Human Life International Newsletter by Father Peter West
Throughout my journey with the pilgrim icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa across North America in defense of life, I've been to many wonderful places surrounded by amazing people. One place I wasn't planning to end up when we started this historic trip was in prison.
On Monday of this week, on the eve of the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, the From Ocean to Ocean Pilgrimage made a special stop at the Vanier Centre for Women in Milton, Ontario, Canada. The main purpose of the visit was to bring the Black Madonna icon of Our Blessed Mother to Mary Wagner, a young woman who is in jail for her pro-life activism. Mary engages in peaceful and non-violent civil disobedience by offering her gentle and loving support to women at abortion facilities in order to persuade them to choose life. She was arrested in 2012 after she entered the waiting room of an abortion facility in Toronto and offered help to any woman who would choose life for their babies.
The charges against Mary: "Mischief: interference with lawful enjoyment/operation of a business," and the breach of a probation order that prohibits her from being within 200 meters from any abortion facility in Ontario. Since beginning her campaign of civil disobedience, Mary has been arrested six times, and has spent over three years in prison.
I offered Mass at the prison for about 25 inmates, guards, nurses, administrators and visitors, concelebrating with Father Allan Varlaki from nearby Holy Rosary Parish. This was only the second Mass Mary was able to attend since her arrest on August 12, 2012. Everyone seemed to be moved by the pilgrim icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, and they were grateful that the Black Madonna, after visiting so many nations (26 now), would come to them. (This was not the first prison that the pilgrim icon has visited. Our Lady also visited another prison for women in Madrid, Spain.)
Friday, March 28, 2014
In jail for pro-life work - this is Canada!
What struck me most about this story was that this was only the second time that Mary has attended Mass since she was incarcerated. Here, in Canada, this is what you get for daring to go too close to an abortion clinic and to try to convince women not to have their abortions.