This article was authored by League staffer Julie McCreevy.
You never know what part of the globe Monsignor Philip Reilly could be trekking to on any given day. The Spirit blows where He will—and takes Monsignor right along, planting seeds of new Helpers chapters around the world.
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Active in the pro-life movement for the past thirty-five years, Monsignor founded the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants in 1989 with just four volunteers outside the infamous Choices abortion center in Brooklyn, NY. Helpers Chapters now span the United States and eighteen countries. Monsignor will make his first visit to Africa this summer.
Msgr. Reilly, Rosary in hand, explains the Helpers mission, Feb. 4 [Photo by Julie McCreevy]
In the midst of this pro-life whirlwind, Mrs. Fran Fortier, Director of the Joliet Diocese Respect Life Office, managed to bring Monsignor Reilly to the Joliet Diocese to instruct and inspire the Joliet and Chicago Helpers. Together we promoted Monsignor’s two-day visit.
The Church Confronting the Culture of Death
Thurdsay evening, February 3, Monsignor led a Eucharistic Holy Hour at St. Isaac Jogues Parish in Hinsdale, IL, followed by a spiritually and intellectually challenging meditation on the problem of the Culture of Death. Monsignor explained how our response as Catholics and as Helpers can make a difference as we live the teachings of the Church and reflect the reality of Christ crucified.
Monsignor displayed his gift for making the profoundest truths accessible to all as he summarized three great Church documents on the sanctity of life written in response to specific attacks on human life during the Twentieth Century: 1968’s Humanae Vitae on contraception, 1987’s Donum Vitae on artificial reproduction and 1995’s Evangelium Vitae on abortion and other attacks on the sanctity of life. It was in Evangelium Vitae that Pope John Paul II sounded the alarm on the “Culture of Death.”
The Price of Conversion
The following morning, February 4, Monsignor offered Mass and then led the faithful in a prayer vigil to ACU abortion center. The mill, owned by notorious abortionist Vinod Goyal, sits in the heart of beautiful suburban Hinsdale, IL in a well-maintained building where one would never suspect that crimes against humanity are perpetrated on a daily basis. The missionary image of Our Lady of Guadalupe accompanied the group during the prayer vigil and gave hope that ACU would close.
After the vigil, the group returned to the St. Isaac Jogues Parish Center for continental breakfast and a three-hour sidewalk counseling seminar presented by Msgr. Reilly. Monsignor told the group of seventy-five Chicago and Joliet Helpers that the original Latin root in the word “infant” means “one who cannot speak for himself.” A Helper of God’s Precious Infants is one who speaks for the innocent unborn child who is unable to speak for himself.
Monsignor explained that “just as the price of our salvation was the incomprehensible suffering and sacrifice of the Son of God, so the price of converting a culture of death or any person involved in this culture will require nothing less than losing our own life, in whatever way God calls us, in imitation of Christ, for the conversion of the world.”
Mary at the Foot of the Cross
Monsignor held up Our Lady as the perfect role model in this suffering with Christ. He confided that he often thought that the Good Thief was helped to repentance through the example of the Blessed Mother, as he watched her standing at the foot of the Cross, suffering with her Son. Monsignor explained, “As gold is purified in the fire, our own crosses offered to Christ for the conversion of ourselves and the world will keep us from approaching the abortion bound mother or father with anger or bitterness.”
Monsignor explained that when we’re out at the abortion clinic and we ask, “How could anyone do this to their own baby?” we must realize the abortion-bound mom or dad may have lived a life of darkness, with little knowledge of God and surrounded by temptation and sin. When they face a crisis pregnancy, they are overwhelmed with fear. Devoid of the light of Christ, with no one to bring this light to them, they fall into the trap of believing abortion is the solution.
Helpers Offer Light of Christ in the Darkness
This is where the Helper of God’s Precious Infants says, “There but for the grace of God go I,” and approaches these lost souls with the light of Christ. A baby’s life is saved through the mercy, hope and strength that his or her parents receive from the Helper, who has received these gifts from Christ.
Our ultimate hope is that this encounter will not only save one of God’s precious infants, but that the child’s parents will move closer to salvation—that in time they too can proclaim, “To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever” (Rev 5:13).