Regnum Christi

pro-life

Regnum Christi Affirms the Sanctity of Life a Year after Roe v. Wade is Overturned

June 24, 2023 marks the one year anniversary of the Supreme Court of the United States overturning the Roe v. Wade ruling.

 

At the beginning of this year, the Regnum Christi family attended the 50th Annual National March for Life on January 20th in Washington, DC. The theme for this year’s March for Life was “Next Steps: Marching into a Post-Roe America,” and emphasized the need for pro-life advocates to continue to uphold the rights of the unborn since the overturning.

 

Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi, Karla Amezcua, who was serving as the Young Women’s Section Director in Washington, DC, coordinated the Regnum Christi presence at the March for Life for the second year in a row.

 

For Karla, one of the highlights of the event occurred before the march had even begun. Fr. Vito Crincoli, LC, who is the director of ECYD and the Leadership Training Program in Washington, DC, invited each of the Regnum Christi participants to receive a personal blessing with the Blessed Sacrament on the Thursday evening before the march. “All of the participants were so happy and touched by the grace they received during that adoration,” says Karla. “It was a beautiful moment of grace.” That evening, Fr. John Klein, LC, and Sarah Carpenter, two members of RC Music Collective, a musical group made up of Legionary priests, Consecrated Women, and lay members of Regnum Christi, performed a concert for the RC members who had arrived in DC for the March for Life.

 

The next morning, a Mass was held for all Regnum Christi members, with several Legionary priests concelebrating. A girl’s choir from Pinecrest Academy, a Regnum Christi school in Cumming, Georgia, provided music for the Mass, led by Teresa Maziarz, a Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi and the High School Campus Minister for the school.

 

The Regnum Christi presence at the 2023 March for Life incorporated several new events and elements that Karla and her team hope to build upon in the coming years. This year, instead of organizing a mission on the Thursday evening as had been done in the past, they decided to do a mission on Friday during the march itself. Each team of Regnum Christi members carried crosses about two feet tall while they marched, asking other participants if they had any intentions for which they could pray. With each prayer request, the team would tie a ribbon to the cross, so that by the end of the march, the crosses represented the intentions of the thousands of fellow marchers with whom the team had met, interacted with, and prayed for throughout the day.

 

On Friday night, after the march, all Regnum Christi members who attended the march gathered to meet members of the RC spiritual family from other locations and share in the joy of the day. Hosting a post-march gathering for RC members is an annual tradition for the Alecia family, a Regnum Christi family who live in DC.

 

Approximately 250 RC members attended the march from a variety of RC localities, including Michigan, Atlanta, and Philadelphia. Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, and many other apostolic schools and high schools brought groups of students to Washington for the march, including Fr. Patrick O’Loughlin, LC, who serves as High School Chaplain for Pinecrest Academy and travelled with a large number of students. “I love accompanying our Pinecrest Academy students from Georgia to the March for Life! Washington, DC offers such a perfect opportunity to experience the Christian roots of our nation – you read it all over our monuments and memorials! And our love and respect for life, especially for the unborn, moves from our heads to our hearts as we walk with hundreds of thousands of others through the streets of our Capital!”

 

Regnum Christi members and missionaries from all over the United States worked tirelessly behind the scenes to create an unparalleled event. “This year we had an amazing team, and they were a big factor in raising the standard of the event,” says Karla. “They made everything feel more professional, more beautiful, and it was so delightful to work with them and to experience their availability and their joy!”

 

Mary Peach, who works with ECYD on a local, national, and international level, travelled from Cincinnati to attend this year’s march, and helped Karla with some of the organizational tasks of the event. “What I love about coming to the march is the unity of our movement, standing up for something that we all believe in. I love seeing all the priests and consecrated, young adults and high schoolers, everyone there celebrating life, and being able to share in the joy of that that looks like. It was such a gift!”

