by Ed Wilkinson
Msgr. Philip Reilly and the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants have stopped praying outside the Brooklyn Ambulatory Surgery Center in Sunset Park. For the past 22 years, the priest and his devoted group of pray-ers have been seeking an end to abortion at the Brooklyn site. Their prayers have been heard. The new owners of the building have explained that abortion will no longer be offered at the site when it reopens as the New York Center for Specialty Surgery.
To show their good will to the community, the new owners have invited Msgr. Reilly and Father Kevin Sweeney, pastor of nearby St. Michael’s Church, to bless the new facility, which they will do on Saturday, Sept. 29, following the 9 a.m. Mass at St. Michael’s.
“It’s like a miracle!” says Father Sweeney, who has been praying with the Helpers since he was a seminarian. He announced the news to his congregation at a Sunday Mass to thunderous applause. Parishioners from St. Michael’s have been among the steady, dedicated volunteers who have been standing outside the building at Third Ave. and 43rd St., praying and offering alternatives to distressed mothers and fathers.
“This was the oldest and largest abortion clinic in New York City and for many years, in the United States,” said Msgr. Reilly. “I believe more than a quarter of a million unborn children lost their lives there.”
Msgr. Reilly and the Helpers were accompanied by then-newly appointed Bishop Thomas V. Daily in the summer of 1990 when they first prayed at the site. They were met by a vicious band of pro-abortion supporters who tried to drown out their prayers and hymns of praise. For years, the pro-aborts continued to harass the Helpers during their monthly Rosary vigils there. Mostly young, they would blow whistles and hurl obscenities at the Helpers who held their ground as they prayed. The N.Y.C. Police always were on hand to assure safety and maintain peace.
Bishop Daily would tell the Helpers to obey the law and not to respond to the hecklers. After the recitation of the Rosary, the Helpers would process back to St.Michael’s for benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
“The Helpers are present outside of abortion clinics not simply to save babies but to save souls,” reminds Msgr. Reilly. “Indeed the Helpers are present not simply to witness to the truth but to convert people to the truth and change hearts. After so many years of good lay people, religious, priests and bishops praying and fasting outside of the Ambulatory abortion clinic … after so many years of dedicated laypeople offering help by sidewalk counseling to the pregnant women entering the clinic, the Lord has granted a complete victory.”
“I am pleased to confirm that the new center at 313 43rd Ave. in Brooklyn is opening as a multi-specialty surgery center to include outpatient surgical procedures. The center will no longer provide abortion services,” says Julia Ferguson, East Coast director of operations for Medical Forefronts, which will run the new center.
Fittingly, Sept. 29, when the new surgery center will be blessed, is also the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel. The parish will be twice blessed on that day — once in the morning at the blessing ceremony and again later in the afternoon when Auxiliary Bishop Frank Caggiano visits to celebrate the patronal feast day. Truly it will be a day that the Lord will have made and everyone will have a reason to rejoice.