Archive for the ‘About Janet’ Category

25 years and counting …

Monday, January 19th, 2015
Here I am at the March for Life in 2005 with Father Frank Pavone and Alveda King.

Here I am at the March for Life in 2005 with Father Frank Pavone and Alveda King.

On a cold day in January 1990, long before the sun was up, I showed up at my parish church, St. Charles on Staten Island, to board a bus headed for Washington, D.C. Our group was led by our young associate pastor, Father Frank Pavone, whose passion for the unborn gave us the energy to make it through that long, grueling day.

When we arrived and saw tens of thousands of people on the National Mall, I was awe-struck. I had no idea so many people were involved in trying to bring an end to abortion. It was an eye-opening experience for me, and as I boarded the bus for home, I knew my life was never going to be the same. I have not missed the March for Life since then.

Four years later, Father Pavone had become national director of Priests for Life and I traveled with him and others as volunteers with the organization. It was the first time many of us met some of the nation’s most prominent pro-life leaders, and we had the sense that we were kids peeking in at the grownups. But that changed quickly.

At my first-ever March for Life Convention, where dozens of pro-life groups set up booths to help explain their work, I felt like I was in Disney World.  Until then it had been on the bus, do the march, get back on the bus. Now I was able to attend all the activities surrounding the March and take in all the great work people were doing on behalf of the unborn. I was humbled, and so grateful to be part of it all.

At that Convention, I was able to meet the great Nellie Grey, who started the March in 1974, one year after Roe v. Wade. I couldn’t believe I was in the same room with her and was feeling a bit star-struck, but when I heard her say she needed a priest to say the opening prayer at the Convention, my Brooklyn chutzpah took over. I told her I was with Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life and he would be happy to do it. Minutes later, he did just that.

That year, 1994, was a year of contrasts for the March. Cardinal John J. O’Connor provided a rousing and passionate keynote address at the Convention, but it was Bill Clinton’s Washington, and I remember being watched over by police snipers stationed on the rooftops along Constitution Avenue.

At another March during the abortion-friendly Clinton years, NOW President Patricia Ireland showed up, coat hanger poster in hand, to push her anti-life agenda. Father Pavone was wearing a press pass given to him by the Catholic Press Association, and he was carrying a small tape recorder, so with his Roman collar, hidden behind layers of clothes, he approached Ms. Ireland and asked for an interview. As they were speaking, some pro-life leaders, including Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman, were trying to drown out her words. I ran over to them to say the man with the tape recorder was on our side, was in fact a priest, and they quieted down. As expected, Ms. Ireland spouted the usual pro-abortion rhetoric about abortion being vital for women’s rights.

The weather plays a role in any March for Life, and in 1994, the weather was something to remember. Father Pavone and I arrived on the last flight in to Reagan National before snow and ice conditions grounded the rest of the flights. As we stepped out of a cab outside the guesthouse where we were to stay, I found myself sprawled on the ice. The taxi driver left the car to try to help me, and his cab slid down the hill and across the road on its own.

Almost every year has been brutally cold, including last year when the temperature was in the single digits when we woke up to snow-covered rooftops and learned that hundreds of buses had to cancel their trips. But one glorious year, it was so balmy that I remember taking my coat off and carrying it down Constitution Avenue.

The March for Life entered a deeper dimension for me in 2003, when we had the women of the brand-new Silent No More Awareness Campaign, which I co-founded, talk about their abortion regret in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building for the first time. Pro-lifers weren’t sure what to think when the first of 60 women started to speak. Some members of a youth group thought we were pro-abortion counter-protesters and started to yell at us. But Bryan Kemper, the founder of Stand True – and now our youth outreach director at Priests for Life – told the agitated youth that the women were on our side.

These testimonies have become an integral part of the March experience, and now many groups schedule their buses to leave later so people can hear the unvarnished truth about abortion from the only people truly qualified to speak – those who have been through it. People thank these courageous women and men for their witness.