 

For Karla, the National March for Life also provided a much-needed opportunity for the Regnum Christi members to come together as a family for a single event, and she would love to see the march become an annual gathering space for Regnum Christi members from all over the country. “It was great to be together as a family – the grace of God was there, so present, and we were grace-filled!”

 

Next year’s National March for Life in Washington, DC, will be held on January 19th, 2024. For more information, visit marchforlife.org.

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Wonder of Eve: A Health-Focused Approach to Promoting a Culture of Life

As a registered nurse and Certified FertilityCare Educator, Diane Daly has been working in reproductive and fertility care for years, but she is particularly excited about the new program coming out of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, called Wonder of Eve.

This fresh, engaging, and health-centered digital presentation for young women of high school age, generally sophomore year and older, can be offered in a school or youth group setting. The focus of the program is to help young women understand not only their inherent beauty as women created by God, but also how their bodies work, and how their health and fertility fits into God’s plan for their lives. This includes introducing them to the concept of tracking their cycles throughout the various stages of their lives; the types of reproductive health issues they might encounter; and the treatments, like NaProTechnology, that are available to them. “Artificial hormonal treatment – birth control pills – are often prescribed for everything from menstrual cramps and unusual bleeding to Premenstrual Tension Syndrome, all of which may affect women of every age, and they do not cure the cause of the symptoms,” says Diane. “We want [young women] to know of an alternative for their consideration and discussion with their doctors that focuses on diagnosing the underlying cause of a woman’s condition and treating it, rather than treating only the symptoms.”

But it was actually Diane’s niece who inspired the NFP team in St. Louis to create a health-focused presentation on female reproductive issues:

One morning, my niece and I met for breakfast. I brought up the subject to her, asking for her perspective, as a young millennial familiar with tracking her cycles, on how to be more effective in reaching young women. She suggested we focus on the topic as a part of women’s health in high school, instead of only presenting NFP in religion classes from a theological perspective. She encouraged us to present in a health class or environment with a focus on health, identifying the different stages of a women’s reproductive life and how a woman can actually track these changes and understand them. She felt this different approach might get their attention more completely and be more interesting to them. So we decided to try it.”

This new, health-focused approach worked. After Diane gathered a team together that included a pediatrician, another nurse besides herself, fertility care providers and a marketer to develop the presentation, the Wonder of Eve program was created, and since then, it has been met with an overwhelming positive response. “Faculty, youth groups, and students appreciate the presentation, and the information and knowledge they now possess that they never had before,” says Diane. Requests for the program have increased, and there are plans underway to copyright the program. In the future there are hopes to translate it into a variety of languages to meet the new demand from other countries. While the restrictions in place due to COVID-19 meant that the program had to be presented in an entirely virtual manner, this new challenge has broadened the scope of the program’s reach beyond the local schools and youth groups; the program is now offered on a national and international level and available to any interested community. “It has grown much bigger than we ever expected, and it is heartwarming to see the result of presenting this information with the hope that it will be life-changing for young women as they make decisions about their reproductive health.”

In her work in Natural Family Planning and fertility care, the response to the information presented by Wonder of Eve that Diane hears again and again is this: “Why didn’t I know this before?” Says Diane, “Women often regret poor choices they have made in the past because they did not understand that there were other options.” The goal of Wonder of Eve is to make certain that today’s young women are made aware of the effective reproductive health options that respect their health, their bodies, and their fertility, and recognize them as gifts.

As a Catholic wife and mother of four, Diane had a personal desire to offer an alternative to the present culture’s contraceptive mentality, and to help build a culture of life for her children, which would include a healthy understanding of their bodies, their sexuality, and her and her husband’s pro-life vision. So when, years ago, she was approached by a physician, inviting her to participate as a member of an NFP research team (which later became identified as Creighton Model FertilityCare Services), she jumped at the chance, beginning a lifelong career in NFP and reproductive care. Her work has taken her all over the United States and around the world; for Diane, the need for programs that help young women grow in respect and knowledge of their bodies and their fertility is universal. Currently, she is a faculty member of the St. Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction Education Programs, Manager of the Department of Fertility Care Services at Mercy Hospital St. Louis, and Director of Natural Family Planning for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. These positions, which are continuously informed and inspired by the teachings of St. Paul VI and St. John Paul II, and guided by the Holy Spirit, give Diane the opportunity to reach out to women and couples and to develop new programs to assist with this vision of a culture of life, and to help empower others to do the same.

