Anna Desilets, executive director of Alliance for Life, received the Papal medal “Benemerenti” in December 1985. In accepting the medal, Mrs. Desilets said she did so not only for herself but for all who work to promote respect for life, saying that “God Himself knows the sacrifices pro-life people have made and the work they have done for His people.”
The Papal honour, presented by Archbishop Adam Exner, is awarded to a well-deserving person for exceptional accomplishment and for long and dedicated service to Christian ideals.
In accepting the medal, Mrs. Desilets thanked God for having led her into the right-to-life movement, whose work concerns the most vital human-rights issues of our time. “In working for the right of persons to live, we are also working for peace,” she said. “As Mother Teresa points out if a mother can kill her closest living relative, her unborn child, what restraint is there to prevent us from killing each other?”
She also pointed to Pope John Paul II’s directive in Pacem in Terris, “if you want peace, you must defend life.”
Anna and her husband, Ron, will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary this year. They have six children. She says that her work in the pro-life movement would not have been possible without the support and encouragement of her husband, who gladly shared childrearing duties, and to the support of her children, who selflessly shared Mom for the defence of the unborn.
Anna has been active in the pro-life movement since 1971. She has served both on the board of directors and as president for the League for Life of Manitoba. She has been editor of Pro-Life News Canada, and since 1982, she has been the executive director for Alliance for Life, the co-ordinating body for the education pro-life movement in Canada.
She is optimistic on the influence of the pro-life movement. Today, she says, the movement is at least recognized as having an opinion that should be heard and people recognize that pro-life is here to stay and will simply to wilt away under pressure. In 1980, she points out, there were 89 pro-life groups in Canada, today there are 255.
When asked how she manages her many responsibilities, Anna quotes Philippians 4:12-14:
…I know what it is to be in need and what it is to have more than enough. I have learned this secret so that anywhere at any time, I am content whether I am full or hungry, whether I have too much or too little. I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me…