One year, two marchers carried bunches of red roses, and gave one to every woman carrying an “I Regret My Abortion” sign. Another year, a woman who had not registered with the Campaign showed up in a wedding gown and asked to speak. We asked about the dress, and she said her abortion had wounded her profoundly, both physically and emotionally, and she never expected to marry. When she came back the next year after completing an abortion-recovery program, she was not in a wedding dress but she was sporting a diamond engagement ring. Giving her testimony with Silent No More had helped in her healing.

I look forward to the March every year because it is tangible proof that this counter-cultural civil rights movement in which I am privileged to play a role continues to grow. But every year, I hope and pray it’s the last time I have to make the trek to the nation’s capital in protest of the worst U.S. Supreme Court decision in my lifetime. Abortion will end when God says it’s time, and until then, it is my job to show up and bear witness to the truth: Abortion kills an unborn child, damages mothers and sends shockwaves of misery throughout our society.

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The most stormy time of the year…

Monday, August 29th, 2011

After all the chaos here on the East Coast from the hurricane, I thought I might as well make some blog material out of it!

I left the Priests for Life office Friday evening; our office was ‘smack dab’ in the middle of the mandatory evacuation zone! I headed home with puppy Georgio, making sure I had plenty of bottled water, flashlights, batteries, etc.  I put all my patio furniture in the garage and prepared to ‘hunker down.’

The rain started around noon on Saturday and didn’t stop for another 24 hours. It poured like a faucet on full strength, and the wind was loud and fierce.  I thought that would be the extent of it,

My poor neighbors!

but at about 3 am, I woke up to a loud crash just in time to see the sky literally light up.  Seconds later, the power was out.  I knew the drama had begun, starting with a nonfunctioning basement pump…!  I made my good faith effort at keeping up with the water as a one-woman bucket brigade, but it was useless, and I finally decided to go back to bed and face the disaster in the morning…

The next morning, I learned that 90% of my town was without power – and my basement had 7 inches of water… And that loud crash from the night before?  It was a giant oak tree – roots 3 yards in diameter – that had fallen *two doors* away from my house and taken all the power lines, a car, and a transformer with it! 

So now I had no power and there was water, water everywhere!  What was I to do?  Well, when the going gets tough, the tough go to Church!

I went over to noon Mass at St. Francis Cathedral in Metuchen.  Even the Cathedral had no power; it was truly like stepping back in time: No electricity, no speakers, just dozens of candles and the souls of the faithful!  It was actually a very beautiful experience.  The priest asked us in our homily to take advantage of this opportunity to slow down with our normal routine and bring our focus back to Christ and to assist our neighbors in need. It’s amazing how God has the power to bring us back to the basics through these forces of nature!  It was a really uplifting message to hear when things looked so bleak! 

As if in answer to my prayers at Mass, three chivalrous gentlemen from Priests for Life (Mark Valonzo, his brother, Val, and Ruben Obregon) came all the way from Staten Island to help me with my pump.  We walked over to the fallen oak tree and couldn’t believe the damage.  I thought I wouldn’t get power back for a week.  But thanks be to God, the next morning we did it back.  I felt like the characters in the Poseidon Adventure (You Baby Boomers know that film reference! You younger readers might have to look it up!)

It was a noisy day today – Walking around the neighborhood, I couldn’t help but think of that beautiful Christmas song, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” – “With generators running and chainsaws buzzing…!”)  Let’s just hope this isn’t an annual occurrence… 🙂

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My first National Review piece!

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Dear friends,

I’m very honored and thrilled to share with you the news that’s made my week: The National Review has published my response to an article in last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine on the ‘selective reduction’ of twins – when a pregnant mother of unborn twins decides to have one of the twins injected with a lethal solution.  I would love to hear your feedback, and thank you all for your encouragement and support as I venture into the world of writing and blogging!  God bless you all!


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Happy Feast of the Assumption, Everyone!

Monday, August 15th, 2011

My homemade cupcake Rosary! Delish!

