At the pro-life march in Plattsburg, NY January 13: (from left) Fr. Howard McCasland, Joe, Wanda Gaffney. and Fr. Bryan Stitt
My first talk in 2007 was in Plattsburg, New York on January 13, at the Newman Center for the Thirty-Third Annual Bishop Cunningham Awards Dinner. All arrangements were made by old friends Bart and Wanda Gaffney. The events began with a march of pro-lifers and honor guard Sunday afternoon from the Newman Center to St. John’s Catholic Church for the talk.
Brave Priest Tackles Contraception
But the highlight of my trip was at Mass on Sunday morning at St. Peter’s Church. For the first time in my life I heard a Sunday sermon on contraception given to a full congregation, and not at a special seminar or conference. The young priest who delivered the sermon was Fr. Bryan Stitt, an assistant pastor. He apologized to the congregation for not having spoken on the issue before, and then spelled out the Church’s traditional teaching on the subject, even mentioning that use of artificial contraception is a serious matter for confession.
Later, during breakfast together, we all congratulated Fr. Stitt on his courage and wisdom, and asked him for a copy of his homily. He said he had not written it out, but that he would make a copy of his sermon if we thought anyone would want to read it. He delivered it to me at the March for Life in Washington the next week. I have copies of his talk at the League office for the asking, and it is available for download [PDF]. I told Fr. Stitt that his sermon forced me to change my talk where I have always said, “I have yet to hear a good sermon on contraception from the pulpit at Sunday Mass.” He said I could say it, but add, “Until Plattsburg.”
Joe and Ann Scheidler with Ed and Marilyn Melone in Naples, FL
500 Attend Students for Life Talk
During our trip to Washington, DC for the 34th Annual March for Life (see story), I had the honor of giving three talks. I spoke to 500 students at Catholic University on Saturday night, January 20, at the Pryzbyla Center for the 20th Annual gathering of Students for Life of America and received the “Defender of Life” award. On Sunday morning, January 21, I spoke at Rock for Life‘s Training and Activism Weekend, and on Monday addressed Rhode Island Right to Life, under the direction of long-time activist Joan McKosker, at their breakfast in the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill. Bobby Schindler was the other speaker, and we had some fun exchanging names.
My next trip was with Ann to Naples, Florida at the invitation of Ed Melone to speak at their Action for Life Annual Dinner at the St. John the Evangelist Life Center. Among celebrities there were Sheriff John McDougal, known for holding a pro-life sign out of his sheriff’s car window, Joe and Eileen Hennessey, Mary La Hood, Judy Katz and Fr. Michael Beers. We stayed over to spend a day with Jerry and Kathleen Sullivan. Kathleen founded Project Reality, headquartered in Glenview, IL.