National Catholic Register: Pro-life activist Randall Terry converts to Catholicism, still slaying dragons
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (National Catholic Register) – Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry – who entered the Catholic Church on Holy Thursday – describes his library as his “sanctuary.”
It’s all that and something more. Not only is it a space where Terry can retreat from the noise of his three, soon to be four, rambunctious young boys, but it’s also where he spends time in prayer and strategizing his run for the Senate in Florida’s Eighth District. While it has been several years since his direct pro-life action work, his library décor demonstrates that he’s still out to slay dragons.
Unlike the knights of old, he doesn’t reside in a medieval castle. But his two-story stucco beach home tucked in a gated community just two blocks off Florida’s First Coast is as close as you can get.
The focal point of Terry’s library is a crucifix surrounded by various icons. There’s one of St. George slaying a dragon. There’s another of St. Demetrius. Terry also has statues of St. Michael and a Scottish warrior.
The Book of Common Prayer, which used to stand upright like the St. Joseph Daily Missal on the opposite side, has fallen down on its back.
“It’s probably fallen down because of my conversion,” Terry, 46, said with a laugh.
The steps of Terry’s journey can be traced as one walks the hallway leading to the library.
Frames reveal key points in Terry’s life.
In one framed newspaper article, Roe v. Wade’s Norma McCorvey hugs Terry during his first run for political office – a failed attempt to run for the House of Representatives in New York. In another article, written after his move to Florida, Terry stands reflectively looking out at the Atlantic Ocean, pondering his next move.
That move, joining the Catholic Church, came unexpectedly this Lent after what Terry describes as a 20-year search for truth. That journey is evident from the mementos and books found in the home. A copy of Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma sits on the bathroom counter. Luther, Aquinas, Chesterton, Belloc and the early church fathers line the bookshelves. A photograph of Terry with Pope John Paul II sits in the home’s entryway, as well as in his library.
Terry is as surprised as anyone by where his journey has led.
Terry is best known for his years spent in pro-life activism. Following a prayer meeting where a woman brought up the issue of abortion and through the example of others engaged in peaceful protest, Terry founded Operation Rescue – a group that nonviolently blocked abortion clinic entrances until police physically removed them.
Terry was first arrested with the movement in 1986.
While in prison, Terry met Father John Mikalajunas, a prison chaplain working in the Diocese of Syracuse.
“I would come in once a week for those who were incarcerated,” said Father Mikalajunas. “Although Randall wasn’t Catholic, when I had Mass, he would be present.”
That was the start of a 20-year relationship which would ultimately bring Terry into the fullness of the Christian faith.
After that, the two kept in contact through pro-life work, conferences, and luncheons. “He was always very Catholic, but he kept fighting it,” said Father Mikalajunas.
Terry was arrested more than 40 times for his protests at abortion businesses.
In 1998, after a string of 27 lawsuits by organizations such as the National Organization for Women, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, Terry filed bankruptcy and lost his home. In 1991, he closed Operation Rescue.
“I was traveling too much,” he said. “It was hard on my children. I was burning out.”
Yet, his work has left its mark. Among others, Priests for Life founder Father Frank Pavone, former abortionist Bernard Nathanson and Norma McCorvey all have spoken positively of Operation Rescue’s impact on their own pro-life commitment.
Terry said it’s only a matter of time before the “dragon” of legal abortion on demand is slain.
“I am convinced that in my lifetime we will see the full protection of law restored to unborn babies and pregnant mothers,” Terry said. “I am certain we will dance on the grave of Roe v. Wade.”
What he couldn’t rescue
For all his success on the activism front, his travels, prison sentences, and multiple lawsuits took their toll on his three children and his first marriage, which he described as doomed from the start. After 19 years, he and his first wife were divorced.
“There were tragic problems that were inherent to the marriage,” said Terry. “According to Catholic doctrine as it has been taught to me, those problems made it an invalid sacrament.”
He still grieves the divorce.
“I recognize that decisions that I made in my 20s and 30s have lifelong implications,” Terry said. “Most of my regrets revolve around leadership decisions and personal life choices.”
In addition to his marriage, Terry was unable to salvage his New York home, his pro-life organization, his radio station – ...
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More U.S. News
- Violent Tsarnev friend killed by FBI after blaming Tamerlan for unsolved murders
- Eric Garcetti becomes Los Angeles' first Jewish mayor
- 12,000 homes damaged or destroyed in Moore, daunting road to recovery underway
- US Supreme Court Accepts Religion Case: Will Legislative Prayer Survive Religious Censorship?
- In the Wake of the Moore Tornado: What Can we Learn from the Disaster?
- Priests for Life: Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act Most Significant Legislative Step Forward
- Homeless man whose face was eaten away in cannibal attack recovering
- Court sides with Obama, Osama death photos can remain secret - for your own good
- Largest Burmese Python caught in Miami-Dade County
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?