Priests for Life is happy to announce that Fr. Stephen Imbarrato, a priest of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, has been given permission to work full time with Fr. Frank Pavone and the Priests for Life Pastoral Team starting June 12.
This is a tremendous affirmation of the importance of the work of Priests for Life to the Church, and the priority of the cause of protecting the children in the womb.
Following is an article that our Communications Director has written for this occasion. We welcome you to send Fr. Stephen a message of greeting and encouragement!
Find out more about Fr. Stephen by clicking on his photo on the front page of www.priestsforlife.org. - Fr. Frank Pavone
by Leslie Palma, Communications Director
After working full-time in pro-life, Father Stephen Imbarrato wasn’t sure he really wanted to become a priest when he enrolled in Holy Apostles, a Connecticut seminary designed for men discerning a vocation later in life. But Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, mentored him during a retreat at Franciscan University in Steubenville. Later, at Holy Apostles, he met a priest who was in Connecticut looking for someone to organize pro-life ministry in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.
Father Stephen had his answer.
While he was in seminary, he was head of the Holy Apostles Life League and was director of Seminarian Life Link, an outreach of Priests for Life.
“While I was at Holy Apostles, Fr. Frank called Holy Apostles ‘the most active pro-life seminary in the world.’ We went to the abortion mill weekly to pray, started a public pro-life library, sponsored a weekly holy hour for life, and consecrated Adam’s Tomb for the Unborn, with Father Frank celebrating the Mass and leading the interment,” Father Stephen said “Also, while I was in the seminary, I founded St. Gerard’s Center for Life across the street from an abortion mill in downtown Hartford. It is still operating to this day.”
Father Stephen was ordained in 2005 and headed west to New Mexico.
Now, after 10 years in parish ministry, his bishop has released him to do full-time pro-life work with Priests for Life.
“I hope it came about by the hand of God,” he said. “I feel like this is the right time to take a break from parish work and do full-time pro-life work.”
Father Stephen will continue to live in Albuquerque, the late-term abortion hub where he founded two pro-life organizations, Project Defending Life and Protest ABQ. He has since handed over the reins of those organizations and now, as a full-time member of the Priests for Life Pastoral Team, he will travel and speak at events on behalf of the New York-based ministry, and attend monthly meetings at its Staten Island headquarters.
Father Frank said Father Stephen will be a “powerful addition to an already powerful Priests for Life team,” which includes Fr. Denis Wilde, OSA, Fr. Walter Quinn, OSA, Janet Morana, Dr. Alveda King, Bryan Kemper, Dr. Theresa Burke, Kevin Burke, and Marie Smith.
“ The growth of this diverse team of leaders over the years has been organic,” Father Frank said. “Leaders have come onto the team after years of collaboration with us and the development of a relationship of communication and trust. The case of Father Stephen is no exception. I have known him and worked with him in the pro-life trenches from before he entered the seminary. He thinks clearly about the tragedy of abortion and responds courageously to it.
“I am very grateful to Archbishop Michael Sheehan for permitting Father Stephen to pursue that aspect of his vocation that impels him to devote himself entirely to the protection of our youngest, weakness, and most defenseless brothers and sisters, namely, the children in the womb. This is a calling that many people, both clergy and laity, experience. It is only natural and logical that while living in the midst of a holocaust, a significant number of people would feel impelled to make the ending of that holocaust the top priority of their activities.”
Father Stephen’s new ministry will bring him much closer to his north Jersey roots and his family, which includes a daughter-in-law and four grandchildren. Unlike the vast majority of Catholic priests, Father Stephen is not only an ordained priest; he is also a father, grandfather and a post-abortive dad. When he was in his early 20s, his girlfriend became pregnant and had an abortion.
“I did not force her but I did not stand up and say, ‘have our baby,’” he said. “I looked her up almost 30 years later when I was in the seminary to apologize to her for not being more of a man for her and our baby. It was then that I found out the abortion involved twins, which she never told me. It is my hope that my two babies, Thomas and Mary, are in heaven and I pray every day for the soul of my adoptive son, John.”
Father Stephen was the first post-abortive father to share his testimony as part of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, telling the story of his abortion experience in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building during the 2004 March for Life.
The abortions are not the only loss Fr. Stephen has experienced in his family. His adopted son, John Imbarrato, took his own life in August 2014. The following month his 17-year-old granddaughter was diagnosed with kidney cancer. She has since undergone treatment and the family is awaiting word that the cancer is in remission.
Priests for Life looks forward to sharing with all of you many fruits from Fr. Stephen Imbarrato's work with us in the months and years ahead!