Diane became a member of Regnum Christi a few years after  her son, Father David Daly, was ordained a Legionary priest in 2001 (Father David is currently serving as Territorial Vicar for the Legionaries of Christ in the North American Territory), and it is her vocation to Regnum Christi and the graces she receives from prayer and team life that helps to sustain her in her professional and apostolic work in NFP and fertility care. “I think the main thing that Regnum Christi has cemented in my mind is the call to bring others to heaven; it is not enough to take care of ourselves and our families, we must reach out to as many as we can influence to become closer to Christ,” says Diane. “And I realize that apostolate without a strong prayer life will be not effective.” And she credits her St. Louis Regnum Christi team for supporting and encouraging her in her work. “I appreciate so much the insights that my team members share during our reflections, and am amazed and humbled at the breadth of service they provide to the Church.” Diane is grateful, too, to the Archdiocese of St. Louis, for its constant support; it was the Annual Catholic Appeal of the diocese that provided the funding that allowed Diane and her team to create Wonder of Eve.

For Diane, the enormous amount of time, patience, and resources that it took to launch the Wonder of Eve program has already paid off, and the fruits only continue to multiply. The archdiocese has already released another program, called Beauty of Eve, which is a companion program to Wonder of Eve directed towards women of college age and beyond, and presents the Church’s teachings on love and life in a direct, informative, and authentic manner. This program, too, has already received positive feedback and borne fruit: “The presentation has resulted in some women wanting to learn more about their cycles and how to live in harmony with their fertility.” In the future, Diane and her team hope to be able to produce a program specifically tailored for young men. “There is a huge need worldwide for programs that help young men and women grow in respect for their bodies and their fertility,” says Diane. “We pray to ask God to work through us.”

For more information about the Wonder of Eve program, check out their trailers here and here, or visit  the Wonder of Eve link on the archdiocese of St. Louis website. For more information, or to inquire about presenting the Wonder of Eve program in your parish or school community, email Diane at [email protected].

 

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Regnum Christi at the National March for Life

This Friday, January 24th marks the annual National March for Life in Washington, D.C. According to www.marchforlife.org, the march began in 1974, one year after the “the Supreme Court of the United States invalidated 50 state laws and made abortion legal – on demand – throughout the United States in the decisions of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, the first March for Life walked on Washington to lobby Congressional leadership to find a legislative solution to the Supreme Court’s decision. Soon after realizing congressional protection of the unborn was not on the horizon, Nellie Gray decided to hold a March for Life every year until Roe v. Wade is overturned.” 

That march, celebrating the sanctity of life and continuing the petition begun by Nellie Grey, now welcomes hundreds of thousands of peaceful marchers from all races and religions.  

The Catholic church, long a cultural front-runner in the defense of the unborn and the sanctity of life at all stages, plays a pivotal part in the march and related events.  The Youth Rally and Mass for Life, held annually on the morning of the March for Life at the Capital One Arena in downtown Washington, D.C., strives to encourage youth participating in the National March for Life in their witness as disciples of Christ and promoters of the Gospel of Life.  

 

At a time in which the Catholic Church seeks more ways to connect with and engage youth, the pro-life cause and the National March for life continue to be filled with young people.  The majority of people participating in the march seem to be teenagers and young adults for whom the right to life is the most fundamental of human rights, and the joy, and enthusiasm they bring with them is cause for hope.

At the Youth Rally, young people from around the country will gather to Hear from key leaders in the pro-life movement, be inspired to be an influence for a culture of life, get tips on advocating for life on social media, learn practical tips for pro-life volunteering, and be encouraged by fellowship with hundreds of pro-life youth.

