The Sisters of Life — religious women dedicated to promoting the inherent dignity and worth of every human person — are offering hope to pregnant women who might feel like abortion is their only option.
“In the heart of every woman is the longing to be heard. To be understood. To be believed in,” Sr. Marie Veritas, SV, told CNA. “To be seen for her unique beauty and goodness… a beauty and goodness that all too often she doesn’t see in herself.”
Now, more than ever, the sisters say they are dedicated to fostering a culture of life.
Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to overturn Roe v. Wade — which legalized abortion nationwide — the sisters responded by promising to “renew our commitment to love.”
“[W]e pledge to those women who find themselves pregnant and in crisis that they do not have to walk alone,” the sisters’ statement read. “We have confidence that this Supreme Court decision will give many more women the courage to reach out to those of good will throughout the nation who stand ready to help a woman in need who is facing real challenges, difficulties and fears.”
And when these women do reach out, the sisters promise to be there for them.
The late Cardinal John O’Connor founded the Sisters of Life in New York in 1991. While they are based in the New York-area, they are also located in Denver, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Washington, D.C., and Ontario, Canada. The community of Catholic religious women profess four vows: poverty, chastity, and obedience, and “to protect and enhance the sacredness of human life.”
Among other things, the sisters dedicate their lives to serving women vulnerable to abortion, offering life-affirming support to pregnant women in need, hosting retreats, evangelizing, practicing outreach to college students, and helping women who suffer after abortion.
Sr. Marie Veritas listed eight messages of hope that the sisters want to tell any pregnant woman who might be struggling and considering abortion. This woman should know, she began, that, “Your dreams are not out of reach.”
“There are real options that will get you back on your feet again, never regretting what might have been,” Sr. Marie Veritas urged. “You don’t need to feel pressured to have an abortion.”
She also stressed that “Circumstances can change.”
“It may seem like this pregnancy could not have come at a worse time,” she said. “Perhaps, you know your family will be disappointed and you expect that they will not support you. You are terrified that your dreams and plans for the future will never be realized. The struggles of your current situation are real, but hope holds the promise of a new beginning.”
Before making a decision, she encouraged women to “Give yourself space.”
“Impulsive decisions may lead to regret,” she cautioned. “We make the best choices when our hearts are calm. Allow yourself time to research all the facts and think clearly through the options. There is time to make a plan that will bring you to a place of freedom and to a decision you won’t regret.”
At the same time, she said, women should remember that they have support: “Secret decisions lead to heartache,” she said, adding, “You are not alone.”
“Women facing an unexpected pregnancy may be embarrassed and ashamed,” she said. “The first inclination is to hide their ‘mistake,’ or to ‘take care of the problem,’ before anyone knows. This often leads to regret.”
She encouraged women to reach out for help.
“You are not alone in this journey,” Sr. Marie Veritas said. “Take time and allow us to connect you with those who have been in similar situations and who are willing to share their perspective.”
Speaking for the sisters, she wanted women to know, “We believe in you.”
“You have plans for your life, and bringing a child into the world may not be part of those plans right now,” she said. “However, the mystery of new life within you can be empowering and a great source of motivation to finish school, have a career, and become the woman you were meant to be.”
While a pregnant woman might hear conflicting opinions, the sisters suggested, “Listen to your heart.”
“Everyone around you may have formed an opinion of what you should do,” the Sr. Marie Veritas said. “Cast aside the negative voices drowning out the truth of your goodness, your dignity as a woman, and your tremendous capacity to love. Let us help you discover what will bring the greatest joy to your heart.”
In other words, the sisters say, women should “See beyond your fears to the possibilities.”
“Fear is a very strong emotion,” Sr. Marie Veritas said. “At times, we can be deceived into living out of irrational or unfounded fears. This can be paralyzing and prevent us from taking positive steps toward a solution. It may also cloud our judgment and lead us astray. Important or life-changing decisions are best made in peace and freedom.”
She concluded by saying, “Let’s talk and find a solution you can live with.”
“Our broad expanse of resources includes housing, employment, medical assistance, legal advice, and emotional and spiritual accompaniment,” she said. “We are here to listen, to answer questions, to explore your options, and to walk with you in finding real possibilities during a difficult time. You deserve a safe space to share your experience and your concerns.”
Women find out more about the Sisters of Life online and contact them for help. For pregnancy help, women can call 1-877-777-1277 or text 212-203-8716.
How can Catholics and pro-life Americans support the sisters?
To carry out their pro-life ministery, the sisters “rely totally on Divine Providence for the spiritual and temporal support of our lives and missions,” Sr. Marie Veritas said.
At the same time, she said, the sisters feel blessed to be upheld by so many generous men and women worldwide. She invited both men and women to discern the possibility of volunteering as Co-Workers of Life.
These co-workers, she said, work directly with the women the sisters serve. They are invited to dedicate their time and talents to help the sisters in a variety of ways — from befriending women facing difficult pregnancies to serving as prayer guardians or even donating their professional abilities as lawyers, health care workers, or counselors.
Sr. Marie Veritas also encouraged people to watch a formation program the sisters offer, called “INTO LIFE: Love Changes Everything.” The sisters released the video series in collaboration with the McGrath Institute for Church Life and CampCampo films on how to accompany a pregnant woman into life.
The sisters, Sr. Marie Veritas said, also welcome donations.
“We also have a need for new/lightly used maternity clothes, mostly sizes medium through extra-large,” she added.
Most importantly, Sr. Marie Veritas asked for prayers.
“We would love to invite everyone to join us in praying, fasting, and witnessing for life,” she said, by “praying that every person knows that he/she is made in the image and likeness of God, a unique reflection of His glory; that the life of those who are most vulnerable to abortion be protected and upheld; that women be cherished in their motherhood; that those who have experienced abortion in their lives come to know the tender mercy and healing of Jesus Christ, whose love is greater than any sin and darkness; that love casts out the fear that leads to death.”