“Where the rubber hits the road.” These are the words used by Christendom College alumna Mary Brand (’98) to describe her local crisis pregnancy center, and others like it. Brand has been involved in the pro-lifemovement in various capacities since high school, and now she sits on the board of the Front Royal Pregnancy Center in Virginia and coordinates the center’s annual Walk for Life fundraiser, according to Christendom College’s news page.
Brand describes the center’s ministry as “Christ-centered, offering love, hope, and compassion by sharing the Gospel in word and deed to those he sends us,” according to Christendom. This involves offering free pregnancy tests, counseling, education, referrals, and supplies such as diapers and formula to abortion-vulnerable women. In Brand’s opinion, these centers are “the real future of the pro-life movement.”
How does someone like Brand find herself on the front lines of such a ministry? Her college experience was not without its influence. “Christendom gave me a real sense of mission …There was a passionately pro-life culture at Christendom, which fostered my desire to work and pray to end abortion in our country,” she said. Brand was volunteering at the Front Royal Pregnancy Center even during her college days, and Christendom students and alumni continue to do so now.
However, this kind of hands-on ministry is not the only aspect of the pro-life movement strengthened at Christendom. In correspondence with The Cardinal Newman Society, Brand also described being part of a pro-life prayer group and taking advantage of the college’s nearness to Washington D.C. to gain exposure to the political side of the movement.
“My friend, Bernadette, now a cloistered Carmelite in Brooklyn, NY, was the leader … of the group called ‘Shield of Roses.’ There was a large group of us who would go down to D.C. and pray in front of an abortion clinic, which I believe later closed after Bernadette entered the cloister,” Brand said. The group still does this every Saturday.
She also describes attending conferences in D.C., like the Wanderer Forum. “We had great opportunities to rub shoulders with politicians and hear them talk … It was a great experience to get involved in the pro-life movement from a political standpoint.”
After college, circumstances prevented Brand from being directly involved in pro-life movement during certain seasons of her life — she taught for 10 years and spent most of the last six years taking care of her four small children. Nonetheless, she found many ways to stay involved, from teaching NFP classes, to a stint in local politics, to cooking meals for new moms. She took the position on the board of the Front Royal Pregnancy Center six months ago, and was happy to step up when it came time to coordinate the Walk for Life.
Other Christendom alumni were heavily involved in establishing the center. According to Christendom’s website, seven alumni were founding members of the center’s board, and played an instrumental role in its early development.
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