“The first thing that happened after we opened, women came in still thinking it was an abortion clinic, so we prepped to be Christ for these women,” Nowland said. “Six months later, an abortion clinic opened across town. Seventeen months later, is closed. Since we opened, we have 26 saves.”
Nowland told the dinner guests stories about the work of the New Life Center, sharing stories of support for immigrant families, women who were told they had to have an abortion, and even parents of babies who have come up to Nowland and the New Life Center staff and thanked them for changing their minds on abortion.
“There was one sidewalk protest where we were praying and a woman walked up to us. A friend of mine, a strong prayer warrior, came up to the woman, asking her if she was there for an abortion,” Nowland said. “She said yes, and I said, ‘Hey, do you want to get an ultrasound for free?’”
The woman agreed, and later met Nowland outside the New Life Center.
“This woman for a long time looked at me, and then she gave me this big hug and said, ‘Thank you, I am glad you are here. You are the first person to tell me I could keep my baby,’” Nowland said.
“That is what this center is about: to give care and support, when no one else will,” Nowland added to a standing ovation.
After Nowland spoke, Deacon Abasso encouraged more dinner-goers to continue putting in bids for items to be raffled off, with the proceeds going to support the New Life Center. Deacon Abasso also announced the 11th annual Dinner for Life is set for February 1, 2020.
Sr. Maria Kateri of the New York-based Sisters of Life, a contemplative active community founded in 1991 by New York Cardinal John O’Connor, gave the keynote address on the power of prayer in support of the pro-life cause.
“The Lord of life prepares us and sustains within us a culture of life,” Sr. Kateri said. “Only through a personal encounter of God can we truly be satisfied. He is the only one who knew us, formed us in the womb. Pope Benedict said, ‘Each of us is formed as a thought of God. Each of us has a purpose. And no one is a mistake.’”
Sr. Kateri relayed her own vocation story and how prayer – and silence – played a pivotal role in hearing what God wanted from her.
Wanting a career in medicine, it was through prayer and meditation that she elected to enter the Sisters of Life, where she now gives witness to the pro-life cause and adoption, testifying that she, too, was adopted as an infant.
“I invite you to thank a priest who upholds the dignity of life, because I was adopted, adopted by godparents who chose to love me as an infant,” Sr. Kateri said. “The first couple I served in ministry as a sister chose adoption. In the silence we have with God, we hear the Lord’s voice. He’s calling you to offer your unique love. It is the Lord of life who offers all of us your hope. Hope is the confirmation of life.”
Sr. Kateri closed the night by drawing the raffle winners, but before the drawing, she ended her address with these final words of encouragement:
“Whatever you have suffered in giving witness to the pro-life movement, it is all worth it,” Sr. Kateri said. “God has given us hope. He has already won the victory for life. And He will never forsake us. If all the marches, all the protests, all the care centers but save one life, He will say, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.’ God bless you all. You are in our prayers.”