follow the Blessed Virgin’s example to have a clearer direction and greater purpose for this country.”

Other communities in the Diocese which held vigils included St. Agnes Parish in Naples, San Pedro Parish North Port, and Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch.

The Our Lady of Fatima story begins with three children bringing their sheep to a pasture to graze when a bright light shined on them. In that light was a woman who said, “I am a lady from heaven.” The figure, deemed the Immaculate Heart of Mary, called on the children to recite the rosary every day and to pray for the world.

Every year, “America Needs Fatima” organizes thousands of Public Square Rosary Rallies across the nation to pray for America and the conversion of sinners, as Our Lady of Fatima requested. The goal is to win the heart and soul of America for Mary by spreading Our Lady’s Fatima message and promoting devotion to Her Immaculate Heart.

Diocesan news briefs late October 2019

White Mass and lecture held for medical professionals

St. Agnes Parish held its annual White Mass for medical professionals in Naples, on Oct. 18, the Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist and patron of doctors. A lecture titled “Spirituality and Health: Complete Doctoring” presented by Dr. Michael Gloth followed in the Parish Hall.

 

 

Mobile Medical Clinic blessed

Father Augustine Twum Obour, Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch, blesses the new Mobile Medical Clinic of Community Pregnancy Clinics on Oct. 20. The van, which offers free ultrasounds to pregnant moms, was made possible by a donation from the Knights of Columbus and will be used throughout the region.

 

 

Verot earns Apple Distinguished School Certification

Bishop Verot Catholic High School has earned Apple Distinguished School Certification for 2019-2022. According to Apple: “Apple Distinguished School leaders, faculty, and the extended community have a clear vision for how their technology-rich environments support learning goals. School leaders have established elements for continuous innovation that include culture, team, capacity, community, finance, and measurement. Supporting their school’s vision is an ongoing process that requires thoughtful planning, practice, and improvement along the way. They use iPad and Mac products to inspire student creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking. And they cultivate environments in which students are excited and curious about learning.”

St. Mary Academy named Best Special Needs School in region

St. Mary Academy in Sarasota has been named by Family Living Magazine as the Best Special Needs School in Sarasota, Bradenton and Venice. The schools provide skilled teaching to students with learning disabilities. To mark this achievement, the school had a celebration that included outdoor games, food and fun.

 

 

Junior high students have fun in Wauchula

St. Michael Parish in Wauchula hosted an Oct. 5 festival for junior high students. The day includes lots of fun and games, but also include speakers who stressed the need to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, time for prayer and the Mass.

 

 

 

Mooney featured on Tampa morning TV show

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota hosted FOX-13 Tampa Bay on Oct. 17. The honor coincides with the ongoing celebration of Mooney’s 60th Anniversary. The sports teams and cheerleaders led a pep rally, and the TV crew also showcased the newly renovated stadium and field.

 

 

Goldtones Tickets Now on Sale
San Antonio Parish Knights of Columbus announce that tickets are now on sale for Florida’s famous Doo-wop group the Goldtones’ concert. The concert will be 7 p.m.,  Jan. 31 in the Holy Trinity Hall, 24411 Rampart Blvd, Port Charlotte. General Admission tickets are $15. In addition to all the old familiar Doo-wop favorites, they will also be singing your favorite Motown hits. Last year sold out early, so get your tickets now at 800-838-3006, or online at: BrownPaperTickets.com

News briefs from Around the Diocese September 2019

Mooney Golfer No. 1 in Florida, ranked nationally

Noah Kumar is captain of the Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Golf Team in Sarasota and has now cracked the top 100 nationally and is ranked 90th with Junior Golf Scoreboard. The Florida High School Athletic Association ranks Kumar the No. 1 high school golfer in the State of Florida. During his senior season with Cardinal Mooney, Kumar has an 18-hole tournament stroke average of 67.33, with six straight low round first place medal wins in a row. His nine-hole stroke average is 35.5 with a career low of 31. Kumar has been playing tournament golf since he was 10-years-old. He qualified to play in the U.S. Junior Amateur this past July and came in 12th in stroke play. Keep up the good work Noah!

