St. Catharines Right to Life in Ontario celebrated its 25th annual dinner in style on Feb. 25, with almost 400 people attending at the city’s sprawling Club Roma banquet hall.
In addition to dignitaries including the Roman Catholic bishop of St. Catharines, James Wingle, and St. Catharines MP Rick Dykstra, six of the 10 founding board members were present. They met friends old and new and reminisced about almost three decades of life-saving and life-promoting work by the organization.
“We are thankful to God for enabling us to carry on with this work and to the founders for their vision in beginning this group, as well as their continual help, guidance and support to this day,” said executive assistant Marlene Tersigni. “We’re also thankful for an exceptional group of supporters who make it possible for us to promote respect for life from conception to natural death in the St. Catharines area.”
In his annual report, president Wayne Haroutunian noted that St. Catharines Right to Life is as active as ever, sending newsletters to a list of 2,400 people and counting 1,100 supporters and 80 volunteers among its ranks. Its representatives conducted a number of media interviews over the past year and its website, www.chooselife.ca, logged 8,600 page visits. Other projects included billboard campaigns, school speaking engagements, financial support for pro-life television ads and the distribution of 6,000 postcards against the loosening of laws on euthanasia.
A history of St. Catharines Right to Life written by Jane Dulong notes that the organization originated under the patronage of Niagara Right to Life and held its first meeting, with about a dozen persons, in a room at St. Alfred’s Catholic church on May 31, 1977. Representatives of various churches and organizations were present and set in motion a program of monthly meetings that began in June of that year at St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral.
The first annual ecumenical prayer service was held in the chapel of Hotel Dieu Hospital on Oct. 17, 1977, with the first public meeting two days later at Centennial Library. A highlight of the organization’s early days was the visit of late, famed author Malcolm Muggeridge to the Thistle Theatre at Brock University in October 1978. He spoke about “The Slippery Slope,” focusing on the slide from the acceptance of contraception to a state of abortion on demand.
The year 1979 saw St. Catharines Right to Life take part in the annual walk to meet American pro-lifers on the Rainbow Bridge, which spans between the two countries. By this point, the organization had 500 members. Contacts increased with clergy of various denominations, including Lutheran, Mormon, Christian Reformed, First United and Mennonite. Subsequent years saw continued growth to bring St. Catharines Right to Life to where it is today.
Keynote speaker at this year’s dinner was Dr. Philip Ney, a child and family psychiatrist who spoke about the damage caused by abortion and how healing can begin. Ney is president of Mount Joy College in British Columbia and an expert on child abuse, neglect and abortion. He has authored or co-authored more than 65 scientific papers and seven books.
During his address, Ney offered the troubling statistic that some 50 per cent of North American families have been involved in at least one abortion, in one way or another. This fact has created a civilization of people who realize their right to exist depends chiefly on their “being wanted” by someone else, otherwise known as Post-Abortion Survivor Syndrome. This, in turn, leads to a need to stay wanted, by being pleasing and popular, he said.
Symptoms of Post-Abortion Survivor Syndrome include guilt, anxiety, distrust of parents, lack of self-worth, superficial relationships, rage, pessimism, unnecessary risk-taking, fascination with the occult, confused self-identity and vicarious living.
“Something is fundamentally wrong,” said Ney, adding that the most difficult kind of grief is that suffered over abortion. He concluded by urging his audience to put the onus on pro-abortion apologists to prove their flimsy arguments.