The biggest night for 1,200 pro-lifers across the Greater Philadelphia area occurred on November 20th. Those gathered celebrated the past year’s accomplishments on the state and national level while looking to the future.
Ashley Garecht, a board member of the Pro-Life Union of Greater Philadelphia, took time to address the crowd and plea to those gathered to double their efforts in the now Post-Roe society. Though the Supreme Court made a half-century error right, it didn’t “the end to abortion”. Instead, the issue was sent back to the states.
The event was broken into two parts. The first was hearing from a keynote speaker. Given the 40th anniversary of the dinner, it was a no-brainer that the keynote speaker this year was David Bereit, former director of 40 Days for Life.
Bereit helped lead the first 40 Days campaign at a Planned Parenthood in Bryan, TX which is now the national headquarters for this life-saving ministry since 2013. 40 Days is now in 700 cities throughout the United States and the world.
Bereit, a native of western Pennsylvania, felt great to be back in his home state, but he knows more happens in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
He opens his remarks with where he was with the Dobbs decision and acknowledged the fact that more work must be done now that the abortion issue will be decided state by state. He and his wife Margaret wept for the decision and those that continue to be lost.
“The most important work is ahead of us.” David said as he alluded to the 32,123 abortions in Pennsylvania in 2021 with half in the Greater Philadelphia area and drawing attention to the results of the recent state elections.
Bereit offered three things all pro-lifers can do.
The first is to understand the nature of the struggle. Bereit shared his visit to Grand Rapids on visiting a place that changed his life on 72 Ransom Ave. He met the owners of a pregnancy resource center in a once-abortion facility after being a church for a hundred years. The people of faith came together and prayed for the abortion facility to close and it did in 1999. As he was touring the facility, he heard harrowing stories of the once-abortion facility as went room from room. Pro-lifers have to understand the “spiritual struggle on the issue of abortion and engage it with prayer and fasting.”
“With God, all things are possible,” Bereit exclaimed.
The second is to hear the call from God to get involved. Bereit challenged those gathered to ask God how can they answer the call to be part of the pro-life movement.
“It is a question worth asking. Then we must listen to God’s answer.” Bereit suggested.
Drawing from his friend David’s idea to be present for 40 days and 40 nights outside of a Planned Parenthood in their community, they answered the call to stop abortions from happening in their community. It paid off as abortions dropped by 28% in its first campaign.
The third piece of advice he offers is to work together. He wants all pro-lifers to come together to pray, fast, and give alms for the cause of life.
The next part of the evening served as the second biggest hallmark of the annual gathering. The Pro-Life Union of the Greater Philadelphia area awarded pro-lifers past and present for their ground-breaking achievements. The evening saw the debut of two new award categories, the St. John Neumann Award and Warrior of the Decade hence the 40th anniversary of the dinner. The other awards given that evening are the St. John Paul the Great Be Not Afraid and Defender of Life.
Fr. Chris Walsh was the first recipient of the St. John Neumann Award. Fr. Walsh was an active member of the Pro-Life Union for the last 15 years. He put much effort into improving the spiritual aspect of the coalition. He was chosen for the award as he continues to strive to serve God and his people, no matter the challenges that lie ahead of him.
The organization gave its inaugural Warrior of the Decade to four worthy recipients, Mary Daly, Molly Kelly, Father John McFadden, and Kim Savage.
Since 1969, Mary Daly has been at the forefront of the pro-life movement. Her accomplishments are many, but it is something to be emulated among every pro-lifer.
Molly Kelly is considered the “Golden Girl” of the pro-life movement. She was instrumental in bringing the chastity message to thousands of students. She has emceed the annual dinner for many years and is known for her great enthusiasm and her Irish humor.
Another priest from Philadelphia has made the list of award recipients this year. Fr. John McFadden was the pivotal mover and shaker of the establishment of Mothers Home in Darby, which today serves pregnant homeless moms. He also took part in many of the operation rescues in the early pro-life movement.
The final recipient of the Warrior of the Decade is Kim Savage. Kim was placed for adoption by her birth parents and it has been her guide in her involvement in the pro-life movement as she depends on Jesus. She was the founding director of Generation Life and takes the pro-life and chastity message across the Delaware Valley and beyond.
Ed Blaney is the recipient of the 2022 St. John Paul the Great “Be Not Afraid” award. For 24 years, Blaney has organized Pro-Life Benefit for Guiding Star Ministries. He also spent countless hours in front of the abortion facilities on Comly Road and Center City Philadelphia.
40 years and the dinner continues to go strong. We march on.