Regnum Christi joins with the rest of the Church in participating.  Hundreds of lay members of Regnum Christi, Legionaries of Christ, consecrated women and ECYD members, as well as delegations from many Regnum Christi schools across the United States, the Legionaries of Christ Novitiate and College of Humanities, and Divine Mercy University will be there to join their prayers and voices in speaking out for the most vulnerable members of our society.

In addition, Regnum Christi of Washington DC is organizing a Holy Hour & Mission Night the evening before the March for Life with adoration, dinner and street missions. For more information, contact Br. Gregory Metz, LC.

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Regnum Christi at the 2019 March for Life

The 46th annual March for Life was held January 18, 2019.  Regnum Christi was there.  Many members, students from RC Education schools, Consecrated and Legionaries made the trip to support the sanctity of life and march in support of its protection at all ages and stages. Many other Regnum Christi members made the pilgrimage to march in support of the sanctity of life with their parishes and dioceses. Here’s a snapshot of some of their experiences.

Pinecrest Academy

Dr. James Stone, the theology chair of Pinecrest Academy in Cumming, Georgia, led a group of high school juniors who spent the week leading up to the March in Washington D.C. exploring the sanctity of life in different facets. Alison Stone, Pinecrest Art Teacher and Chaperone said, “This journey began in the Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel at Pinecrest Academy where the junior class learned the historic and spiritual significance of a pilgrimage as a voyage to historic and sacred sites. It has the purpose of bringing one closer to God and loving one’s neighbor in the process. During this expedition the students learned about the high ideals on which this country was based, namely, our inalienable God given rights of life and liberty. While on this trip they learned about legislation to protect the unborn. They learned the history of our great nation and got to experience it, too.

They had a walking tour of the White House, Treasury Building, Supreme Court, The Capitol, Library of Congress, the Memorials on the National Mall, the Newseum, Arlington National Cemetery, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, President John F Kennedy’s Grave, the Holocaust Museum, the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, the Shrine of John Paul II, the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America, the Right To Life Youth Rally, the Mass for Life & the March for Life.” The evening before the March for Life, the students heard from Karen Cross, Political Director of the National Right to Life. Ms. Cross shared her experience of being a teenager confronted with an unplanned pregnancy, who chose abortion, regretted that decision, and has dedicated her life to protecting unborn babies and helping other women to choose life.

 

Everest Collegiate

Everest Collegiate & Academy students from Clarkston Michigan also made their trip to the March for Life a comprehensive week long educational and formative experience.  Part of that experience was meeting up with Pinecrest Academy students for Mass.  On the school’s blog, Miss Maria Mellis details,

“On Thursday evening, students joined fellow RC school students from Atlanta, Georgia’s Pinecrest Academy for an evening Mass, and Fr. Brian [Hoelzen, LC,] preached powerfully about our need to recognize and abandon tendencies of indifference in regards to all human life, be they the unborn, our peers, or the poor. He identified three modes of indifference: to not notice, to notice and not care, and finally, to both notice and care, but to take no action. The challenge to each of the participants was to choose caring and action over indifference in every relationship in our lives, including and extending beyond the unborn.”

Photo: Everest Collegiate and Pinecrest Academy students come together for Mass in Washington DC

 

Legionaries of Christ Novitiate and College of Humanities

35 Brothers from the Cheshire, CT, Novitiate and College of Humanitiescame to Washington DC for the prayer vigil, rally and March.  They also visited Arlington National Cemetery and the National Mall, praying for those who gave their lives in the service of the United States.

Photo:Brothers from the Legionaries of Christ Novitiate and College in front of the Supreme Court

The brothers came “to thank God for the gift of life, and to march to protect that gift for all,” according to Br. Peter Fagan, LC, who is originally from Denver Colorado and is currently serving in his internship as assistant to the rector of the seminary, Fr. Kevin Meehan.

