Aug 31, 2017 / 15:31 pm
Prayer. Sacrifice. Friendship. Charity. Could one Virginia community’s work to put basic Gospel tenets into action be a model for the future of the pro-life movement?
“I think it is a turn from desperation to great hope and transformative hope going forward,” Art Bennett, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington, told CNA of a new free medical clinic set to open in November, replacing a long-standing abortion clinic.
The story began with friendship. The Amethyst Women’s Health Center was a decades-old abortion clinic in Manassas, Va., a western suburb of Washington, D.C., founded by a husband and wife and operating since 1988. The clinic averaged 1,300 abortions per year.
As the clinic opened its doors day after day for years, local Catholics began to regularly pray outside the building all year round for the victims of the abortions, for the clinic workers and owners, and for an end to the abortions there.
In 2013, two members of the pro-life community visited the clinic and struck up a friendship with the owner, her son, and one of the contracted abortionists. In their regular clinic visits, they learned that the owner, now a widow, was not opposed to leaving the practice but felt trapped since operating the clinic had been her livelihood for years. If she left the clinic, her son would need support as well.
They tried to find a job for her son, while realizing that they would need to raise a significant amount of money within three months to purchase the clinic and buy her out so she could retire. For such an urgent task, one of the men received a key piece of advice – pray to the Blessed Mother. He began to pray a 14-day rosary novena.
Members of local parishes began discreetly spreading the word among their church communities. A coalition of local entrepreneurs also banded together and began raising money.
Donations poured in, and in less than three months, the community raised all the money required to buy out the clinic, which closed at the end of September 2015. The owner, who had been a baptized Catholic, eventually repented and came back to the faith.