Author tells of post abortion regrets at St. Gianna Molla benefit banquet
The St. Gianna Molla Pregnancy Outreach Center, now with six locations, has grown significantly since its founding. In 2009, the center provided material, emotional and spiritual support to 275 people. It is now set to help 2,000 families this year.
During the 12th annual benefit banquet, held April 27 at Classics V in Amherst, an estimated 350 guests heard positive reports from those who have been helped and continue to help mothers, children and the pro-life cause.
Cheryl Calire, director of Pastoral Ministries for the diocese, opened the event by reading a letter from Gianna Emanuela Molla, the daughter of St. Gianna Molla, offering encouragement to those gathered.
Keynote speaker Toni McFadden, author of “Redeemed: My Journey after Abortion,” gave a rich and emotional presentation as she shared the story of her abortion which involved regret, recovery and redemption.
“I’m hoping tonight that my story will give you the encouragement to keep doing what you’re doing, because what you’re doing is what I needed at the time when I was in my pregnancy,” McFadden told her audience of pro-life advocates. “My heart is now shaped very much like yours. I value life, and there was a time when I didn’t. Now, I value life not only outside of the womb, but I value life from womb to tomb.”
Her story is not uncommon. As a senior in high school, she became pregnant and was unsure where to turn. Her boyfriend said, “You don’t want to keep it, do you?” Her best friend told her, “You cannot keep this baby.”
“Those were the only two voices that I heard,” McFadden said. “This is why what you do matters. This is why when Cheryl picks up the phone or when you pick up the phone and you intervene and you speak of life to a young girl who is in crisis when no one else around is speaking that to her, it matters.”
McFadden recalled being at the abortion clinic. Her boyfriend would not sit next to her. She was given an ultrasound with the screen turned away, so she could not see the development of her baby. She was then given a chemical abortion pill that had not been approved by the FDA at the time. A second set of pills did not work. The abortion clinic would not help beyond telling her to take more pills. A month and a half later she began severely hemorrhaging.
“I want to tell you that abortion is not normal. I don’t care how they package it. Abortion changes a woman. It changes you. Why? Because God did not give women wombs to destroy life. He gave us wombs to give life,” she said.
Three years later, God touched her heart. “And when God grabs a hold of your heart, you know what happens? He changes your whole worldview. He begins to show you your value. When my value changes because I view myself the way He views me, I begin to see not only am I valuable, people are valuable, relationships are valuable. My standards in relationships changed,” she said.
Ten years later her boyfriend, who broke up with her the day after the abortion, came back to apologize, admitting the reason he left was because he didn’t want to face the fact that he ended the life of their child.
“Men in this room, you are called to protect, and he realized in that moment he did not protect me and did not protect that child. It was the first time I saw him be a real man,” McFadden said.
The two have been married nearly 14 years and are raising four children.
McFadden commended those who work and volunteer at the St. Gianna Centers.
“Life is not worth it when we are just giving in for ourselves,” she said.
Other guests included Shannon Filbert, who made a name for herself as the first woman justice in West Seneca. A quadriplegic after a car crash in her teens, Filbert pursued a law degree from the University at Buffalo. Calire has worked with her in Family Court.
“She always represented the most vulnerable of our population – children who have been neglected or abused,” said Calire.
Women helped through Mother Teresa Home gave testimonies to the benefits of the supportive residence.
Calire also presented a $200 gas card to Pastor James E. Giles of Back to Basics Ministries and Buffalo Peacemakers for the Buffalo Peacemakers and Buffalo Fathers.
Pietro Molla Outreach, a center that will provide household materials and services to fathers and their children. It is expected to open in June at an as yet undetermined location.
St. Martin de Porres Choir performed for those gathered.
Brother Peter Killeen, a teacher at St. Joseph Collegiate Institute in Kenmore and a guest at the banquet, has served in Washington, D.C., New York City, Minnesota, and Mexico City. He has seen other pro-life operations in other dioceses, but nothing like the St. Gianna Center.
“I was pleasantly surprised by the number of facilities helping women in crisis pregnancies. This is truly edifying. It’s really good. Cheryl threw out a number, I think 2,000 women or 2,000 families this year. Who else is helping 2,000 women in crisis pregnancies? Nobody.”
Lauren Migliore, from St. Gregory the Great Parish in Williamsville, has been attending the banquets since they began.
“I’m always inspired to hear the speakers,” she said. “Toni McFadden, I thought her talk was wonderful. It’s so rare that when someone has an abortion and the people end up getting married. That was totally an act of God. I find it spiritually uplifting.”