Photo:Legionary brothers at the rally before the March for Life, “otherwise known as the wild party that begins way too early in the morning,” according to Br. Peter Fagan, LC

 

Sacred Heart Apostolic School

High school students from Sacred Heart Apostolic School, accompanied by Fr. Robert DeCesare, LC, Br. Christopher Daniels, LC, and Deacon Jesús Salinas, LC attended the March for Life and also visited some of the institutions of the United States Government and the American monuments in Washington, D.C.

Photo:Sacred Heart students at the Library of Congress

Several Legionaries, including Fr. Robert DeCesare, Deacon Jesús Salinas, Fr. Andreas Kramarz, Fr. John Sweeny and Fr. Stephen Liscinsky concelebrated with Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City at the Opening Mass of the Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

Photo:Preparing for the procession at the Opening Mass of the Vigil for Life

 

Photo: Fr. Robert DeCesare, LC, shares a priest’s eye view of the Opening Mass of the Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception

Fr. Matthew Schneider, LC, attended the March for Life with many other Regnum Christi members from Washington DC.  In his blog he rounds up 14 of the best signs he saw among the many thousands at the March for Life.

Photo:Fr. Matthew Schneider, LC, at the rally before the March for Life with pro-life Catholic speaker Obianuju Ekeocha

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Raising Our Voice for Both Lives 

Recently Chile was considering legalizing abortion in many cases. Regnum Christi members participated in pro-life events around the debate. In the end, Chile kept abortion illegal in almost all cases. 

A group of Regnum Christi families and young people participated in the Pañuelazo Por las Dos Vidas [blue handkerchief for both lives] which took place on September 8 in front of La Moneda [the Chilean White House]. The demonstration in support of mother and child was in response to a bill that would have decriminalized the interruption of pregnancy until 14 weeks of gestation [i.e. legal abortion up to 14 weeks]. 

The demonstration, which brought together about three thousand people with their sky-blue handkerchiefs, was convened by the Collective for the Two Lives, made up of or supported by 27 organizations including Testimonies for Life, the Women’s Movement for Reclaim, and Forever for Life. In the Argentine debate, those supporting the pro-life position repeatedly spoke of the two lives to show that abortion is bad for both mother and child. 

Two RC members, Paula Concha and Rebeca Garcés, gave us their testimony of what they experienced during the march. 

Paula Concha explained, “Being in favor of life motivated us to go and be brave as Christians, to raise our voices. I believe that today it is not so popular to be in favor of life in terms of protecting women and those who are about to be born: this handkerchief was for both lives. Also, in giving testimony, we feel that we can do something to keep this law from being approved.”  

Rebeca Garcés noted, “What we are playing with is literally life and death, therefore, all of us who support life, especially the most vulnerable, we must make an effort to participate in these activities and raise your voice.” 

During the march, some pregnant women sounded sonographs with the heartbeats of their children, amplifying them with megaphones. They called this “La Voz del Corazón” [the voce of the heart], which gave these unborn children a symbolic voice, and showed that there is another human being, a baby, in their bellies. Also, the “Cueca for both lives” was heard, which was accompanied by the sky blue handkerchiefs, followed by attendees doing the Cueca dance, a traditional dance of the area. 

To close the demonstration of the blue handkerchiefs, leaders read a petition that was delivered to the Government soon after, requesting laws that would protect the lives of both mother and child. The Collective for the Two Lives detailed that it will call a march of national character late in 2018. 

Read the original on the Regnum Christi Chile site 

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A Home in Time of Hope

Imagine you are a married couple who plans to raise a family.  Maybe you would like enough children to field your own basketball team.

If you are Catholic, you are more likely to have a larger family. And in this imaginary case the family is Catholic and simply can’t conceive.

The hope for a large family becomes a desperate hope for a child, maybe two.  And the fear grows of being a childless couple in a Catholic world of couples with kids.

