February 24, 2012

Gabriel Project ‘angels’ lauded for their commitment to life

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels talks with parents and students at the “Ed Reform Rocks Rally” at the State Capitol in Indianapolis on Feb. 15. More than 2,000 parents and students attended the rally to support school choice and quality schools. (Photo by Charles J. Schisla)

Father James Farrell, left, and Kate Fuhrman of Indianapolis, right, join other Great Lakes Gabriel Project supporters in a standing ovation for St. Bartholomew parishioner Eileen Hartman of Columbus, center, who founded the parish-based pro-life ministry 12 years ago, during a fundraising dinner on Feb. 14 at the Northside Knights of Columbus Hall in Indianapolis. (Photo by Mary Ann Garber)

By Mary Ann Garber

It is the holy work of God.

Gabriel Project volunteers are doing God’s loving, merciful work each day with their “boots on the ground,” Father James Farrell explained, as a first line of defense in the critical pro-life battle to save the lives of the least among us—defenseless unborn babies whose mothers are experiencing crisis pregnancies and need help to choose life for them.

During his keynote speeches for two Great Lakes Gabriel Project fundraising dinners on Feb. 9 and Feb. 14 in Indianapolis, Father Farrell discussed how Mary lovingly, faithfully and courageously said “yes” when the Archangel Gabriel delivered God’s message that she had been chosen to become the mother of his Son.

Gabriel Project volunteers, known as “angels,” also respond with love, faith and courage when they help women considering abortion to choose life for their infants, Father Farrell said in his inspirational talks.

The pastor of St. Pius X Parish and director of Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House, both in Indianapolis, painted emotional pictures with his poignant words of souls saved, babies born and women healed during two presentations to help raise funds for the pro-life ministry founded on May 1, 1999, by St. Bartholomew parishioner Eileen Hartman of Columbus, who volunteers as executive director.

“We are often, I hope, in the same boat [as Mary was] that even though we don’t always understand everything God is asking of us, we still give a ‘yes’ because we trust God,” he said, “and we’re confident that God will never lead us down a path that he will not also provide for us the grace, support and strength we need to accomplish the work that he has entrusted to us.”

As “partners for life,” Father Farrell said, Gabriel Project supporters and volunteers enable expectant mothers in need to receive financial and material help with housing and utilities expenses, layette supplies and employment as well as emotional support for their daily life as struggling parents.

Offering his heartfelt thanks to the Gabriel angels, Father Farrell said, “you who are actively involved in this work are changing the direction of people’s lives because you’re stepping in and stepping up to announce Good News to them, to remind them that the children they carry within their wombs are blessings and gifts, not burdens.”

As a priest, he said, “I am often taken aback by what I see in the Gabriel Project—taken aback in the sense of … the wonderful ways in which people have come together to provide for women a safety net, a source of strength and encouragement, at the very time that they need to hear good news.

“They want someone to remind them of a message that they have lost,” Father Farrell explained. “The message is, ‘This child within you is life, is made in the image and likeness of God, is your flesh and blood, is already alive, [and] his or her heart is already beating.’ They just need a Gabriel to remind them of the truth that is unfolding within them.”

Gabriel angels “come forward and do some listening, address some concerns, gently remind them of the truth, and awaken them to the deepest desire in their life and their heart to do what is right,” he said, “… and to help them avoid an action [choosing abortion] that will leave them with regrets for the rest of their lives.”

The Gabriel Project focuses on constructive action, Father Farrell said, to transform crisis pregnancies from burdens to blessings.

There are many good ways to “communicate to the world that this is real human life, these children within the womb,” he said, and the Gabriel Project is among the best of these pro-life efforts.

“We can’t wait any longer,” Father Farrell emphasized. “We still must work on legislative matters, absolutely. But we can’t wait for that.”

Christians have to put their “boots on the ground,” he said, quoting a favorite phrase of Father Peter Marshall, associate pastor of St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis.

“We have to be doing constructive, practical, deliberate, intentional things right now to help women who need help right now,” Father Farrell said. “They can’t wait for some law to change the availability of abortion. They need us to remind them of the Good News, and we can and we are. And you are a part of that, and if you’re not, we want you to become part of it.”

Volunteers are needed to pray for life at home or outside abortion facilities, he said, support the Gabriel Project’s First Choice for Women pregnancy resource center, put the ministry’s help line bumper stickers on their cars, and donate layettes, cribs, playpens and new or gently used clothing for babies and children.

“These ways to help won’t take much, but they will mean much,” Father Farrell said. “There are lots of ways to be an angel, an angel of mercy. His name is Gabriel.”

Following his keynote address, Father Farrell introduced an equally emotional video testimonial by Marlena Stowers of Indianapolis, who received much needed help from the Gabriel Project after she accidentally, or providentially, called their help line while trying to contact an abortion clinic.

After two years of extreme struggles, including two evictions and having to move herself and her five children in with her mother in a one-bedroom apartment for two months, she maintained a positive attitude with help from the Gabriel Project and is now living in subsidized government housing, working at The Children’s Museum, and her three girls in primary grades are all on the honor roll.

Recently, the single mother and her five children were baptized.

“I didn’t want to do it,” she explained in the video, “but I felt like [abortion] was the only option. … I already had four children and had just lost my job. … I dialed a number and it wasn’t Planned Parenthood. It was the Gabriel Project.”

Help line volunteer Elizabeth Kane, a member of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Carmel, Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese, who regrets choosing abortion years ago, told her that, “You need to know that God has his hand on your life right at this moment.”

Project Gabriel volunteers sprang into action to help her choose life for her unborn daughter.

“I was struggling and I needed some help,” she explained in the video. “I’m so thankful for all of my children and I’m so thankful for the Gabriel Project. I just want to succeed. … I have to make it. I have to do right because of my children.”

(For information on how to help the Gabriel Project, log on to www.glgabrielproject.org or www.goangels.org.)

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