This is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A very special feast day, since other than Jesus, Mary is the only one in Heaven with both her body and soul! Now most of us like to celebrate occasions like birthdays, anniversaries with a special party or dinner. Why not celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Mother into Heaven with an Assumption BBQ. I did it when my daughters were little girls. We invited their friends over and had hamburgers, hot dogs etc. I even made a cupcake rosary which is pictured here and gave them all Holy cards as a party favor. Celebrating important feast days can be fun and a great way to catechize young people. Let’s hear your experiences too!

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From Revert to Pro-Life Activist, Part 5

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

As my marriage continued its downward spiral, I focused more and more on my three daughters.  The good news is that I became reconnected with my Catholic faith around this time.  It was amazing how the hand of God worked.  You see, I was trying to get a job teaching in the public schools in Staten Island, oh and by the way they weren’t hiring, there were in fact budget cuts.  My mother-in-law, who was a daily communicant and also the person who took my daughters to Mass every Sunday for me, began praying a novena that I would find a job.  I just rolled my eyes, being the doubting Thomasina that I was.  It was two days before Christmas in 1988 that I was hired to teach first grade in P.S. 31 in Staten Island.  It was a miracle!  So my mother-in-law instructed me to go to Church to light a candle of thanksgiving. Well since it was Christmas and I at least went to Mass then, I went and lit my candle.  I then went to Mass the following Sunday not wanting to chance anything  happening to me starting my new teaching position.  By the third week of attending Mass the Hand of God reached out for me again.  We were leaving Church when my daughter Tara Lynn called out to the newly ordained Fr Frank Pavone to come over and meet her Mom.  She said, “Fr F rank, here’s my Mom, you know the one that needs to go to Confession!”  I turned beet red with embarrassment.  Fr Pavone was very cool and calmed down Tara Lynn’s excitement and turned to me and told me I didn’t have to go to Confession. Well, that was a relief. He did give me the rectory phone number and told me to give him a call.  He said we could just talk.  Just talk about the Church?  That seemed  odd to me.  So I stuffed the paper with his number in my pocketbook and there it stayed for a few more weeks.  Then one day I stumbled across it again and decided to give this young priest a call.  He invited me to his Friday night Bible Class and we had an appointment for what I later found out was called Spiritual Direction after that.  I gave him my laundry list of disagreements with the Churches teaching and he wasn’t shocked.  He invited me to continue to come and study and I took him up on the challenge.  It took me three months of discussion and study and finally I was ready for Confession.  After twenty years away from the Church I rediscover and wealth we have with our Faith.  I received Communion that day and it was for me now like my First Holy Communion.  I know this was beginning a relationship with Jesus.

As I continued to rediscover my faith and the teachings of the Church, I learned about God’s beautiful plan for marriage, including Natural Family Planning.

Janet in 2002

At the same time, I became aware of how birth control pills really worked.

I had always thought that birth control pills simply prevented fertilization.  Now I learned that the Pill actually has its own built-in insurance system, employing several different methods of action in case one or more of the methods don’t work.  Besides trying to prevent fertilization, the Pill also thickens the cervical mucus, which then acts as a barrier, preventing the sperm from getting to the egg.  If both of these first two methods fail and ovulation and conception both occur, then the Pill acts to prevent the fertilized egg (the newly conceived human being) from implanting itself onto the side wall of the uterus.   The child is then aborted out of the body.

I didn’t feel the impact of this newfound information until several years later. I was with a friend visiting the EpcotCenterin Disney World, and we decided to visit the Wonder of Life exhibit. As I began to watch a beautiful video showing the wonder of how life began, I realized what taking the birth control pills really meant: the possibility of aborting new life. In the years that I had been taking birth control pills, I had been very sexually active. I also knew that I was an extremely fertile woman. Given these facts, there is no doubt that I had successfully conceived new life many times, but had never given these little babies the chance to grow inside me. For the very first time in my life, I came to grips with the fact that I had not only shut myself off to life, but had also destroyed an unknown number of children.