According to the Centers for Disease Control Nation Center for Health Statistics (CDC for short), of American women in their childbearing age, 12.1 percent have “impaired fecundity” and 6.7 percent are infertile. By the way, the CDC defines the childbearing years as 15-44.

Bottom line: millions of couples have a difficult time conceiving a child. And more than one in 10 women will use “infertility services” in an effort to have a child.

For Catholics and practitioners of some other religions, some of the infertility services cross the moral line.  Ironically, moral issues arise in the area of creating fertility much as in preventing conception via artificial birth control.

That’s where the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction enters the picture.

The Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha, NE, founded in 1985 by Thomas W. Hilgers, MD, is internationally recognized for its outstanding achievements in the field of natural fertility regulation and reproductive medicine — 33 years of scientific research and educational program development; allied health professional education programs for couples and professionals; professional, caring, and morally acceptable patient services. The Institute is building a culture of life in women’s health care through its major developments — Creighton Model Fertility Care System and NaProTechnology.

And as its name suggests, the Institute works strictly in conformity with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Its mission is “Building a Culture of Life in Women’s Care.”

There is a good deal of medical science and technology.  But helping couples who can’t conceive also requires a high level of loving bedside manner. Couple who come for consultation and treatment may have to spend days or even weeks, often needing a place to stay.

That where Carolyn Moriarty steps in as part Bed & Breakfast operator, part mom, part grandmother and a sometimes shoulder to cry on.

Carolyn joined Regnum Christi in Kansas City in 1997. She is a cradle Catholic, second oldest of eight children, who raised her own son and daughter – and her brother’s son and daughter after he died when they were very young.

Her son Michael today is Fr. Michael Moriarty, LC, who works with youth in Philadelphia. He also has been known to write and perform music and was choir director during his years of study in Rome.

Carolyn went to the PPVI in 1980 to learn about natural family planning.  After her kids were grown, she went back to work as a medical secretary in the maternity unit of a hospital in Omaha.

She became close friends with a female doctor at the hospital who worked with the Institute. Her new friend asked if she would be willing to have a visiting medical resident stay at her home.

Carolyn figured it wouldn’t be much trouble, so she welcomed her first house guest. And even though she was working and had a host of family obligations, she embarked on what grew into an informal Bed and Breakfast for travelers to the Institute.

“I really enjoy having the people around,” Carolyn said. “Each visitor is unique and a total blessing to me.

“I get emotionally involved with everyone who stays here and when they get pregnant later and have a baby, they send pictures…I feel like I’m a grandma again!”

In addition to being a “grandma by association,” Carolyn is a real Nonni to her daughter Emily’s three children and, appropriately enough, those three kids were the result of Emily’s treatment at the Institute. This is one reason Carolyn wants to help other young women who are hoping for a family.

“The people who stay here are always so appreciative and tell me I’m doing a great service, but I feel like I’m the one who really benefits. When couple goes through treatment and then has a baby they are so thrilled – and I get to share in that joy.  That’s the best part of this.

“A couple who stayed here recently decided to adopt and are looking forward to that, while they continue receiving infertility care.”

Occasionally, the story doesn’t have as happy an ending.  Carolyn recalls a women who went through treatment but the doctors were unable to help.

“She and her husband came back to the house and we just sat and cried together. But we stay in touch and they have recently adopted a baby girl. This couple has a special place in my heart because we grieved together.”

Carolyn’s usual guests are couples getting counseling and treatment at the Institute.  But she also has had doctors, nurses and people learning to teach the NFP charting methods used at the Institute.

For Carolyn, her “simple apostolate” is all about providing a homey atmosphere for visiting couples who are going through a difficult time in their lives.  After all, by the time they have decided to visit The Pope Paul VI Institute, they likely have experienced years of frustration and visited their personal doctors, received advice from well-meaning friends and family, and are experiencing a combination of hope and fear. The Institute isn’t the first step in the path to parenthood, but probably the last chance.