Bishop celebrates Mass for Ave Maria University

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated a Mass for the faculty and student of Ave Maria University in Ave Maria on Sept. 23, delayed from Sept. 2 when the Mass was cancelled because of Hurricane Dorian. During the mass the Bishop encouraged the students to grow in their faith and to carry the message of the Lord into the world. At the conclusion of the Mass, the Bishop presided over a commissioning ceremony for nine new theology professors, during which each took an oath and vowed to remain faithful to the teachings of the Church.

Scout 10 Commandment Hike held Sept. 21

Scouts from across the Diocese of Venice gathered Sept. 21 for a 10 Commandments Hike at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice. The more than 100 Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and American Heritage Girls learned about the 10 Commandments at different stations located along the internal road of the property. The Scouts were presented with an achievement badge for participation at the end of the day.

CCW Eastern Deanery holds retreat

The Council of Catholic Women of the Eastern Deanery took part in a bi-lingual retreat Sept. 21 at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Avon Park. More than 70 women from parishes Hardee, Highlands, Hardee, Glades and Hendry counties took part. The retreat included presentations by a number of priests as well as group prayers with the praying of the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

Bishop celebrates Mass for NET retreat in Bradenton

A National Evangelization Team (NET) Ministries group held a one-day retreat for middle school students on Sept. 29 at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton. The retreat included several talks by youth ministers who travel across the nation trying to inspire young people to open themselves up to the Lord. Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the Mass for the retreatants and offered words of encouragement to the middle-schoolers for participating in the day and to the NET team for coming to the Diocese.

Laps for Life held Sept. 28

The Our Lady of Victory Knights of Columbus Council 3358 welcomed more than 200 to the 2nd Annual Sarasota Laps for Life at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota. The event was opened by a blessing for Deacon William Ladroga and the runners and walkers followed a path for three laps to complete the 5K event. The top finishes finished in 17:35 minutes. The event helped to raise money to purchase for a new ultrasound for My Choice Pregnancy Center in Sarasota.

Bishop celebrates Red Mass

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the annual Red Mass on Oct. 2 at St. Martha Parish in Sarasota. The Mass is held in honor of all members of the legal profession and has a history which dates back centuries. The most famous such Mass is held for the U.S. Supreme Court on the first Sunday in October. The Florida Bishops also celebrate a Red Mass for lawmakers in Tallahassee during the annual legislative session.

Pets blessed on Feast of St. Francis

A variety of pets wait to be blesses on Oct. 4, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, at Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota.

Pets great and small were blessed Oct. 4 on the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi at Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota. Administrator Father Eric Scanlan blessed everything from hermit crabs, ferrets, fish, birds, snakes, lizards, dogs and cats brought in by the students and parishioners.

Celebrate Respect Life Sunday & Month!

Jeanne Berdeaux, Diocese Respect Life Director

Venice – “Christ Our Hope in Every Season of Life” is the theme of the new Respect Life annual program from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities. Each year American Catholics recognize the first Sunday in October as Respect Life Sunday and the entire month of October as Respect Life Month. A theme is chosen for reflection throughout the year until the next Respect Life Month. As the Respect Life Reflection for the year states, “While every season of life brings its own challenges and trials, each season also gives us new opportunities to grow in our relationship with God.”

This year the Diocese of Venice has its own special poster, beautifully depicting the “seasons” of life, from beginning to end. Go to https://dioceseofvenice.org/diocese-of-venice-respect-life-image-gallery/ to download a copy to post on your refrigerator or other convenient place to remind yourself to pray for a greater respect for all human life, from conception to natural death, regardless of age or condition.

Take some time to explore the resources which are available at www.respectlife.org. There you will find 10 articles on various topics and 5 Action Guides with activities that can be done in the parish, classroom or home, centered on dates with special significance throughout the year. For example, do you have an ultrasound of your child, grandchild or great-grandchild? Has that child ever seen it? Show your loved one that “It’s me” in the womb just as much as it’s “Still me!” after birth. Do you have a collection of prayer cards from funerals of family members or friends?  Why not put them together in a tribute to your loved ones?

