Birthright of Rockland Celebrates 40 Years of Helping Pregnant Women and Their Babies

Lillian Dobson, Msgr. James Cox, former Vicar of Rockland County, Karin Lancellotti, Executive Director of Birthright of Rockland, Eileen Francis, Secretary of Birthright, and Cathy Baker at the 40th anniversary gala luncheon.

Lillian Dobson, Msgr. James Cox, former Vicar of Rockland County, Karin Lancellotti, Executive Director of Birthright of Rockland County, Eileen Francis, Secretary of Birthright, and Cathy Baker at the 40th anniversary gala luncheon.

Lillian Dobson and Cathy Baker, the founders of Birthright of Rockland County, were honored at a gala luncheon celebrating the crisis pregnancy center’s 40th anniversary at the Clubhouse at Patriot Hills in Stony Point on Saturday.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, was the guest speaker. Other guests included over 200 friends, benefactors, clergy, and volunteers – past and present — of the organization in Rockland as well as representatives of Birthright chapters throughout the state of New York.

Karin Lancellotti, Executive Director of Birthright of Rockland, opened the program by introducing members of the Board and volunteers.

Jim Powers, President of the Board of Directors, welcomed everyone and  thanked the hundreds who had worked with Birthright over the years to help pregnant women and their babies — the board members, volunteer counselors, fundraisers, those who provided material assistance and monetary donations, and those who offered the prayers “that resulted in miracles.”

“You are the best,” he said, looking forward to Birthright’s next 40 years of “helping women and caring for children, with love and a smile.”

Next Marin Hillis, a student at St. Paul’s in Congers, led the singing of “God Bless America,” followed by the invocation offered by Monsignor Emmet Nevin, the Vicar of Rockland and pastor of St. Paul’s Church in Congers.

Board member Mary Kelly then introduced the honorees, Lillian Dobson and Cathy Baker, and presented them with certificates of appreciation.  Cathy Baker responded, thanking the Birthright community. “I can’t say enough about how much I love all of you,” she said.

Cathy Baker, Birthright or Rockland co-founder.

Cathy Baker, Birthright or Rockland co-founder.

Cathy told the story of how the first Birthright office was set up in a little 8’x8’ room in a building across from St. Anthony’s Church in Nanuet in 1974 and how her mission was shaped by a meeting with Mother Theresa of Calcutta the following year.  The saintly nun shared her wisdom of serving those in need: just focus on the person in front of you, listen and love. Your arms need only to embrace as far as they can reach.

Fr. Joseph, Cathy Baker, and Jeanmarie Grahn meet Mother Theresa in 1975.

Fr. Joseph, Cathy Baker, and Jeanmarie Grahn meet Mother Theresa in 1975.

This guidance became the essence of the Birthright philosophy: to show nonjudgmental love and support to each pregnant woman who comes to them and help her respect her baby’s life.

The final speaker was Cardinal Dolan, who said he has been involved with Birthright since he was 26 years old, when he was asked to help establish a Birthright chapter in Milwaukee.

“Thanks be to God for the 40 years of service of Birthright,” he began.  He also thanked his brother priests, many of whom were present, for their support of the organization.

Timothy Cardina Dolan, Archbishop of New York, greets Ann O'Connor, one of the orignal Birthright volunteers.

Timothy Cardina Dolan, Archbishop of New York, greets Ann O’Connor, one of the orignal Birthright volunteers.

Birthright, he said, is a radiant way to be pro-life.  And to be pro-life means to be for something — for life, for the baby, for the mother.

He cited a survey of women in crisis pregnancies that found that what was most important in their decision to choose life was the appearance of someone who, in this critical time, could promise support and be there for them with words of courage and love.

This is what Birthright does, the Cardinal said, and that is why Birthright brings credibility to the pro-life movement.

He continued, noting that in a culture where anyone or anything that threatens our comfort or convenience can be disposed with — be it the unborn, the elderly, or the handicapped —  Birthright shows this tiny spark of unborn life is worth defending.

Cardinal Dolan concluded by expressing his gratitude for the Birthright volunteers, who help frightened and confused pregnant women to understand the “beauty and sacredness of life, in a nonjudgmental way.”

Speeches and Awards (To enlarge a photo, click on it and then you can use the arrow to the right to advance thru the slide show.)

Cardinal Dolan (To enlarge a photo, click on it and then you can use the arrow to the right to advance thru the slide show.)

Guests (To enlarge a photo, click on it and then you can use the arrow to the right to advance thru the slide show.)

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