By Annmarie Kowalczak
Editor’s note. This appeared in LIFESPAN NEWS and is reposted with permission.
A common question in the Deaf community is, “Why did you learn American Sign Language?” or “What got you interested in working with the Deaf Community?” Everyone has a unique story!
The same can be said for how people got involving the Pro-Life Movement.
*I was unmarried and pregnant. People pressured me to abort my baby. I chose to keep her. I gave her life and can’t imagine not having her with me now.
*My wife and I agreed to abort our child, and I have lived in sorrow and guilt ever since.
*My parents stood-up for life. …I know this is the basic right of all humans. If I’m too passive or afraid to stand-up for life, then I’m too afraid. I need to do something.”
The last example is my own journey. My position as the Pastoral Minister with the Deaf Community in the Archdiocese of Detroit prompted my involvement locally. (I can’t ride in my ancestor’s shirt-tails forever.) I work at Saint John’s Deaf Center which has two locations where Catholic Deaf congregate: Eastpointe and Redford.
Over the past two years, I have encouraged them to participate in 40 Days for Life campaigns on Eight Mile in Detroit, LIFE CHAIN, Spiritual Adoption, and provided complementary activities and education. It is motivating to instruct myself and my community about life issues and then…watch out!
From October 2018 to June 2019, we supported a Spiritual Adoption campaign. We prayed for babies in danger of abortion, and each month we learned how the babies were developing in utero. We didn’t know the babies for whom we prayed, but we hope they were spared from abortion and will have a life of love.
At the end of our “9-month pregnancy of prayer,” we hosted a Baby Shower with a white cake for our “spiritual babies” inscribed: Welcome, babies! We love you! I was deeply moved. This is the second time we have contributed to LIFESPAN’s Wee Care. The St. John’s Deaf Center does care!
Deaf children are at a higher risk for sexual assault than their hearing peers. Language deficiency is common, therefore when a trauma occurs, the words are hard to find to tell someone. The ordeal is suffered alone and in silence for many years. I am blessed that people in my community have told me their stories of unexpected pregnancies, difficult situations, abuse, and abortion. I gave been able to pray for them, encourage them, and see them stand-up and support life.
The coordinator of the 40 Days for Life campaign on Eight Mile in Detroit, Ed Hull, and I talk periodically about plans and collaboration. He has spoken to our men’s breakfast club about pro-life topics; that was another moment of grace. When Ed and I feel like there is so much to be done, we come back to the truth: We can’t do everything. We need to do something. Let us do our small part and trust that it has an impact.
Thank you to the faithful people who have gone on before us fighting for life. The Catholic Deaf community of Detroit is becoming generous with their time and treasure to support life, too. Thank you LIFESPAN and Wee Care!
Every child has a right to life!