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    Once Silent, Florida Knight Now Saves Lives

    Art Reilly of Council 15332 in Sarasota, Fla., talks about the Knights work with a local pregnancy center that saves hundreds of lives a year.

    by Rose Wagner 10/21/2019

    What first motivated you to care about pro-life issues?
    I have always been pro-life. However, during my very busy business career, my home, family and parish occupied all my free time. In addition, during those years, the topics of abortion, euthanasia and even capital punishment were not the subject of discussion among business colleagues, family, social friends or even at Mass.

    Over time, the national political dialog elevated the issue and increasingly raised my awareness of what was happening. The post Roe v. Wade reality of abortion became more widely known and shook the national conscience. I began to recognize abortion for what it is — a moral offense against God and the sanctity of his gift of life. I saw abortion as an act that society would one day soon look upon as it does human slavery today.

    How did joining the Knights impact your pro-life work?
    My business career had me traveling domestically and internationally about 80% of the time and about 150,000 miles a year. Once I retired, I joined the Knights as a charter member of Incarnation Council 15332.

    I quickly met other Knights who were very active in pro-life work. Their character and example gave me avenues to promote the pro-life cause by helping moms, saving babies and building stronger families.

    Being pro-life is a family affair for Art and his fellow Knights of Incarnation Council 15332. Here Tim Ryan and his children distribute roses on Mother’s Day. The sale raised funds for the SOLVE Maternity Homes. (Image courtesy Art Reilly.)

    Article originally published in Knightline, a monthly resource for K of C leaders and members. To access Knightline archives, click here. Can you describe your council’s pro-life work?
    Our council’s first grand knight was an active pro-life leader and encouraged Knights to pray in front of the local Planned Parenthood.

    So by the end of our first year, Respect Life was a significant program in our council. Knights had begun serving as our parish’s 40 Days for Life coordinators, and we began working with other local councils to collect funds to purchase an ultrasound machine — which average $30,000 — for a nearby pregnancy center. Our drive was more successful than we could have imagined and, through the K of C Ultrasound Initiative, we were able to purchase not one but two ultrasound machines.

    Do you have a favorite story of a "pro-life moment”?
    A couple of years ago, during a 40 Days for Life program, I was speaking about the Sarasota Medical Pregnancy Center (SMPC).

    That evening, I received a call from a friend. She told me that her co-worker was in an abusive relationship and was considering an abortion. My friend asked if I could help in any way. I contacted the center early the next morning and asked them to follow-up: A SMPC nurse counselor got the necessary contact information and then called the young woman.

    The woman told the SMPC staff that she had been scheduled to have an abortion, but it had been postponed — the local Planned Parenthood office had closed in anticipation of Hurricane Irma. And the woman had been pondering whether the hurricane was a sign from God, that she should not have the abortion. The call from the center further solidified her notion that God was leading her on another path.

    For some time I never knew the end to this woman’s story. But in January, my friend informed me that her co-worker had an ultrasound and had chosen a name for her baby. And in June, my friend showed me pictures of her friend’s very happy and healthy baby girl.

    View Larger Image

    ULTRASOUND INITIATIVE
    Since the Ultrasound Initiative launched in 2009, councils have helped place ultrasound machines in pro-life pregnancy centers around the world. When a council raises half the cost of an ultrasound machine the Supreme Council matches that amount through the Order's
    Culture of Life Fund Do you have tips to share with councils or individual Knights looking to get motivated in doing pro-life work?
    My tip: Be aware of all the pro-life resources in your area and learn how they fit together.

    I find that even people who are committed to the pro-life position do not know what local pregnancy centers can provide. If they knew, they could better educate women who feel overwhelmed and alone.

    It’s important that Knights realize that pro-life centers vary greatly from one to the next. Some centers offer very basic services, but may not offer continued counseling. Others offer a range of services for more long-term help. (Click here to see what the SMPC offers.)

    Knights should encourage pro-life organizations to work together in what I refer to as their local “culture of life ecosystem.” That way, the whole community can give a mother the help she needs, for as long as she needs it.

    Have you found promoting pro-life work helps grow your council?
    It certainly has contributed greatly to an increase in the pride that our Knights have for our council and its programs. Further, the council’s leadership in this area has garnered respect from clergy and parishioners at our parish and at other local churches, including non-Catholic churches.

    Have any questions about organizing your own pro-life programs? Seeking advice or encouragement for successful implementation into your council? Contact fraternalmission@kofc.org.

    For detailed instructions and access to all pro-life action steps, resources and forms, visit kofc.org/life.

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