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Family With History of Fighting to Save Lives Hopes to Inspire Others

The family that serves together stays together. Here are the Yellicos after an FDNY ceremony. From left to right, that’s Evan, Jacob, dad Matthew, Madonna, mom Francesca, Lola, Madalina, and Brandan. (Photo: Courtesy of Francesca Yellico)

‘It’s never a mistake to bring a child into this world’

COLLEGE POINT — Francesca Delta was 18 years old and scared to death. She learned she was pregnant and didn’t know what to do. She loved her boyfriend Matthew Yellico — the baby’s father — but she wasn’t sure she could raise a child at such a young age.

Francesca had grown up in a strict Catholic family in Bay Shore, Long Island. Still, she considered having an abortion because she thought it was her only choice. After a heart-to-heart talk with Matthew, she decided not to end her pregnancy. Her 24-year-old boyfriend assured her that he loved her and that they were ready to be parents. “He told me, ‘This baby is a part of you and it’s a part of me,’” she recalled.

So the young couple married and had the baby, a girl they named Lola. 

That was 35 years ago.

Today, at a time when the Supreme Court could be on the verge of overturning Roe v. Wade, and pro-abortion demonstrators are protesting outside of justices’ homes, Matthew and Francesca Yellico say they hope to serve as an example to others that choosing life can lead to wonderful things.

Lola grew up to become a lawyer. The Yellicos had five more children after Lola — Madalina, 33, a psychologist; Jacob, 32, an architect; Madonna, 30, an FDNY EMT; Brandan, 27, an FDNY firefighter; and Evan, 23, an FDNY EMT.

“Our lives have been blessed so many times over,” said Matthew, who was ordained a permanent deacon in the Diocese of Rockville Centre in 2021 and serves at the family’s church, St. Joseph’s, in Ronkonkoma.

It’s no coincidence that three of the Yellico children joined the FDNY; they were following in their father’s footsteps. Matthew served as an FDNY firefighter for 26 years before he retired. Brandan has his dad’s badge number and is assigned to the same unit, Ladder Company 107 in East New York, where Matthew worked for many years. 

As Matthew and Francesca look with pride at the accomplishments of Lola and her siblings, one thought keeps popping up: What if?

“I’m so grateful I didn’t have the abortion,” Francesca said. “Lola has three little girls, ages 4, 3, and 2. If I would have had the abortion, these four lives would not be here.”

Over the years, Francesca and Matthew have become strong pro-life advocates and have taken part in the March for Life in Washington D.C. several times. 

Francesca has devoted her professional life to the cause. She is the executive director of The Bridge to Life, a pro-life center in College Point, Queens that helps mothers and children.

“When I was pregnant at a young age, I felt an overwhelming amount of fear and confusion. But thankfully, my boyfriend, now my husband, was the one person who gave me the strength to go forward. I want to do that for other people,” she said.

The couple’s pro-life view is shared by their children. “I remember going to pro-life rallies and the March for Life when I was a child,” said Lola. When she was a teenager, she found out about her mother’s decision to have her. “I was cleaning a closet one day and came across a newspaper article. Someone had interviewed my parents. I asked my mom about it. She got really emotional telling me.”

Lola was surprised at her parents’ story but feels grateful to them every day for giving her life. She hopes their story can inspire others. “It’s never a mistake to bring a child into this world. Yes, it’s a struggle. But look at all of the good that comes out of it,” she said.

The Yellicos’ pro-life beliefs also extend to other areas of family life, according to Madonna, who has served as an instructor at the Fire Academy in addition to being an EMT.  She recalled that her parents urged her and her siblings to serve others.

“I think it was really just the mindset we grew up with. I was raised my whole life with the idea ‘What can you do for others?’ When you’re raised with that kind of mindset, it carries over,” she explained.

Evan, the youngest, said his parents set an important example for him and his siblings. The Yellicos home-schooled their children. Evan recalled that his dad had retired from the FDNY by the time he entered high school and took on a lot of the responsibility of teaching him. 

“I got to spend a lot of time with my dad. I’ve wanted to join the fire department since I was 3 years old, but being around him so much made me really go for it,” said Evan, who works out of EMT Station 49 in Astoria.

Like his siblings, Evan thinks about the courageous decision his parents made 35 years ago.

“Because of my parents, I’ve always had the mindset that babies are the most wonderful thing in the world,” he said. “And although it might be scary, the benefit of having them and the change that your life will have by having children is unfathomable.”

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