As I came out of that exhibit, there was a giant rushing water fountain nearby. I walked over to it and began to sob uncontrollably.  I stayed there for quite some time, absorbed in my sudden feelings of grief and remorse.  This was the very first time I became aware of the full impact of what I had done.

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From Revert to Pro-Life Activist, Part 4

Friday, August 12th, 2011

I became engaged after dating my future husband for three months.  From there
things moved quickly towards our wedding day.  At Pre-Cana classes the priest told us
that depending upon the circumstances, birth control pills could be an option for us to
consider. I didn’t realize at the time that this was bad advice in every way: theologically,
spiritually, psychologically, and physically!

As the oldest of four siblings, I had many years of experience dealing with diapers
and babysitting, and felt that delaying the start of a family was a good idea.  I had taken
birth control pills back in high school (although I wasn’t sexually active), as prescribed by
my Catholic OB/GYN for menstrual problems.  At this point in my life, then, both a
priest and a doctor had legitimized the use of contraceptives, and so I continued  my
journey down that slippery slope.

I started taking birth control pills three months before my wedding date.  About
one month before my wedding, my fiancé began to pressure me to have sex with him.  I
had been a virgin up until then!  I gave in to the pressure, and so my marriage got off to a
bad start.  When you begin marriage not knowing each other very well and then
compound things by moving into a very intimate physical relationship, you set the stage
for disaster.  There’s a popular song about marrying your best friend; well, that’s how
well you should know someone before entering into such a serious, lifelong commitment.

I continued taking the pill for two years. Once I was off the pill, I got pregnant
immediately and gave birth to an absolutely beautiful baby girl.  I threw all my attention
into motherhood, and as a result wanted to delay having another baby.  I went back on
birth control pills until my daughter was thirteen months old. I then felt it was important
for her to have a sibling, so I stopped taking the pill. Once again, I became pregnant
almost immediately.  The lesson I was teaching myself was this: No pill equals countless children!

This time I gave birth to beautiful twin girls.  By this time information was
released showing the risk of clots and strokes associated with birth control pills.  With a
history of strokes in my family, I was afraid to go back on the pill.  I didn’t know about
Natural Family Planning.  In fact, the only natural method that I knew of was the old
“rhythm” method, which was considered by most to be unreliable.  Since my marriage
was built on a physical relationship, you can imagine the amount of arguing and fighting
that began.  When the twins were three, I thought I was pregnant again.  It was just a
scare, but it was enough to make me do something really drastic: I had a tubal ligation.  I
felt I had solved all my problems – or so I thought.

I had embraced everything that the feminist movement promoted as being
liberating and empowering for women.  In reality, I had not been liberated; every day I
felt more trapped in a bad marriage.

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From Revert to Pro-Life Activist, Part 3

Thursday, August 11th, 2011


Janet's High School Graduation from St. Agnes Seminary in June 1970

Now you’ll hear how I began down the slippery slope…

I attended an all-girls, small Catholic high school, St. Agnes Seminary in Brooklyn,
staffed by the Sisters of St Joseph.  In my sophomore year (1968), the Church went
through another radical change.  July 25, 1968 was a day that will live in Church infamy!
That was the date that Pope Paul VI issued Humanae Vitae. There was division in the
Church.  You could literally go to a priest on one side of a church and be told that birth
control was a sin, while on the other side of the same church another priest would say it
wasn’t a sin as long as you had a “good reason to use birth control.”  Let’s face it – we
can all try and justify our behavior if we really want to.  The culture, too, was changing.
This was the sexual revolution, “woman’s lib”, and the whole drug culture.  And so I,
too, got caught up in this whole changing world. I began to question my faith.  I thought
women had a right to birth control, and I no longer believed in the infallibility of the
Pope.  All those Baltimore Catechism questions and answers became irrelevant to me.
Then the moment came when I took that first step down the slippery slope.  It was
sophomore year, and the priest came to our school for our monthly Confession.  I
dutifully lined up with my class for Confession.  This time, though, I began to feel
anxious and no longer wanted to go to Confession. I did an about-face and walked back
into class.  Sister said, “Confession, Janet!” and I replied, “Yes, Sister,” and so began my
first step down that slippery slope. I stopped going to confession, which led me to abstain
from Communion, which in turn led to me skipping Mass altogether.  In the end, I only
attended Mass on Christmas and Easter.