A simple internet search on “infertility” will generate myriad articles on everything from medical advice to superstitious solutions to well-meaning paths to acceptance. There are even columns about how to have a sense of humor about not being able to have a baby.

Carolyn Moriarty’s apostolate is a simpler, more loving, totally Catholic solution.  She offers patience, understanding, hospitality, and love. Her home is a place of hope.

 

 

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A Path to Saving Lives in New Haven

Carolyn Falcigno with a client family

God called on many souls to create the St. Gianna Pregnancy Center in New Haven, Connecticut, in 2012.  The center officially opened on the Feast of our Lady of Guadalupe: the 12th day of the 12th month in the 12th year of the century.   

Many of those who created the Gianna Center would swear they had inadequate preparation for the job and there is so much more work to be done.  But the persistence of a priest, a former Planned Parenthood customer turned pro-life advocate, a pair of determined Regnum Christi members, and numerous other (obscure and famous) brought the center to life. The center saves hundreds of lives each year. 

The center depends on donors and volunteers.  For three key members of the team, it is a labor of love, faith and passion. 

Phil Liquori is acting board chairman of the Gianna Center. He is a member of Regnum Christi, who also works full-time with the Legionaries of Christ seminary in Cheshire, CT. 

Carolyn Falcigno is the center’s executive director.  She is a Regnum Christi member who played a vital role in launching the center. 

Phil and Mary Liquori

Heidi Kehlenbach is the center’s treasurer. As a young woman, she had an abortion at Planned Parenthood, later converting to the Roman Catholic faith, determined to help others avoid the pains of abortion. 

And then there is Fr. Robert Rousseau of the Archdiocese of Hartford, who (with Jesus) is the person who runs through the entire story. 

On the evening of November 4, 1991, Fr. Rousseau, then pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church in Watertown, CT, was leaving a meeting in the church. He heard a baby’s cry coming from a box: a baby. 

Fr. Rousseau had one of the women at the meeting, whom he knew was a nurse, help while someone called 911. The baby was no more than three hours old. She was taken to Waterbury Hospital by the emergency team. 

Fr. Rousseau suggested they give the foundling child a name. Because November 4 is the feast of St. Charles Borromeo, he called her Carolyn and he gave her the middle name Marie for our Blessed Mother.  

Carolyn Marie was adopted confidentially but her story did not end there. With the prayers and hard work of a core group of parishioners, one year later, Carolyn’s Place, Inc. opened its doors, in order that “No woman should face pregnancy alone.” 

Fr. Rousseau stayed active in the pro-life movement and years later as pastor of St. Ambrose Parish in New Haven, he joined many of his parishioners in praying at the local Planned Parenthood facility.  Frustrated by the lack of a pro-life option in New Haven, he pulled together a group of people at the church, including those who would become the Gianna Center’s leaders: Phil, Carolyn, and Heidi. 

“There were about 25 people in that meeting with Father,” Carolyn recalled.  “All of us were strongly pro-life and had been praying at Planned Parenthood.  Now everyone was able to be part of creating a center, but some of us were and we wanted to provide women with a REAL choice.” 

Heidi Kehlenbach with a client family

“I have been one of those young girls going to Planned Parenthood for an abortion when I was 19,” Heidi said.  “I suffered the hurt and pain, but later converted to the faith, went on a retreat – where I met Carolyn – and started my pro-life work, which hasn’t stopped.” 

“That gathering with Father was in 2009,” Phil recalled.  “Father made it clear that he couldn’t create the center, we would have to do it. I had no idea how to make it happen, but working with the Legion and Regnum Christi, I had the confidence to make the leap of faith and get involved.” 

Plans for the center started in 2010 and in late 2012, it was open – with the blessing of Archbishop Henry Mansell. The Knights of Columbus have provided valuable support. When they later moved to a new facility, Hartford’s current Archbishop Leonard Blair gave them a second blessing. 

“The response since then has been amazing,” Phil said.  “People have come forward to volunteer, donate supplies for babies, and write checks.” 

