My brothers and sisters in Christ I am Fr. Stephen Imbarrato at Priests For Life. A priest of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. Ordained in 2005.
I was very blessed at January of that year, months before I was ordained that I was able to give my testimony about my complicity in an abortion, decades before. I gave this testimony at the foot of the Supreme Court, as the first male witness of The Silent No More Awareness program. And here is my story.
It was a few years after Roe V. Wade legalized abortion in this country. I was away from the Church, away from the Sacraments. I was living with a girl and I got her pregnant. It wasn't like many men who I've counseled before then, who say, when their girlfriend tells them they're pregnant, "How did that happen" as if they weren't there when it happened. " No, I was fully aware of what happened.
And I told my girlfriend at the time that I would support her in whatever decision that she made. But then, unfortunately I went and talked to her about a few reasons why this would be a bad time to have a child, after all we weren't married, we were living together, we had expenses.
Her being intuitive, about what my thoughts were, she must've said to herself, "Well if you wanted me to have the baby surely you would've said, I love you and I want you to have our baby. But he didn't say that, so he must want me to have the abortion." And so she went and had the abortion.
It wasn't but a few months afterwards, I noticed a change in her behavior. And indeed I was feeling very guilty inside of myself. And we sat down and talked one night. I asked her what was wrong and she, "I can't believe that, uh, I had that abortion . And I said, "I feel the same way."
I had priests friends of my family, and I went to confession, and then subsequently brought her to confession. We actually went a couple of times to get some counselling to immerse ourselves in Christ's mercy after this happened. But it wasn't too long before we went right back to the same type of lifestyle.
Years went by and we parted ways.
Several years later, I had an adult conversion. I came to know our Lord again and became active in the Church. A few years after that in 1987 I adopted a little boy from Columbia and I was single at the time. His name was John. He was almost 9 years old.
Raising John as a single parent lead me into doing Pro Life work, Pro Life ministry . And it was my Pro Life ministry and Pro Life work that lead me to the priesthood. John was then married. He started having a family. He was no longer dependent upon me.
I entered into the seminary in the year 2000. I was doing a lot of Pro Life work at the time, spending a lot of time in front of abortion mills, counseling men and women, going in trying to save babies, help mom's in crisis pregnancies.
One day I was out in front of the abortion mill talking to a young man whose girlfriend was inside having an abortion. And I told this young man as I told many, many other young men out in front of the abortion mill that, "She was having the abortion for you. That unless you go in there and tell her that "you love her and you'll stand by her and the baby, through thick and thin, through trials and tribulations, you have to assume that she's having the abortion because she thinks that you want her to have the abortion."
And he said that, "No, I told her that I would support her in whatever decision she made. And immediately when I heard that, I realized that "that's" what I had done with my girlfriend decades before.
As a matter of fact, in the words of Nathaniel to David I heard those words, "You are that man."
I was at the seminary at that time like I said and I went to my spiritual director. I had mutual friends with my girlfriend decades ago. And prudently I was able to get in touch with her. And indeed she agreed to a lunch meeting, a cordial, friendly. We had mutual friends, mutual family members, as a matter of fact they kept in touch with each other.
And I told her that day, that the unresolved issue, that I'd like to talk to her about was indeed the abortion. She immediately started crying. And as I told her that I apologized, and that I should have stood by her, and our baby, and that I knew she had the abortion because of me and she did it for me, and how sorry that I was .
I know, I could see it in her face and the tears streaming down from her eyes that this is what she had waited for and needed to hear for decades, for many, many years .
And I told her, that at least I take solace in the fact that we have a baby in heaven, and that I've been praying to our baby . I named the baby, Mary. I've been praying, through the baby's intercession for years .
And it was at that point she said, "I kept a secret from you, for all these years, that we have 2 babies in heaven."
Immediately I said, "You had 2 abortions?"
And she said, "No, I never told you that it was twins."
At that point, I realized that we had another baby to name. And we did, we named that baby, "Thomas." I have 2 babies in heaven now.
And of course, thinking back of what she must've gone through... And indeed I realized that... I hadn't even gone to the abortion mill with her.. I was that much of a coward. Maybe if I'd gone with her, I would've taken her out there at the last moment. I would've said, "Come on let's go, let's get out of this place."
Having sidewalk counselled in front of many, many abortion mills, spending many, many, many hours, it is very, very rare that anyone goes to an abortion mill, a woman by herself in a crisis pregnancy -- there's always an accomplice .. But I didn't even accompany my girlfriend to watch over her, to protect her, or maybe even at the last minute save her from the wound, and of course save my babies from being killed.
Now I witness in front of abortion mills and to many people, as often as I can about my complicity and that abortio . I have continued to heal not just from Mary's death but also Thomas' death and of course in the wounding of my girlfriend. I've come to realize that I am like every man that has gently coerced or overtly coerced his girlfriend into having an abortion.
I truly am complicit in my girlfriend's abortion.
I have experienced Christ's mercy. I've experienced Christ's healing. I've experienced the mercy of the Church . The healing of the Church through the sacraments. When I was in the seminary before I became a priest. Of course being a complicit of an abortion is an impediment it's an irregularity. I had to apply and did receive a dispensation for me to become a priest, and how blessed I am that the Church and Jesus is so merciful.
So my brothers and sisters in Christ, I encourage anyone out there, if you've had an abortion.. Men if you've become complicit in an abortion, seek the sacrament of reconciliation. Go see a priest. Experience Christ's mercy. Experience Christ's healing. Because until the culture heals from the wound of abortion, truly the scourge of abortion will not come to a full end. We can end abortion tomorrow, however, the wounds of abortion being healed will come much slower. My brothers and sisters in Christ, you can go to Silent No More Awareness, and see my story, download my story.
I thank you for your prayers, and be assured of my prayers not only for my brothers and sisters in Christ, but in particular for all women and men who've been wounded by abortion.
May God bless you.
Fr. Stephen Imbarrato
Priests For Life
Silent No More: 888-735-3448