After Catholic Archbishop of New York John O’Connor returned from a tour of the Dachau concentration camp, he penned an article for the archdiocese newspaper mulling how easily humans can lapse into disregard for life, and envisioning a new burst of pro-life activism. In June of 1991, eight women committed themselves to this mission, forming a new religious order called the Sisters of Life. To the three traditional vows of Catholic nuns, the sisters added a fourth: “to protect and enhance the sacredness of human life.”
The Sisters of Life focus on caring for women with troubled pregnancies. At their mission house in Manhattan, they welcome women to live with them, providing a safe place offering sustenance, care, and counseling while they carry their children to term and get their upbringing well-launched. The nascent order relied on donations of funds and supplies—particularly from members of the Sisters of Life Guild, individuals who donate at least $1,000 a year. An outpouring of funding allowed the sisters to provide residential care for mothers and newborns for up to a year after birth.
Subsequently, additional convents where these services could be offered to mothers in distress were opened across New York City, and then outside the city. At a time when other Catholic orders were shrinking dramatically, the Sisters of Life have grown to 80 nuns. In 2007, the archbishop of Toronto invited the sisters to establish their first international mission in Canada. (See 1968 entry for information on the rise of other pro-life religious charities.)
- Reporting at AmericanCatholic.org, americancatholic.org/Messenger/Jan2010/Feature1.asp
- About the Sisters of Life, sistersoflife.org/about-the-sisters-of-life