Carolyn explained that the Gianna Center (named for St. Gianna Molla) is much more than a place to refer expectant mothers for medical services.   

“The women we serve are mostly between 16 and 30 years of age,” Carolyn said. “In most cases and biological father is uninvolved and the woman may be frightened, confused and in need of housing, food and the basics of life.  We become like a family to her, making connections to get her what is needed to bring her baby to term and make that decision to give life.” 

Carolyn and Phil with Archbishop Blair

“Many of these woman have had a difficult life,” Heidi explained.  “That’s why when they arrive we applaud them – we give them encouragement and hope.” 

There certainly are challenges and disappointments, but Carolyn and Heidi recalled one woman who came to them after being raped – and she already had a 12-year-old son and needed support to keep the new child.  Her son came with her to the center and after being with the volunteers and experience their unconditional love, told his mom not to have an abortion but to “have my little sister.” 

That 12-year-old boy now is an 18-year-old you man who volunteers at the Gianna Center on Saturdays and participates in pro-life activities. 

The center has received support from the Regnum Christi community in Cheshire, as well as the seminary.  The local Conquest and Challenge clubs have volunteered at the center and Legionary seminarians joined the center volunteers for the New Haven March for Life this year. 

As a volunteer activity, the center is open only on Saturdays – but still serves upwards of 250 clients per year.   

“We want to expand our use of the mobile ultrasound unit and we just launched a new program to help young moms with parenting and family skills,” Carolyn said. Heidi adds that growing is costly, so they depend on the generosity of donors and the success of their annual “Babies in Bloom” benefit dinner. 

This year’s event will be April 29, 2018, in New Haven. 

Guest speaker will be Chris Slattery, who has worked in the pro-life movement fulltime since 1990 – and perhaps most famously was the confirmation sponsor for former abortionist Dr. Bernard Nathanson. 

The benefit also will honor Choose Life at Yale (CLAY), the student pro-life group at Yale, which has provided volunteer help for the center and partnered in pro-life activities. 

And it is a good bet Fr. Rousseau will be there.  Today he is director of pro-life activities for the Archdiocese of Hartford. 

“Thinking back on our journey with the center, I have depended so much on the support of my Regnum Christi family,” Carolyn stressed.  “Knowing they are there makes it possible for me to take on something I could never do alone.” 

“What we do at Gianna Center is really simple,” Phil said.  “We take the love we have received from Christ and pass it on to others.” 

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Alex Kucera

Atlanta

Alex Kucera has lived in Atlanta, GA, for the last 46 years. He is one of 9 children, married to his wife Karmen, and has 3 girls, one grandson, and a granddaughter on the way. Alex joined Regnum Christi in 2007. Out of the gate, he joined the Helping Hands Medical Missions apostolate and is still participating today with the Ghana Friendship Mission.

In 2009, Alex was asked to be the Atlanta RC Renewal Coordinator for the Atlanta Locality to help the RC members with the RC renewal process. Alex became a Group Leader in 2012 for four of the Atlanta Men’s Section Teams and continues today. Running in parallel, in 2013, Alex became a Team Leader and shepherded a large team of good men.

Alex was honored to be the Atlanta Mission Coordinator between 2010 to 2022 (12 years), coordinating 5-8 Holy Week Mission teams across Georgia. He also created and coordinated missions at a parish in Athens, GA, for 9 years. Alex continues to coordinate Holy Week Missions, Advent Missions, and Monthly missions at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Cumming, GA.

From 2016 to 2022, Alex also served as the Men’s Section Assistant in Atlanta. He loved working with the Men’s Section Director, the Legionaries, Consecrated, and Women’s Section leadership teams.

Alex is exceptionally grateful to the Legionaries, Consecrated, and many RC members who he’s journeyed shoulder to shoulder, growing his relationship with Christ and others along the way. He knows that there is only one way, that’s Christ’s Way, with others!