Praying with Leo

This article was authored by sidewalk counselor Wally Stumpf.

Today I was at the American Women’s Clinic in Chicago with the Gospel of Life group from Mundelein Seminary and the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants. I was on the sidewalk beside the driveway handing out pro-life information and counseling anyone who would listen to me.

A red Toyota Camry turned into the driveway at a reckless speed, barely missing me. The car parked, and as the couple got out of the car, I called out to them: “I have some information for you. I want to talk to you!” The man, who looked in his early thirties, stopped briefly, turned to me and barked, “Does it look like I want to [expletive] talk to you?” He and the woman proceeded into the clinic.

“Can You Give Me Your Blessing?”

Ten minutes later, he came out alone and he called out to Father Dan who was with us, “Father, can you give me your blessing?” At this point I stepped away and let Father do his work.

“Father, can you give me your blessing?”

In the meantime, the woman came out and got back into their car, which was parked near the back of the lot. Then the man began to walk back to the car. He had with him the information with the crisis pregnancy phone numbers. I ran around the block to the back alley and knelt on the ground outside the chain-link fence, positioning myself so the couple could see me in the mirror as they sat in their car. I began to pray the Rosary.

I caught a glimpse of the man looking at me in his side mirror. I motioned for him, and he got out of the car and walked toward me. He knelt down on his side of the fence and he extended the fingers of his left hand through the chain-link. I held them in my hand. He looked into my eyes. His countenance was changed—still troubled, but not angry. Here was the same man who half an hour earlier had nearly run me down and cursed me.

“Now You Have Four Children”

“I am a man of the streets,” he told me. “I did a lot of bad things. Look, last year I got shot in the face.” He pointed to the scar below his eye.

His name was Leo. “Do you have other children, Leo?” I asked.

“Yes, I have three,” he responded.

“What are their names?” He told me the names and ages of his three children.

“And now they will have a new brother or sister.”

Tears came to his eyes. “I don’t know why I came over here,” Leo continued. “Something about how you were here, how you look, you’re going to save many. I don’t know about this one.”

“We can help, Leo,” I said. “Do the right thing. Now you have four children.”

He looked at me in silence for a time. Then he said, “Yeah, four . . . thank you.” He got back into his car and drove out of the abortion clinic parking lot and down the street. I watched his car disappear from view.

Walter “Wally” Stumpf is studying for the priesthood for the Diocese of Green Bay, WI at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, IL, where he is an active member of the Helpers-trained Gospel of Life Group.

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