December Ministry of the Month: St. Anthony - San Diego, CA
Ministry Leader: Lorinda Fortuin
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a native Californian. I was born in San Francisco, then my family moved to Southern California when my dad joined the Air Force. I went to the University of California - Berkeley and married my husband during college, which was kind of crazy, but good. We’ve been married now for 32 years, with four wonderful children and four grandchildren. I really love being a grandmother!
I was raised Catholic, but I fell away when I went to college. Then, I met my husband who was a charismatic evangelical and liked him enough to start going to church with him. That’s when God really got ahold of me. Eventually, we realized that church was not a healthy place, so we left. We were invited to St. Anthony’s in San Diego and absolutely loved it from the get-go. Even before I walked in the doors, I heard the music and was smitten.
Have you always been pro-life?
The culture is so pro-abortion. It is the water we swim in. Nearly 50 years of legal abortion under Roe practically made my being pro-choice the default position. I just kept thinking that, of course, I’m for women’s rights and I’m pro-choice. Then, in the 80’s, my best friend got involved with Operation Rescue and my conscience was awakened. She showed me the film The Silent Scream produced by Dr. Barnard Nathanson, the abortion-rights activist and co-founding member of NARAL who later became one of the pro-life movement’s greatest champions. I realized that we are supposed to be civilized people and abortion is actually barbaric. That was back in my first year of college and I ended up getting really involved with the pro-life club at Berkeley. We did what we could, but as you can imagine, on such a hyper-liberal campus we got a lot of pushback and hostility.
Why is the pro-life movement so important to you?
If my grandfather had his way, my mother would have aborted me. So, it is very personal. . . I think most people know at least one person who has been personally impacted by abortion. We are called to show Jesus to a lost and dying world. The issue of life is so central, because Jesus lived, so we need to reflect that back to this dark world. We don’t want to come off as judgmental or accusatory, but instead we should approach this ministry and the pro-life cause with humility and with grace, just like Jesus would.
What makes your group so strong?
Our members are passionate. We have a really solid group who want to do all they can to help. They are the backbone and help our parish ministry to flourish. Having the support of your priest is also so important. Thankfully, we have a wonderful, vibrant community that is very engaged on this issue. A big part of maintaining that is to constantly be planning activities that keep the ministry at the forefront.
What are some unique activities you've held?
We have our monthly prayer vigils in front of the downtown San Diego Planned Parenthood, which more often than not are led by local Orthodox clergy. In March, we had the San Diego Orthodox Clergy Council take a tour of one of our local pregnancy resource centers. That allowed them to learn a lot about what pregnancy resource centers do and it was really inspiring. I think it is so important to have our priests connected with the pregnancy resource centers, so they know where to send parishioners who are experiencing difficult or unexpected pregnancies.
Why do you think the work of OCLife is so important?
It is so important because our culture has fully embraced abortion. From its inception, the church has condemned abortion, but so many parishioners don’t agree with that or they don’t know that. According to a Pew Research poll, over 50% of people who are Orthodox Christian identify as pro-choice, which is so disheartening. So, we pray and hope to slowly chip away at that percentage. If we could make this a priority for our clergy, then they could raise up people to be pro-life leaders and encourage their parishes to become affiliated with OCLife. That would go a long way in creating the change we need in the Church on this issue.