by Terry Noble
“I never called them abortion clinics because clinics are to heal people and they were never out to heal people.” Teresa Snyder
Teresa Snyder was born in 1926. She had a hard life growing up. Her brother was 21 years old when he died and her older sister living on her own. Teresa was four years old when her father abandoned her and her 47 year-old mother. They went from place to place, living in relatives’ homes and boarding houses until she became an adult. As a child, Teresa would peer into the windows of homes as she walked by. She saw families gathered together and longed for a home surrounded by a family of her own.
She met her future husband, Frank, at a dance in Philadelphia. After dating for one year, they wed in Philadelphia. Frank had to teach Teresa how to do laundry, clip coupons and how to drive. She became so adept at coupon shopping, the family tagged her as the “coupon queen”.
Within 12½ years, Frank and Teresa were parents to seven girls and three boys, including, two sets of twins and a special needs son. To help make ends meet, she had a daycare in her home. Teresa did all the cooking and laundry, packed 11 lunches every weekday and had dinner on the table every evening.
Frank worked for Texas Oil as a salesman and eventually became plant manager of a refinery in New Jersey. After several moves they settled in Warminster, PA. He retired after 36 years at the age of 57. He was stalwart in his love for his wife and children and stood beside Teresa in all her involvement in pro-life. Her beloved husband passed away after a long illness in 2009.
Teresa Snyder became involved in the pro-life movement in 1970. Her daughter, a freshman in college, told her about a talk at Immaculate Conception Church on the topic of abortion. John Stanton, the father of the pro-life movement in the Philadelphia area, had arranged the presentation. Teresa recounted the first time she was educated about the abortion issue. “A doctor and a lawyer were the speakers. The doctor talked about the bad side effects of abortion, not only for the baby, but for the mother. The lawyer talked about the legal aspects of abortion.”
“We’d pray at the Northeast Women's Center abortion facility in Philadelphia outside their site. We went to many conferences in New Jersey, Philadelphia, Washington, DC and then Roe v. Wade was made legal in 1973," Teresa stated, “we started right then and there fighting harder than ever. I never called them abortion clinics because clinics are to heal people and they were never out to heal people. And abortion is not health care for a woman.”
Teresa talked about a meeting that impressed her. “I met Dr. John Wilke [pro-life doctor] and Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a former abortionist. He was Jewish and became a Catholic. He became very friendly with Cardinal O’Connor and as a result, was deeply involved in the pro-life movement. The more he became involved in pro-life, the more he was convinced what an evil this was.”
“Dr. Nathanson regretted so much at the end of his life. He went on many periods of fasting to make up for what he had done. And this has happened to many other doctors. They realized and they changed when they came into the pro-life movement. You didn’t have to have any religion at all to know the killing an innocent pre-born baby is a human life and that baby feels pain just like your or I would”
Teresa recounted, “In January 1974, a lot of the parishes had buses come and take people down to Washington, DC for the March for Life.” That same year, Teresa attended a March for Life in Philadelphia at Independence Hall. She said, “There was a female [speaker] from New Jersey. You would think after everybody heard her speak nobody would be pro-abortion. We marched from Independence Hall to City Hall to plead with them to make abortion illegal. But very little was reported in the newspapers and on the TV.”
“In January 1975, I started going down to Washington every year until 1985 because my walking was getting impaired. Nellie Grey, founder of the March for Life, was there and she had speakers from the Senate and in the House. But in recent years, when I did go, the high school children were beginning to get involved, that was encouraging. You never saw so many people in all your life, thousands and thousands were there.”
Teresa continued her involvement in her stand for life in many ways. She shared about an incident while praying and participating at a demonstration at the former NE Women’s Center (now a Planned Parenthood facility). She was arrested with a group of other pro-life supporters. Refusing to pay the fine, the group of men and women were sentenced to prison for four days. It was the day after Easter when they were incarcerated. Teresa and seven other women were held in a large room. Some began reading scriptures and singing hymns. All joined in, including the women in prison cells. The prisoners were thankful because they weren’t allowed to have clergy or religious services. Teresa recalled, “They called us the “good ladies”. She became so concerned about the plight of the women that her family thought that “now she might become involved in prison reform.” Teresa reflected the love of Christ toward everyone, even those forgotten by society.
In 2000, Teresa organized a Celebration of the Mass of the Holy Innocence at St. Cyril’s Catholic Church in Jamison. She invited other parishes and their priests to take part in the Mass. Planning the special mass to remember the slaughter of the innocent was close to Teresa’s heart. This continues to this day through the efforts of her daughters, Mary and Jane.
Teresa’s Pro-Life Involvement Included:
- Founded First Pro-Life Parish Group in the Archdiocese
- Sidewalk Counseling and Prayer at Abortion Sites
- Member of the Bucks County Pro-Life Coalition
- Founding Board Member of Guiding Star Ministries
- Crisis Pregnancy Center, Hot Line Counselor
- Voices for the Unborn Radio Program: Frequent Caller
List of Their Children’s Accomplishments:
- 1 Eucharistic Minister and Lecter
- 1 Special Olympics Athlete
- 2 Special Olympic Coaches
- 7 College Graduates
- 3 Masters Degrees
- 1 Nurse Practioner
“All my family were committed and dedicated. All my children are pro-life. But the younger people today are getting more involved, because they realize it’s their generation. They’re the pro-life generation whose children will be killed if they don’t stop abortion. My daughter, Jane, says she’s pro-life because she was born.”Teresa loved and served the Lord in many ways, but her special calling was in standing up for the least of us, the unborn babies. As she joins her husband and others who have gone before her, Jesus has welcomed her with the open arms with words we all long to hear, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”