Photo courtesy of CatholicPhilly.com Taken on January 2014. I am the one kneeling.
by Mickey Kelly
This month marks eight years since I attended the March for Life (Though I missed two because of bad weather). January also marked six years since I prayed in front of the largest non Planned Parenthood affiliate abortion facility in Philadelphia. I can remember the day quite well. It was a bitter cold morning.
Before that I attended some vigils at the Planned Parenthood at 12th and Locust Streets in downtown Philadelphia and one vigil at the Planned Parenthood on Comly Rd, which helped prompt me that I "needed to do more in the pro life movement." Slowly the seeds that were planted began to grow. It wasn't until I attended the Stand Up for Life Dinner in 2010 when one of the award recipients was Guy Vacca, my neighbor and fellow member of my Knights of Columbus council. Because of his 20 years of service which also involved with monthly vigil at Gosnell's "House of Horrors", it was the spark I needed to get out of my comfort zone and be a warrior for life.
What I noticed when I first got my feet wet were not many of my peers were willing to get out of bed before dawn, no breakfast in your system, sometimes with little to no sleep and pray for the unborn. I was surrounded by many seasoned pro lifers with one including my neighbors Guy and Ron. It was intimidating at first, but I rolled with it. As I walked away from the experience, something told me to go back.
One person that stood out to me was the late John Patrick Stanton. I remember seeing him going twenty yards on a small street, pleading for the life of the unborn children, taking mockery from escorts or even the patients, and shouting from the top of his lungs while holding a model 10 week fetus as the client walks into the doors, "Mercy". Mr. Stanton would play a huge role on me in the three years I have spent with him through rallies, weekly vigils, and the annual dinners.
Photo taken by Catholic Standard and Time January 2011
I also met a woman who changed her mind about abortion and described abortion facilities as "chop shops" during a #ProtestPP rally in 2015.
Me with Jewels Green. Summer 2015
As the years went on, I became a regular presence. Some of the seasoned pro-lifers made a remark that they wish "more young men and women like me were out here praying". That comment floored me. Recently I told seminarians I passed during the recent march for life that they were the future and one replied, "You are the future." Millennials need to unplug from their gadgets, fast from their morning coffee, and be boots on the ground for our generation.
The best way for young people to get involved is to break out of their comfort zone. One is to organize a group, big or small, and go pray at the vigil near them for one hour if not more, learn the proper words when sidewalk counseling with love and mercy, and be a peaceful presence. I encourage seasoned pro-lifers to take young pro-lifers under their wings, train them, and show them by your example how they are the future and are needed to save the lives of others.