September Ministry of the Month: St. Paul Antiochian Church
Ministry Leader: Lillian Riccioli
Lillian’s passion for the pro-life cause stems from her own personal story of life and experiences with her son and goddaughter. This has given her a love for the unborn that is expressed in the Orthodox Christians for Life ministry she leads.
Not only has the ministry been able to raise money and supplies for the local pregnancy resource center, but they have also witnessed Orthodoxy to the pro-life community. When not caring for her two young children and new baby, Lillian enjoys baking and sewing, as well as experiencing the natural beauty of her home state. She was gracious enough to take the time to answer a few questions for us!
Why is the pro-life cause important to you?
I was born to a teen mom, who was offered/encouraged to choose abortion. I am so grateful she fought for my life, and that she saw my soul and body as worthy of protecting. My firstborn was also born with a birth defect which sadly, women often choose abortions because of. Most of all, the pro-life cause is important to me because my Goddaughter was almost the victim of abortion; by the grace of God, she was born and loved instead!
What big accomplishments has St. Paul has thus far?
We invited the Executive Director of our local pregnancy resource center to come educate our parish about the services they offer, as well as share some stories of babies who have recently been saved from abortion. She brought materials for parishioners to bring home, as well as life-sized displays of babies at different gestational ages. It was very educational and our parish showed a massive interest. Many people signed up directly with her to volunteer at the PRC as well which was exciting to see. [The Director] was overwhelmed with gratitude and shocked at the turnout. It also gave her her very first glimpse of Orthodoxy which was a great blessing. I was overwhelmed by the amount of baby/mother goods we were able to collect and donate!
Have church leaders been supportive of your ministry?
Fr Paul has been a great encouragement for our pro-life efforts at St Paul Parish. I am so grateful for his support and leadership, as well as the blessing and support of the elder of our local Monastery, Geronda Polycarp.
Have church leaders been supportive of your ministry? Do you have any words of encouragement for other Orthodox Christians interested in starting an OCLife ministry in their parish?
Just do it! If God has put this on your heart, then He will also give you the means to make it happen. It may feel difficult or slow going at first, but keep at it and momentum/interest will grow. The effort you make now could literally save lives! Do everything in love and humility, God will be with you.
Thank you Lillian for your invaluable leaership!