Fast forward a little: I graduated from St Francis College in 1974 and married in 1975.  It
was a time when my Catholic faith no longer seemed to matter to me.  My relationship
with God was almost at a zero.  At the same time, all my close friends were getting
married, so marriage seemed like the next step to take – or so I thought.

Stay tuned to see what happened next…

Janet's College Graduation from St. Francis in 1974

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From Revert to Pro-Life Activist, Part 2

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011


My 8th grade graduation from St. Vincent Ferrer in June 1966

Now you’ll find out how my life dramatically changed at St. Vinny’s…

Then came 1965, the end of the Second Vatican Council, and the Church of my childhood was about to undergo some radical changes.  The whole look of “St Vinny’s” began to change: the altar was turned around, the priest faced the congregation, and the Mass was now all in English.  Latin hymns and organ music practically vanished, and in came the guitars, tambourines and folk music!  The tabernacle was dismissed to a side altar, the beautiful marble altar railing was removed, and we no longer knelt to receive communion; in fact, we were encouraged to receive Jesus in our hand now!  Confession could now take place face-to-face with the priest, although this same priest began to discourage weekly Confession anyway – a monthly or even ‘seasonal’ confession was considered fine!  Oh, and let’s not forget that women no longer had to have their head covered upon entering church, not to mention that genuflecting almost became passé. What happened to that feeling that when you entered the church, you were in awe at being in the presence of The Almighty, the One, True God.  Now it was like we were high-fiving Jesus!  Imagine being an adolescent going through this!  The one sure, stable thing that you thought you could count on was radically changing.  This was a time that tried people’s souls!

Did you experience a similar reaction to Vatican II?  I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt this way!

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From Revert To Pro-Life Activist, Part 1

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Hi! Thank you for checking out my blog. I’m Janet Morana, Executive Director of Priests For Life, Co-Founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign and a Co-host of The Catholic View For Women.   As I begin this blog I thought I would give you the opportunity to get to know me better and hopefully you will share your comments and experiences with me as well.

Over the next week or so I will post portions of my conversion story, “From Revert to Pro-life Activist”:

I was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1952 and grew up educated in Catholic schools.  I am the oldest of four children, with fourteen years separating me from my youngest sibling.  This was before the Second Vatican Council, so the Catholic Church and liturgy were very different from what they are today.  The Mass was all in Latin, the altar was turned around, and the priest celebrated Mass with his back to the congregation.  This was called the Tridentine Mass.  Women had to have their heads covered with either a hat or a chapel veil before entering the church.  You genuflected before entering the pews, and the tabernacle was in the center of the church – unlike in some churches today where you have to go on a search and find mission to locate Jesus in the tabernacle!  Our catechesis was from the Baltimore Catechism, which was a question and answer format.

Spiritual direction was something that just didn’t exist for the average layperson.  You memorized all your prayers, and you had your St. Joseph Missal to follow the Mass.  Just about every Saturday afternoon, you would come in from playing to change your clothes and walk over to church for Confession.  Sunday morning you lined up in the school yard for the 9:00 am Children’s Mass. Church was a place of warmth, comfort and stability.  In fact, when meeting new people, you commonly identified yourself by the name of your parish.  Mine was St. Vincent Ferrer, in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, but you would just say, “I’m from St. Vinny’s!”

So let’s hear from those who grew up in Brooklyn!  Anybody from St. Vinny’s Parish?  Let’s hear your stories!

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