Remember that our Diocese has a special collection on Respect Life Sunday to supplement the work that the Respect Life Office does and assist other pro-life organizations. These funds help to bring the respect life message to young people and adults through various learning opportunities such as Catholic Days at the Capitol, the annual statewide Respect Life Conference and chastity presentations in our Catholic schools. Please share your financial blessings to keep this message in front of our youth.

The international 40 Days for Life fall campaign runs throughout October (Sept. 25-Nov. 3). Join others from your church or bring a friend to pray and witness to life in front of Planned Parenthood in Sarasota, Fort Myers or Naples this fall. For details, go to www.40daysforlife.com and look for the location nearest you.

There are pregnancy help centers, maternity homes and after-birth homes throughout the Diocese offering hope and help to women and children in need. Go to www.dioceseofvenice.org/respectlife and click on the “Pregnancy Resources” box for an agency near you that could use a few hours of your time or whatever help you can provide.

On the same website, under the “Project Rachel” tab, you can learn more about how anyone touched by abortion in any way can seek help and healing, or call Sylvia at 941-412-5860 for confidential help, whether it is a retreat or just someone to listen to your story.

As the USCCB reflection for the year says, “May we hold fast to Christ our hope, from the beginning of life to its very end.”

If you have questions, comments or ideas, contact Jeanne Berdeaux at the Diocesan Respect Life Office, Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-441-1101.

Upcoming “UNPLANNED” Movie Showings

Thanks to the support of the Diocese Respect Life Office, many local parishes will be hosting screenings of the blockbuster movie “UNPLANNED” about an abortion industry worker who stepped away when she saw a live abortion. The film will be shown at the following parishes:

7 p.m., Oct. 8, St. Raphael Parish, 2514 Lee Blvd., Lehigh Acres, 239-369-1831;

9:30 a.m., Oct. 9, or 6:30 p.m., Oct. 16, St. William Parish, 750 Seagate Drive, Naples, 239-261-5831;

7 p.m., Oct. 9, St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, 239-592-1949;

6 p.m., Oct. 9, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Parish, 12175 Stringfellow Road, Bokeelia, 239-898-0687;

7 p.m., Oct. 11, St. Jude Parish, 3930 17th St., Sarasota, 941-955-3934;

6:30 p.m., Oct. 10 and 12:30 p.m., Oct. 13, Resurrection Parish, 8121 Cypress Lake Dr., Fort Myers, 239-481-7171;

10:00 a.m. Oct. 10  and 7 p.m., Oct. 29, Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Dr., Fort Myers, 239-267-7088;

7 p.m., Oct. 11, and Oct. 18, St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, 1441 Spear St., Port Charlotte, 941-284-2388;

3 p.m., Oct. 17, St. Therese Parish, 20115 N. Tamiami Trial, North Fort Myers, 239-567-2315;

6 p.m., Oct. 18, St. Charles Borromeo Parish, 21505 Augusta Ave., Port Charlotte, 941-585-0668;

1:30 p.m., Oct. 20, Ave Maria Parish, 5068 Annunciation Circle, Ave Maria, 918-355-2319;

6:30 p.m., Oct. 25, Epiphany Cathedral, 310 Sarasota St., Venice, 941-485-2325;

6 p.m., Oct. 3, San Marco Parish, 851 San Marco Road, Marco Island, 239-259-0936;

3 p.m., Nov. 3, St. Joseph Parish, 3100 26th St. W., Bradenton, 941-345-6833;

6 p.m., Nov. 5, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 1301 Center Road, Venice,  941-408-6072;

7 p.m., Nov. 8, St. Isabel Parish, 3559 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel, 239-395-2975.

 

Execution prayer vigils Aug. 22

On Aug. 22, at 6 p.m., Gary Ray Bowles is scheduled to be executed by the State of Florida.

