Founders of prolife organization Life Nation were present in Rome for Italy’s March for Life, and spoke of their decision to return to their native Romania to fill the gap where a prolife presence was lacking. “Romania has some of the highest abortion rates not just in Europe but in the world, and the prolife movement is virtually inexistent” Dan Calinescu told CNA May 3, however his wife, Julia, explained that although small, “you see little flickers” of the movement “here and there and they’re growing.” Originally hailing from Romania, the couple recounted how as children their parents had moved to Toronto, Canada during the years of the communist regime and that they grew up there, but that five years ago they “felt a call to go back to Romania and get involved in re-building a culture of life.” Present in Rome for an international gathering of prolife leaders May 3 as well as the international March for Life the following day, Dan and Julia spoke of how they helped to begin the March for Life in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, which just celebrated its third anniversary. “It was actually our biggest year. We had over 2,500 participants and again the key really was, we need a lot of awareness so we tried to bring about abortion awareness and alternatives. And the March has really helped us to do that,” Julia observed. Going on, Dan noted that one of the most significant things about the march in Cluj-Napoca is that they were able to reach out “to leaders from the orthodox Church, from evangelical circles and from the Catholic circles.” “They all showed up,” he stated, “and it showed that if the Church is united then the Holy Spirit really works miracles.” In addition to launching initiatives such as sidewalk counseling, “which is something pretty trivial, pretty basic in North America” but has been “inexistent” in Romania, Dan explained that another thing Life Nation does is “aside from abortion alternatives and awareness, Julia and I actually talk to teens in high schools about the virtue of chastity.” “We introduce the Theology of the Body to whoever is ready to listen, including seminarians, adults, parish youth groups, etc.” “So we try to take a two-step approach” he continued, “We help mothers in need and raise awareness, but we also talk to future parents, you know, teenagers at that critical age when they’re in high school.” Reflecting on the significance of being present in Rome with so many prolife leaders from around the world, Julia stated that it’s important “for leaders to be able to get together, because as a leader sometimes you still need a mentor, you’re never a master of the trade.” “So it was really great for us to be inspired by people that have much more experience than we do.” Echoing her sentiments, her husband explained that “It’s amazing” and that sometimes because “the prolife movement is so young, you feel alone and like you just fighting on your own.” “But just being here I actually call them all warriors, I believe they’re all warriors, so I think first of all that we get strength from this and the other thing we do get is experience.” “We’ve been really blessed growing up in Canada, and we were exposed to the prolife activism,” Julia noted, “and now we get to import it” with the programs that are developing. “All these things we just want to see it bloom in Romania, we believe that it can transform the society just as it does oversees. And it’s great to see in all of Europe things are moving.” Speaking of their hopes for the future of the prolife movement in Romania, Dan described how “because the whole movement is so new, I think we have an advantage, because if we are proactive now we can win the battle up front.”      “So we’re hopeful, we’re very hopeful about the future.”

Kerri Lenartowick contributed to this piece.