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As custodian of the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa for HLI’s From Ocean to Ocean Campaign in Defense of Life, I get to meet some pretty amazing people. One person who has already made an impact on me, and on this growing campaign is Theresa Bonapartis.

When Theresa became pregnant at 18 years old, she was pressured to have an abortion by her father. She was consumed by depression, despair, thoughts of suicide and a host of personal problems until she slowly started coming back to her Catholic faith. Ultimately, Theresa found a compassionate priest who heard her confession and became her spiritual director.

The words of Christ recorded in Saint Faustina Kowalska's diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul, had a great effect on her: 

1146 [Let] the greatest sinners place their trust in my mercy. They have the right before others to trust in the abyss of My mercy. My daughter, write about My mercy towards tormented souls. Souls that make an appeal to My mercy delight Me. To such souls I grant even more graces than asked. I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to my compassion, but on the contrary, I justify him in my unfathomable and inscrutable mercy.

After Theresa was able to receive the mercy of God and forgive herself and her parents, she began helping others who suffer the after-effects of abortion.  Theresa is now the Director of Lumina, a post-abortion referral network linking people to various post-abortion ministries, counselors and priests, as well as hosting retreats. Founded by Chris Bell of Good Counsel Homes, Lumina serves mostly women, but has programs for men and the siblings of aborted babies as well. Lumina helps men and women to accept the mercy of God and forgive themselves and others who had a role in the abortion decision while at the same time helping them to acknowledge the truth about the evil of abortion.

Fairfax VATheresa is also the co-developer of Entering Canaan post-abortion ministry.  She works closely with the Sisters of Life founded by John Cardinal O’Connor and the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. 

Theresa has long had a devotion to Our Lady.  It seems Our Lady of Czestochowa has adopted her and has become the patroness of the post-abortion healing ministry.  So when Theresa heard about how the pilgrim icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa was coming to America she spread the word to others, especially those who work in post-abortion healing ministries. 

Theresa made a long trip from New York and was one of our guests when the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa was officially welcomed on St. Clement’s Island, Maryland where the first English Catholics came seeking religious freedom in 1634.  Julia Shelava, Director of Project Rachel, of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC and Sarah LaPierre, Project Rachel Director, of the Diocese of Arlington were also our guests that day.   From the beginning the From Ocean to Ocean pilgrimage in Defense of Life has also been a plea for God’s mercy for all who have been effected by the sin of abortion.

One of the people that Theresa told about the From Ocean to Ocean Pilgrimage in Defense of Life was Josephine Balsamo. Josephine is the Program Director of Project Rachel Ministry for the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia.  Josephine leads a Project Rachel prayer group that usually attracts 30 people at Our Lady of Sorrows Historic Church in Fairfax, VA.  Fairfax is part of the Washington, DC metropolitan area. 

Josephine arranged for the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa to visit Fairfax on Tuesday September 10.  She moved the Holy Hour into the newer, larger Church because she expected about 150 people, while the historic church only holds 100.  400 people came out on a Tuesday night for a Holy Hour, to honor Our Lady and pray for the protection of life and Divine Mercy!  Two priests heard confessions for two hours. Josephine is hoping Our Lady will return to Fairfax in November.

In the Hail, Holy Queen we call the Blessed Virgin Mary “Mother of Mercy” and ask her to turn her eyes of mercy to us. Our Lady of Czestochowa points the way and draws us closer to Jesus her Divine Son who is Mercy itself. Please pray for the continued healing of all men and women who have been wounded by abortion, and the success of Lumina, Project Rachel and all post-abortion healing ministries. Please pray that life will be protected and women respected.  Pray that people will come to understand that abortion causes psychological and spiritual harm to women, to me and our whole society.  Pray that our society will respond to Our Lady’s prayers, reject abortion and turn back to God.

Fr. Peter West
Vice President For Missions
Human Life International
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