The Diocese of Venice Respect Life Office is asking everyone to please join a prayer vigil (choose from list below) or pray at home for Mr. Bowles, his family, the victims and their families, and those who must carry out the execution.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2267 states: “The Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that ‘The death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,’ and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops document, A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death, states: “When the state, in our names and with our taxes, ends a human life despite having non-lethal alternatives, it suggests that society can overcome violence with violence.  The use of the death penalty ought to be abandoned not only for what it does to those who are executed, but for what it does to all of society.”

Execution Prayer Vigil times and locations:

5 p.m., St. Catherine Parish, 820 Hickory St., Sebring;

5:30 p.m., St. John XXIII Parish, 13060 Palomino Lane, Fort Myers; St. Raphael Parish (chapel), 2514 Lee Blvd., Lehigh Acres; Sacred Heart Parish, 211 West Charlotte Avenue, Punta Gorda (outdoor Last Supper Table);

5:45 p.m., St. Thomas More Parish, 2506 Gulf Gate Drive, Sarasota; San Pedro Parish (chapel), 14380 Tamimi Trail, North Port; San Marco Parish, 851 San Marco Drive, Marco Island;

6 p.m., St. Joseph Parish, 3100 26th St. W., Bradenton; St. Katharine Drexel Parish (chapel), 1922 SW 20th Ave., Cape Coral.

To learn more about the death penalty, watch the video at https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/offices-departments/respect-life/death-penalty/.  For additional information, contact the Diocesan Respect Life Office at Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-441-1101.

God and Pro-Life Prayer Warriors Help Convert Cape Coral Woman’s Heart

Susan Laielli – Special to the Florida Catholic

If you have ever prayed in front of an abortion clinic during 40 Days for Life – or on any day – and wondered if it has an impact, one need not look further than the transformation of a former Maryland Planned Parenthood employee who walked away from the industry, thanks to those prayers.

The story begins when Myra Neyer, 43, of Cape Coral, found herself looking for a job in Baltimore, Md. to support her seven children, after her husband was killed in a car accident. Following the death of her husband, a subsequent relationship ended at the hands of abuse, making the job search even more desperate to feed and clothe her children.

As her college graduation neared, the school sent Neyer’s resume to various organizations which were looking to fill positions. The work she found was at two northeast locations of Planned Parenthood, in Annapolis and Baltimore.

Over the next year Neyer would watch half-hearted counseling sessions of young pregnant women who were trying to decide how to handle their pregnancy. From day one she would observe actual abortions. Worst of all, as part of the job requirement, Neyer would be forced to piece babies back together following their killing, to be sure all of the aborted baby had been retrieved from its mother.

“I knew early on this was not the place for me but I had seven children to care for, so I kept going to work,” Neyer said, as she sat in a Cape Coral coffee shop recalling that long year of working for Planned Parenthood.

One day as she was walking back to work from lunch Neyer passed by two sets of protesters: the quiet Catholic prayer warriors who were joining together in praying the rosary; and the loud angry people who yelled awful things to the Planned Parenthood employees. Privately, Neyer says hearts are being affected.

“I started to think, what if God does hate what I am doing, and what am I doing to my soul?” Neyer recalls. It was then she remembers feelings of guilt started penetrating her mind. “The torment became so severe I would dream of being the one who was having the abortion – without anesthesia.”

Neyer recalled each time she looked at her youngest child, who was three at the time, she saw the skin of the aborted babies and soon became tormented for hours each day.

“One day I went outside to the 40 Days for Life prayer warriors, although I didn’t know any of them at the time, and I asked for a pair of the rosaries from one lady who was praying,” Neyer said, smiling. “She asked me if she could pray for me, and if I knew how to pray the rosary, to which I responded, yes. I also told her I grew up Catholic, and this is not how I ever saw my life going, but I have children to raise by myself.”

The woman continued to quietly pray over Neyer before she walked back into the Planned Parenthood clinic, knowing her co-workers were going to give her grief for talking to the people praying outside.

It wasn’t long before Neyer found herself searching for the woman who offered to pray for her, if only to share a smile, or a kind word. In some strange way, she says a sense of well-being was gained from those exchanges.

