Hope and HealingBy: Michelle Krystofik
While I have been involved in post abortion healing work since 1996, it is unusual for me as Respect Life Associate Director to have face to face contact with someone who is in a crisis pregnancy and contemplating abortion. This past Friday I arrived at the parish rectory to pickup the mail for the Respect Life Office which is housed in a separate building on the parish grounds.
I was quite taken aback when the doorbell rang and a young couple, speaking no English, only Spanish, showed a flyer to the secretary with my office circled. I speak no Spanish but was able to ask our new pastoral associate, Fr. Zbignew, who I was told spoke some Spanish, to assist in translation. I sat down with the couple and began to ask them how we could help them. Father translated that they came because they were told we would take them to a hospital to get an abortion! I was quite surprised and asked more in sign language than in words, if she was pregnant – when (we’ll call her Mary) Mary indicated yes – I asked – no abortion? Father translated and her husband indicated yes they wanted an abortion.
For me, this was a first. I have seen the faces of many men and women devastated by abortion, have held their hands, hugged them and cried with them. But never before had I looked into the eyes of a woman struggling with the decision on whether to take her child’s life. I felt so inadequate, not only because I couldn’t communicate the way I wanted to, but because I didn’t know – what was the right thing to say??
Father was speaking to her about the life of her baby – but I felt moved to speak to her about her life and the affects that this decision to abort would have on her life, her husband, other children ….How could I convey all the pain and suffering I know she would face if she went ahead with this decision? I prayed to the Holy Spirit and spoke from my heart, the only words I could speak … “your life will forever be changed, you won’t be the same wife, the same mother to your children, and you will never be the same.”
Immediately she broke down and cried, up to this point, her husband had been doing most of the talking – she said nothing. But when I asked her if she was willing to speak to someone who could help her to keep the baby, she answered before he could speak,
“Si, Si!” I also told them that the timing of their visit, and coming to the rectory was an act of God. He led them here, where we provide hope and healing not abortions. This was definitely a “God” moment – as my goose bumps will attest!
I eventually was able to connect her with a crisis pregnancy center where someone spoke Spanish. Mary and her husband promised me that they would do nothing until they went to the center to hear about getting help. When they left the rectory I asked Mary if I could give her a hug, she literally fell into my arms and sobbed.
I may never know if they changed their minds, but this encounter certainly changed me. When I refer women to pregnancy resource centers for help, I will always think of this frightened and vulnerable mother.
As I looked into the eyes of a woman agonizing over accepting her child….Perhaps all the years of post abortion healing ministry have prepared me for this moment. It truly is about the baby AND the parents.
Michelle Krystofik is the Associate Director of the Respect Life Office of the Archdiocese of Newark and Rachel’s Vineyard Site Leader and New Retreat Site Coordinator.