MANASSAS, Va. — The Knights of Columbus has donated its 1,000th ultrasound machine to pregnancy centers around the world, fulfilling a 10-year initiative to give millions of babies a chance at life.
This 10-year program started with a donation of two life-saving ultrasound machines to pro-life pregnancy centers in 2009. On Jan. 14, Knights from Father Herman J. Vegar Council 5561 in Warrenton, Va., donated machine 1,000 to the Mother of Mercy Free Medical Clinic in Manassas, Va.
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson was present at the unveiling of the new machine, along with representatives from Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington. Anderson said that the Knights’ Ultrasound Initiative is the greatest humanitarian effort the organization has ever undertaken.
“Today represents a very concrete way in which millions of lives are changed for the better by the Catholic community coming together and volunteering together,” said Anderson. “What greater legacy can a person have than to save a child’s life?”
The Ultrasound Initiative is a staple of the Faith In Action program developed by the Knights of Columbus. Over $49 million in machines have been donated to pro-life pregnancy centers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, as well as Brazil, Canada, Jamaica, Peru and Africa.
“I am grateful for the collective efforts of our Knights to help achieve this monumental goal,” said Anderson. “We look forward to reaching many more milestones as we continue to strive to save the lives of vulnerable unborn children.”
The Mother of Mercy Free Medical Clinic used to be the Amethyst Health Center, a pro-choice facility that provided abortion procedures. But when an opportunity arose to purchase the building, a group of Catholic entrepreneurs from several parishes in and around Manassas formed a charitable trust called the BVM Foundation. The foundation raised the money to purchase the clinic and transform it into a life-saving facility.
“What we have now is the antithesis of an abortion clinic,” said Jim Koehr, a member of the BVM Foundation. “We have a clinic that doesn’t try to fix one life by ending another life. We have a clinic that serves the whole woman and all of her needs.”
Koehr is an active member of Council 5561. Once the Mother of Mercy Clinic was established, he reached out to his brother Knights in the council to see if they could fund an ultrasound machine for the new facility. The council had just donated an ultrasound machine to nearby Warrenton Pregnancy Center in Warrenton, Va. The council raised more than $20,000 for the ultrasounds, as well as training for the volunteer medical staff.
Director of Warrenton Pregnancy Center Katherine Adams noted that the Knights’ donation and training has helped share her clinic’s message that “life is not a disease, there are options available.”
Both the ultrasound and training helped establish a close relationship between the Knights and the pro-life centers in the area.
“I feel as the director of this center that I have a great relationship with our Knights, that I can reach out to them and tell them what our needs are and they will do its darnedest to help me,” Adams said.
After the ultrasound was given to the Warrenton Pregnancy Center, the council followed up with Koehr’s suggestion to help the Mother of Mercy Free Clinic. Operated by the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington, the clinic is staffed by volunteer health care professionals, serving an estimated 4,500 low-income men and women without healthcare insurance in the Manassas area. It offers mental health counseling, pregnancy and adoption services and emergency services for those who might be facing eviction.
Together these two machines make the 999th and 1,000th machines donated by the Knights around the world.
“We are thrilled at the opportunity to provide not just one, but a second one. To be the 1,000th, to have that distinction as well, it certainly provides us with a little bit of pride and satisfaction that we are fulfilling our goal as Knights,” said Bill Anzenberger, grand knight of Council 5561. “This pregnancy center would not have been able to achieve funding for this ultrasound machine in the timeliness that it occurred without the assistance of the Knights of Columbus.”
The impact of the ultrasound was immediate. A pregnant woman arrived at the clinic while the machine was being donated in an attempt to get an abortion. However, one of the center’s volunteers convinced her to return the next day for an ultrasound appointment.
“God had a purpose for that 1,000th ultrasound to be at the clinic where what once was a place of death is now a place of life,” said Mother of Mercy Free Clinic’s director Alexandra Luevano. “It is amazing how the Holy Spirit works.”
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