“This is when I remember starting to feel different. There was something about the prayer woman that provided comfort, and I felt drawn to her,” Neyer said, wiping away a tear. “I learned these ladies were with 40 Days for Life, which at the time, I knew nothing about.”

Attendees of 40 Days for Life commit themselves each Spring and Fall to 40 days of prayer in front of abortion clinics across the United States, including Sarasota, Port Charlotte, Fort Myers and Naples in the Diocese of Venice in Florida.

February 2014 is when Neyer definitively knew it was time to end her year working at Planned Parenthood. She says a young pregnant girl, estimated to be 20-years-old, came into the clinic feeling pressured to get an abortion by her boyfriend, an older man who did not want children.

Neyer says the ultrasound tech told the young mother she was 13-weeks pregnant with identical male quadruplets. The abortion could not be performed at that location because there was not sedation available there, so the procedure needed to be moved to another location in order to abort the four babies.

On the next scheduled visit, the day of the abortion, the young girl was too upset to go through with it. On the third visit her boyfriend came in with her and was visibly angry, claiming he did not want children and he argued with all involved, according to Neyer. The couple was moved to a private room to come to an agreement, but they eventually left without the abortion.

The next day before closing, Neyer said the young mother came back to the clinic in substantial pain, bleeding, with the babies literally falling out of her. The boyfriend had taken the young girl to an unknown location to have an abortion, which was going very wrong.

“The last baby needed to be suctioned out, and (afterwards) all of these little (parts) needed to be pieced back together, as my co-worker and I stood there hugging each other crying,” Neyer painfully recalls. “I knew I could not do this anymore.”

In hindsight, Neyer is now convinced more than ever that the woman who offered to pray for her was a gift from God and is ultimately what helped change her heart.

But for those who know and love God, there is an understanding that His work is never done. As Neyer quit her job the next day, she asked the woman outside to please continue praying for her because she would need a job and was unsure how to provide care for her children.

The praying woman gave Neyer a pamphlet titled, “And Then there Were None” (ATTWN), a non-profit organization founded by Abby Johnson, that exists to help abortion clinic workers leave the industry.

Johnson herself left the industry in 2009 after watching a 13-week old baby struggle in the womb during an ultrasound-guided abortion, and is the subject of the 2019 movie, “UNPLANNED.” That was the first time Abby saw an abortion done with an ultrasound, so it was also the first time she actually saw what was happening inside the womb.

Following Neyer’s conversion, ATTWN provided her with assistance, strength and counsel which led to a trip to Washington, D.C., for the pro-life March for Life. On the plane, Neyer found herself seated next to Renate Ferrante, Executive Director of Collier Community Abstinence Program, who knows Abby Johnson, and a meeting was set up.

Today, Neyer calls Johnson a sister and occasional mother figure, who has given her the strength to speak in public.  She will express to all who will listen that there is a better way for you – and our babies.

Jeanne Berdeaux, Diocese of Venice in Florida Respect Life Director is thrilled Neyer is now local.

“We are blessed that Myra Neyer chose to move to our Diocese after quitting Planned Parenthood in Baltimore.  She gives a powerful testimony to the truth of what happens inside an abortion facility,” Berdeaux said.

Neyer has spoken at several Luncheons 4 Life gatherings. This grassroots effort was started locally to bring like-minded and life-affirming people together and now takes place monthly in eight locations including Venice, Fort Myers and Naples and beyond.

Post-Abortion Help/Project Rachel

Are you suffering after abortion? There is hope and healing waiting for you. Many women and men experience deep pain and grief after an abortion and don’t know where to turn. They don’t know there is help available for them.  Project Rachel is the outreach of the Catholic Church to those who are suffering this loss. We offer help through the sacraments, retreats, and referrals for professional counseling. For confidential information, contact Sylvia Jimenez, Project Rachel Coordinator, at 941-412-5860 (English and en español), project.rachel@dioceseofvenice.org, or www.hopeafterabortion.com.

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