PROVIDENCE — The truth, goodness and beauty of a shared Catholic faith was celebrated through the witness of inspired speakers, talent of artists and the fellowship among the many in attendance at Saturday’s pro-life event at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, Providence.
In partnership with the Portsmouth Institute for Faith and Culture, Servants of Christ for Life hosted their annual “Truth, Goodness and Beauty” event for the faithful from throughout the Diocese of Providence featuring the well-known pro-life speaker Abby Johnson. Johnson, an outspoken advocate for the pro-life movement and former clinic director of Planned Parenthood, visited with attendees and shared a story of courage and conversion.
In 2009, Johnson was asked to assist with an ultrasound-guided abortion. She recounted how she watched in horror as a 13-week-old baby frantically fought for its life at the hand of the abortionist. At that moment, she fully realized what abortion actually was and what she had dedicated eight years of her life to. She soon sought help from a local pro-life group and swore that she would begin to advocate for life in the womb.
“In that moment, it was like I could hear the voice of God and he told me, there’s nothing you can do to make up for what you’ve done, but because of my scandalous and radical mercy you don’t have to. And as I sat there, it was almost like I could feel my heart of stone turning into a heart of flesh,” Johnson said.
In speaking to those in attendance, she shared that her own life is a testament to the power of conversion.
“No one is above the power of conversion because no one is beyond the power of Christ. And that’s what this movement has to be about. It can’t just be about saving a baby. We have to go further than that. It has to be about healing our culture. My long-term goal is not simply to make abortion illegal, but to make it unthinkable so that women when contemplating a crisis pregnancy will never even darken the door of a place that would take the life of her child and exploit her in the process.”
Johnson encouraged everyone to be leaders of the pro-life movement in their own lives, in their communities, families and circle of friends.
“I’m done with the silence and done with the apathy in the Church. It’s time for us to lead. It’s time for us to commit and time to turn our apathy into action. I think apathy is what has gotten us here today,” she said.
Today, Johnson, who lives in Texas with her husband and children, travels across the globe sharing her story, educating the public on pro-life issues, advocating for the unborn and reaching out to abortion clinic staff who still work in the industry. She is the founder of And Then There Were None, a ministry designed to assist abortion clinic workers in transitioning out of the industry. To date, the ministry has helped more than 430 workers leave the abortion industry.
For Christina Frye of Catholic Mom Rhode Island, Johnson’s talk renewed her own personal duty to be a voice for the unborn and their parents.
“As a mother of a toddler and awaiting our newborn in March, I was brought to tears when Abby described how the 13 week-old baby was ‘frantic’ and fighting for his life during the abortion procedure that changed her life,” she said. “It made me think and pray for each of the 1.5 billion babies that have been aborted worldwide. Abby also opened my eyes to what really goes on inside abortion clinics, like Planned Parenthood. It was such a pleasure spending the day with like-minded Catholics who understand that our faith is not something to be taken lightly, but something to be celebrated and shared with others.”
In addition to Johnson’s talk, the day included presentations by Sister Amata Filia entitled “The Walk of Life,” as well as Kate Capato, an artist who specializes in sacred art.
Visiting from the Philadelphia area, Capato said that it was a joy to witness those inspired by the event, adding that it’s those moments that give her strength to keep doing what she feels the Lord leads her to do.
Capato shared what first inspired her to join her love of the Catholic faith with her artistic talents
“I honestly did not know how to combine the two, but I yearned for it deeply praying hard to have this opportunity,” she explained. “I was never a person to simply want to do art for art’s sake. My personality is one that seeks to always make a difference in this world with what I do. Step by step he has led me to experiences that have enabled me to combine the two more and more passions each year. So in a sense, the desire has always been there with the given talents, my personality, and particular opportunities to serve that were given to me.”
Capato had the opportunity to spend time in front of master works in Florence, Italy, where she studied for two years. She encouraged that people invest in good authentic beauty in their lives.
“Authentic, as in it aligns with the truths of our faith. Surround yourself with it as much as you can. Bring it into your homes, into your churches, into your families and communities. It is a powerful window into truth that we must choose to prioritize,” she said.
“Because true beauty is a reflection of God, when it aligns with the fullness of truth and the higher quality it is, we are more profoundly affected by its presences in our lives. God’s creation is everywhere and he is the best artist offering to us wonders to behold, daily. Simply take time to go outside and be still there. The most beautiful thing we can spend time in is adoration, beholding God himself.”
Tyler Rowley, of Servants of Christ for Life, said one of the main reasons they host this event is to remind people of what it means to be both Catholic and pro-life.
“Abortion will become illegal when more people become pro-life and more people will become pro-life when they understand both the horrors of abortion and the truth, goodness and beauty of Catholicism,” he said.
Rowley added that never before has he had so many people say how moved they were by the speakers. Elaine Layton, a parishioner of St. Brendan Church, felt that Capato’s talk was motivating.
“I’ll never look at art the same way again. She made it come to life.”
Dozens of Catholic artists also showcased and sold their artwork in the cathedral hall including Jan Gendron, a painter from St. Brendan Church in East Providence. Gendron shared that it’s important that people are surrounded by religious art.
“We need to see the saints around us — it’s true what they say, out of sight, out of mind. Painting is my form of prayer,” he said. “My faith and art are very closely connected.”