As Ronald Reagan was rolled into surgery after being shot, he joked to the team of surgeons, “I just hope you’re Republicans;” to which one doctor replied, “Today, Mr. President, we’re all Republicans.” That’s how Americans respond when a life is in danger: we unite. That year, comedian Eddie Murphy also added levity to a horrible moment, saying, “They shot the Pope. What’s your intention in shooting the Pope unless you’re saying, ‘I want to get to hell and I don’t want to stand in line’!”
Sinners and saints alike know there’s a line you don’t cross. That’s why St. John Paul II met with his would-be assassin to forgive him. Every good Samaritan knows the call to rescue a life in danger of death, but, as Catholics, we are called to offer sacrifices, even our lives, to save souls in danger of the fires of hell. In this issue, you’ll read about Dominican Friars who are willing to do just that, and the new novices following in their steps.
I had the honor of participating in the presidential swearing-in ceremony of Dr. Joan Breton Connelly (see photo), appointed to the State Department’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee. Joan teaches classics at NYU and is encouraged by the friars serving on college campuses.
Another friend of the Friars, a parishioner, spoke with me about the experience of serving on a medical team in Haiti with Sister Deirdre Byrne. Dede joined the army as a med student at Georgetown to help pay her tuition and ended up devoting 29 years to the military as a surgeon in places like Afghanistan and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. She entered religious life in 2002, working with the poor and sick in Haiti, Sudan, Kenya, Iraq, and undocumented people in Washington, DC.
According to Sister Dede, “Those refugees all share a common experience. They have all been marginalized, viewed as insignificant, powerless and voiceless. While we tend to think of the marginalized as living beyond our borders, the truth is the largest marginalized group in the world can be found here in the United States. They are the unborn.”
Sister knows her message may be difficult for some; she persists because she is not just pro-life, she is pro-eternal life. “I want all of us to end up in heaven together someday.” This is our mission, too, as Friars Preachers: preaching for the salvation of souls.
Thank you for joining our ranks of joyful warriors who protect our fellow citizens at all stages of life. May we end up on the express line to heaven and praise God forever!
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Gabriel Gillen, O.P.
Dominican Friars Foundation