The pro-life retreat which took place from the 24th of June to the 8th of July was truly inspirational to not only myself but to the group of 30 young Australian Catholics who attended. When I first heard the idea of going to New York City for a pro-life retreat, I never thought that it would actually come to fruition. My father, Paul Hanrahan, executive director of Family Life International, was determined to make it happen. He saw that there was a great need for the younger generation of pro-lifers in Australia to be able to experience first-hand the wonderfully inspiring Monsignor Reilly, founder of the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants and he and the team at FLI put everything in place to make the retreat happen for us.
We arrived in New York City late Friday night to be greeted by a group of Helpers. Even this simple meeting at an airport gave me the feeling that we are part of one big family no matter where we are around the world. We were driven to the Monastery of the Sister Adorers of the Precious Blood, which is situated in Brooklyn. It was here where we were to spend the next twelve days of our lives and it was here where I felt my life change in a massive way. The next morning we went to Mass at St Michael’s and from there about 60 of us processed down to the abortion mill where Monsignor Reilly counsels and prays. We were met with the loud music of a group protesting our presence. Anyone could see the contrasts between the two groups. We were there peacefully praying, while they were playing loud music and chanting various slogans. Even people who were going in to the abortion mill could see how different we were and by the grace of God many couples changed their minds and turned around.
The main purpose of this retreat was to hear the many experiences that Monsignor Reilly had to share about the pro-life movement all around the world. There were four days of retreat from the 28th of June till the 1st of July during which Monsignor and some guest speakers gave talks. It was during this period that I learnt so much more about the pro-life movement; I am sure that everyone who was on the retreat would echo this. The four days of the retreat were very intensive; the day started at 7.30 with Mass and usually ended about 9 in the evening with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Throughout the day, Monsignor gave his inspiring talks. These four days of my life will forever stick with me as I was listening to a man whom I believe is a ‘living saint’. They were truly inspiring days that I will never forget.
Another aspect of the retreat that I found fantastic was the fact that everyone who was on the retreat got along so well. We all bonded in a way that was truly amazing and I think it was because we all see the injustice that is being done to not just the unborn through abortion but also to the elderly through euthanasia, as well as other aspects that are associated with the culture of death. We were all there to learn how to better bring about a culture of life which society today so sorely needs. Through this retreat I have gained lifelong friendships that I will forever cherish.
I would like to thank everyone who helped make this trip to New York possible. It was a truly amazing and inspiring time in the lives of all of us who were blessed to be able to meet such a wonderful man. I would especially like to thank the team at Family Life International. They have helped ensure that the pro-life movement will continue in Australia in the years to come and for this may God reward them and shower them with blessings.