TITUSVILLE -- Titusville Vice Mayor Matt Barringer lived in Staten Island, N.Y., for a year so he knows a few things about the smallest borough of New York City.
The bagels are different in Central Florida. “Not better, not worse,” he said. “Just different.”
Traffic is definitely better, and unlike the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge linking Staten Island to Brooklyn, the Max Brewer Bridge does not exact a $17 toll as it carries Titusville residents and visitors to the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge and the Canaveral National Seashore.
Barringer had an opportunity to show off his Staten Island knowledge on April 28, when he spoke at the grand opening celebration for Priests for Life, an international pro-life ministry that relocated from Staten Island to Titusville in September 2017.
Quoting Thomas Jefferson when he said the “preservation of life” is the most important function of government, the vice mayor said, “We in Titusville stand by these core principles and we welcome the organization Priests for Life, and its members and associates, with open arms to our community. We as a city wish you prosperity in your efforts.”
Rep. Bill Posey (R-Rockledge) and Florida State Rep. Erin Grall also attended the ceremony, and Carol Fondo of the Titusville Chamber of Commerce brought along a giant pair of scissors to help cut the ribbon outside the building at 5211 S. Washington Ave.
In his remarks, Congressman Posey said the right to life “is an important civil right” that should be seen as “a current-day, modern-day civil right just like the others”, and he thanked Father Frank Pavone, Priests for Life national director, and his organization for “fighting the horrible injustice” of abortion.
Ms. Grall, who introduced a bill in the Florida legislature to protect unborn children from late-term dismemberment abortion, noted that her district is located just an hour and 10 minutes away from Priests for Life headquarters.
“I look forward to continuing this fight with all of you,” she said.
Rev. Keith Capizzi, pastor of Club Zion Community Church in Cocoa Beach, and Rev. Larry Linkous, pastor of the New Life Christian Fellowship Church in Titusville, also made remarks during the 45-minute ceremony under a hot sun in the front parking lot. Alveda King, director of Civil Rights for the Unborn for Priests for Life and a niece of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, led the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the national anthem.
In his remarks, Father Pavone called the battle to end abortion “the fundamental moral imperative” facing Americans today.
“This ministry exists precisely to bring about that awareness and the action that needs to flow from that awareness,” he said.
Priests for Life is the umbrella organization for a dozen ministries that reach out to youth, the African-American and Latino communities, priests and other clergy, seminarians and lay people. Priests for Life is a registered Non-Governmental Organization at the United Nations and has close contact with the Vatican through its office in Rome. Rachel’s Vineyard, the world’s largest ministry for healing after abortion, is part of Priests for Life, and the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, a mobilization of thousands of women and men who speak publicly about their abortion regret, is a joint project of Priests for Life and Anglicans for Life.
Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life and Silent No More’s co-founder, oversaw much of the year-long renovation of the 20,000-square-foot building and organized the opening day festivities for some 150 people with the help of the newly hired local staff.
“We have been able to hire top-notch people from Titusville and other communities, and we are still looking to hire more people for key positions,” she said. “And we always need volunteers.”
More than 40 pro-life leaders from as far away as California and Washington State gathered with Father Pavone and his pastoral team for a four-hour strategy session following the ribbon-cutting. Dinner followed in the outdoor patio of the former Patch building.
“If we have a facility, you have a facility,” Father Pavone told the pro-life leaders and pastors. “Today, we start a new chapter.”