Dec. 3 — Jeanmarie Grahn, co-founder of the Rockland Right to Life Committee, was honored for her lifelong prolife work by Good Counsel Homes at their annual benefit Concert for Life on Dec. 3 at the Marian Shrine in West Haverstraw.
The award was presented by Chris Bell, president and executive director of Good Counsel Homes, which provides residential care and support for homeless expectant mothers and their children in the context of Catholic social tradition. There are six Good Counsel Homes, one of which is in Spring Valley, N.Y.
The program of Christmas and other music was hosted by Steve Possell, of the WRCR radio talk show, “The Morning Show with Steve and Jordan.” The performers were the Children of Mary Preschool Choir, Dick Eggers, Toni Lynn Moore, No Boundaries, Ted Simone, the Mueller Family Schola, and Monica Peterson St. John. Eileen Peterson was the producer and accompanist for some of the singers.
The audience, many of whom were longtime friends of Jeanmarie who have worked with her on many charitable activities, joined the Grahn family for a reception in Lomagno Hall, adjacent to the shrine church, after the concert.
Jeanmarie Grahn was born in Nyack in 1936 to Catherine and Eugene Fenton, the third of 10 children. Following her marriage in 1960, she and her husband, Roger, settled in New City, where she continues to live today. Through the years, seven children, 18 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren have been welcomed there.
Always a busy lady, Jeanmarie has worked for Nyack Hospital, Orange & Rockland, the federal government, and local school districts. She still works part time at the New City Methodist Church, where she enjoys the ecumenical fellowship.
Jeanmarie has been a parishioner of St. Augustine Church in New City for 56 years, having served in the past as a lector, eucharistic minister, CCD teacher, and school volunteer. At present, she is a greeter, Hospitality Team member, and funeral liturgy consultant.
However, her greatest commitment, since the early 1970s, has been to fight for the protection of the unborn, the handicapped, and the aged. Under the guidance of Rev. Ed Netter of St. Anthony’s, and together with Margaret Fitton, she co-founded the Rockland Right to Life Committee and continues on its board today.
Rockland Right to Life had its beginning at the ‘Women’s Walk For Life’ in 1971 when 2,500 women walked north from Albertus Magnus High School to Main Street in New City, where, greeted by pealing church bells, they marched to the county courthouse to show their concern and support for the Sanctity of Life. At that time, being part of a “street demonstration” was totally out of most women’s comfort zone. However, they came and a bond was created, and the work was begun.
Public attention and support for life issues were also stimulated by frequent talk show appearances of RTL speakers on the popular local radio station WRKL, as well as at schools and gatherings.
The Knights of Columbus became huge supporters of Sanctity of Life issues and, with their assistance, as many as eight buses traveled from Rockland to Washington, DC, in those early years, for the annual March for Life.
Right To Life activities have continued for over four decades with prayer, many educational and civic programs, a newsletter, and now, a website. Its members have gone on to found or play leading roles in other prolife groups like Birthright, the Rachel Ministry, and Good Counsel, and that is a matter of great pride to Jeanmarie.
As an Archdiocesan Lady of Charity, Jeanmarie also reaches out to the homeless, sick, and homebound. The core sanctity of all life is what inspires her efforts. She is sustained by the words spoken to her in 1975 by Mother Teresa: “At the end of life, Jesus will ask, ‘What did you do for my children?’”
Rockland Right to Life is very proud of Jeanmarie, who has served as president, secretary, board member, and for 40 years has been a powerful voice for the unborn, a tireless educator to the schools and community, and the driving force behind so many of our efforts. She has led us by her wisdom, perseverance, grace and good humor, sustained by her love for all of us and her unbounded faith in God. May God bless you always, Jeanmarie.
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