Tell us about yourself!
In my Protestant life, I worked full-time in a Christian pro-life ministry - a crisis pregnancy center. When I became Orthodox in 2008 I felt like I went from swimming in a pond to swimming in the ocean. Everything opened up for me and my view of the sanctity of life grew even deeper and richer.
I am married to a wonderful man that I met later in life. We have been married for 18 years. When I entered into this marriage, I inherited three stepdaughters and I now have four grandchildren. I am a retired nurse and my last official job was as the medical services director for a crisis pregnancy center. My husband is a radiologist and he used to volunteer at the pregnancy center reading ultrasound scans.
I am a jack of all trades and wear many hats. I am the bookkeeper for our church and I also teach Sunday school. I also have incorporated the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program into our preschool program. It is quite an endeavor, but hugely rewarding. I have been married for 37 years to the most wonderful person. He has been so supportive of all the deep dives that I have taken.
Cindy and I met when I started attending St. Matthew about 12 years ago. We got to be friends, and she asked me if I would be interested in working in an administrative position at the local pregnancy center. That just set the wheels in motion.
Have you always been pro-life?
It wasn’t until I entered into that pro-life ministry that I really gave any thought to the issue. Working there forced me to take a closer look at my beliefs. So, for the past couple of decades I have been very actively pro-life. That perspective has grown and matured over the years to include the appreciation for the sanctity of all life from birth to natural death.
When I was 20, I actually had an abortion. It was not until sometime after that, that I became pro-life. After I became Orthodox, I was fully committed to the pro-life movement and saw the great importance of it. Values are just so much richer in Orthodoxy and we have such a deeper and fuller understanding of life. Recently, I have become somewhat of a pro-life activist, but always with Orthodoxy at the forefront of that activism.
How have your past experiences shaped your pro-life stance?
I have suffered from my own wounds, and when I completed my Masters through the St. Stephen’s Program, my thesis was looking at the anatomy of a wound, how physical wounds mimic spiritual wounds. It helped me realize the reality of sexual brokenness and how the Church is meant to be the hospital for that. This is a really challenging time we are in and I am sure it is only going to get more challenging. But the Church, as the ark of salvation, has sailed through rough waters before and it will again. We are all called to participate in the Faith, both corporately and individually, and what we do at OCLife helps with that. Because of my past experience, a big part of our group’s pro-life stance is tying in the sexual ethics and integrity piece. We teach our teens (and adults) the importance of maintaining sexual purity.
From my experience of having an abortion, I would say that I just felt like there wasn’t anybody that I could go to who would understand the situation I was in and would have been willing to help. I needed someone in my life who wasn’t afraid to talk about it with me. I hope that we can be that for women. Orthodox women might not know there are people in their parishes that will respond in that positive way that would have helped me and that’s what we hope having an active OCLife ministry will help people realize. I was able to do a post-abortion recovery program at the local pregnancy center, but that is something we have also incorporated into our OCLife [ministry].
What are some accomplishments of your ministry?
We have a very active Right to Life campaign in our area [with] a large pro-life conference every year. For the past two years we have had an OCLife booth there. We are the only Orthodox there and people are very interested in us. The teens and young adults help us staff the booth to hand out literature and answer questions during the conference. We have also been involved with Zoe for Life!, an Orthodox crisis pregnancy center. We have supported them for years.
Put in your own words, what role do you think OCLife fills in the Church and why is it important?
What I would love to see is parishioners having an awakening to the realization that it is not enough to be a warrior or a guardian of the Orthodox faith, you must also be on fire for Life. I know that it is often difficult to talk [about] with people because this topic is uncomfortable, but I want to be someone who is shining light on the issue. We must remind people that we are the Church and that abortion is not political. The sanctity of life is not political. Thankfully, in the Orthodox Church we have many crew members and we can all work together to protect life.