To the Editor:
I am writing because I have closed a circle with The Catholic Messenger. Perhaps 40 years ago the paper had a columnist who was an Augustinian priest. He had a column in which he was showing that mirroring God’s compassion was something we could provide when a woman chose to have an abortion. The columnist described told the story of a young woman who adamantly insisted she was going to get an abortion. If I remember correctly, he wrote that after explaining his opposition to her plan, he wanted her to know that he was not abandoning her.
Over these decades, the priest’s behavior remained hypothetical for me. Then, one evening as I was about to leave for dinner, a student who had excelled in one of my courses two years previously knocked on and closed my door in an uninterrupted motion. She informed me she was going to have an abortion.
She was not interested in treading the ground to her decision. She was looking for me to accept her, to respect her as a person whatever her decision. I suspect that my graying hair and balding head had qualified me for the role of being her “good father.” Suddenly that priest’s behavior opened my tongue to let her know that I was a person she could approach at any time in the future. “May I stop by your residence hall around eight tonight to see how you are doing?” “Sure, if you want to,” and she was gone.
Our visit that evening was brief. She said she was “O.K.,” and thanked me for visiting. She said there was no likelihood we would talk again. I never saw her again, but pray for her daily.
I am grateful the Messenger planted the seed all those years ago.
Mount Vernon, New York
To the Editor: