WASHINGTON (January 21, 1998) -- Cardinal Bernard Law, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities, presented papal blessings to two persons who have made significant contributions to the pro-Life movement.
Those receiving the Apostolic Blessing of Pope John Paul II at a ceremony January 21 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception were Father Edward Bryce, pastor of St. Bede Church in Pittsburgh and former Executive Director of the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB), and Nellie Gray, leader of the annual March for Life. A third recipient of the Apostolic Blessing, Sally Reynolds of the Archdiocese of Detroit, was not present for the ceremony.
Father Bryce, who headed the Pro-Life Secretariat from 1978 to 1988, conducted the first National Prayer Vigil for Life in 1982. The National Prayer Vigil for Life is conducted annually on the eve of the March for Life.
"Because of Father Bryce's support, guidance and dedication, the National Prayer Vigil for Life is a reality," Cardinal Law said.
Nellie Gray is the founder of the March for Life, which is conducted each year on the anniversary of the Supreme Court's January 22, 1973 decision legalizing abortion on demand.
"For twenty-five years, Nellie has called pro-Life Americans to stand up and be counted," Cardinal Law declared. " Every year they responded-even in blizzards. In each March for Life, and at every opportunity throughout the years, Nellie has brought the pro-Life message to the media, to politicians, and even to Presidents."
Sally Reynolds is head of Mothers of Mary, which promotes devotion to Mary through the Rosary. She is credited with being the inspiration for the Vigil.
In a letter to Sally Reynolds, Cardinal Law wrote: "It was your vision of a need to 'light a candle for Life,' coupled with prayer, that has inspired what has become the National Prayer Vigil for Life. From a crowd that numbered little more than a hundred gathered in the Crypt church years ago, the Great Upper Church is filled to overflowing, as people come from all parts of the nation to pray together for Life."