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South Bend resident relates pro-life activism

| Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Shawn Sullivan, a lawyer, real-estate agent and pro-life activist from the South Bend community, spoke at Saint Mary’s on Tuesday night about with his involvement with the pro-life movement as director of the Apostolate of Divine Mercy in Service of Human Life.

Sullivan presented a half-hour long talk for students and faculty in Stapleton Lounge titled, “The Pro-Life Movement in Saint Mary’s Backyard: the Who, What, Where, Why, When and How.” The event is the first in a series during Saint Mary’s Right To Life week, Saint Mary’s Respect Life Club member junior Jana Zuniga said.

To contextualize the closest abortion clinic’s location, Sullivan began his discussion by drawing a map of where the clinic is located in relation to the Apostolate of Divine Mercy Chapel.

“The epicenter of what’s going on in the pro-life movement is here,” Sullivan said. “This is where the spiritual warfare occurs. This is where Jesus does battle. We have a real presence right here.”

Sullivan is currently the vigil director of 40 Days for Life campaign held during both the spring and fall seasons, he said. Since the campaign began in 2008, it has evolved with the Life Center, he said.

“We eventually got a deal worked out [where] we would just come out and be there, and by the grace of the person who owned it allowing us to be there,” Sullivan said. “We did a spring campaign in 2009, and it allowed us to be more of a focal point when Obama came to Notre Dame in 2009. We got to meet a lot of people and evangelize the movement even more.”

Sullivan said after his 12th campaign he spoke with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades about putting a chapel next to the abortion clinic.

“We [were] having meetings with the bishop, and we put a name to it, the Apostolate of Divine Mercy in Service of Human Life,” Sullivan said. “Everything else just [keeps] brewing, just keeps coming together.”

Students were encouraged to visit the Chapel and consider participating in sidewalk counseling, Sullivan said.

“It’s really fun to come out and see what we’ve got going on,” Sullivan said. “I really invite you to just show up. You can stop by on your own. [It’s] a principal way to spend your time. Our training is really simple. It’s really streamline, trusting God to be your shield.”

Whether counselors talk with mothers for five seconds or 10 minutes, those words matter, Sullivan said.

“So, say you’re talking to somebody for five seconds,” he said. “You could sit down with them and have a conversation. We call that ministry life support. If we get somebody to sit down, then a whole other ministry kicks in. We’ve got to go disintegrate their problems. It hits across the board. They can’t go home to parents. They can’t go home to boyfriends. They’re going to get fired.”

In Sullivan’s time with the Life Center, he has witnessed more than 50 saves, meaning his team’s influence changed many women’s minds about aborting their babies, he said. The Life Center keeps in touch with all of the moms they come in contact with, often sending them necessary items for their child, he said.

“I know we had a great save on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade,” Sullivan said. “The husband didn’t want her to get it, and she didn’t want to get an abortion, but the last two ladies who got pregnant at her job were fired. So, we had to promise her legal help, save the marriage, save everything.”

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