The harvest indeed is great, but the laborers are few. Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into His harvest. Go. Behold, I send you forth as lambs in the midst of wolves.Luke 10:2-4
I remember the first time I met Sally Brunn. It was 2009. I was a fairly new Christian, having been baptized and given my life to the Lord in 2005. God had recently broken my heart after hearing a sermon about abortion. My eyes were opened to the horror, but I didn’t know what to do about it. When I finally got up my courage to go to Planned Parenthood for the first time, I only was able to do so because someone had told me that I wouldn’t be alone. I was told that there were three people who went every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, from 7 till 11 am. They did this every week, 52 weeks a year!!! So, knowing that someone else would be there, I nervously drove to Pittsburgh. Bob Newman was there with his big signs, along with Sally & Al. I was in my 40’s at that time and they were probably close to 80. I thought they were very old, and was amazed at their dedication to stand in front of Planned Parenthood for so many hours!
When Sally told me that she had 11 kids, I couldn’t believe it! I think I said something dumb like, “I didn’t know it was possible to have 11 kids and still be able to walk!” But there she was…spry, agile and full of energy! Later, talking to Bob Newman, he told me that he also had 11 kids!!! WHAT??? I soon met another saintly pro-lifer named Mary Catherine who ALSO had 11 kids!!! What kind of world was I entering into? In my entire life, I had never met anyone who had more than 4 or 5 kids!
As I began to witness in front of Planned Parenthood weekly, I learned many things from Sally. For instance, I had never heard anything as strange as when she and Al explained that birth control is the cause of abortion! How could that be? Birth control PREVENTED abortion…right? Oh, what an education I was in for…it was to change my life. They never preached to me, but the example of their lives and their commitment to God and to ending abortion spoke louder than any words ever could have.
Growing up in the 1970’s, during the hey-day of “women’s lib“…I was taught by the culture that if a woman didn’t stand up for her rights in a marriage, that she would be like a doormat and that her husband would walk all over her. I believed that if a marriage didn’t make you happy, that you could just leave. A child was better off in a single parent house, then in a house with parents who fought. Of course, that sort of thinking led me to enter very lightly into two marriages, both of which ended quickly. By the time I was 30, I already had two kids with two different last names. Oh, I was liberated all right! It was working out very well for me…NOT!!!
So, when I met Sally and began to see the way in which she quietly and lovingly stood by Al…always supportive of him…my eyes began to be opened. I also saw the way he looked at her, with such love and tenderness. He would always introduce her as “my lovely bride“…and she would smile her huge Sally-Smile. I remember her telling me that on their wedding night, they both knelt down beside their bed in prayer, and gave their marriage to God. God honored that prayer and blessed their marriage with 11 healthy and wonderful children! I remember feeling slightly jealous that I had been robbed of an example like that…and so had virtually NO chance at a marriage and family like theirs. When I grew up, if you were a virgin at 16, it was something to be ashamed of. The thought of actually WAITING till marriage was unheard of!
One story I remember clearly, is Al telling me that he never really appreciated how much Sally did all day, taking care of the kids…until one day when he came home from work to find her on her hands and knees, underneath the kitchen table. He asked her incredulously, “Sally, what are you doing under there?” She answered matter-of-factly that the kids would get food from their sticky hands all over the bottom of the table, so she had to clean it. He got a glimpse of how hard she worked to keep their home, and of all the little things that went into raising a family, that he never even knew about. As he told me this story, he was radiating with love and respect for her!
I never saw one without the other. In fact, instead of calling them “Al and Sally”..it would often come out as “Sal and Ally”! They were a team. They were ONE! They worked side by side…for 30 years raising their family, and for another 30 years on the front lines of the battle to end abortion. They were truly the biggest inspiration and best example of Christian marriage that I have ever seen…and I am forever grateful for the impact that knowing them made in my life. Without them, I don’t think we would have the vibrant pro-life family that we have here in Pittsburgh. Without them, I don’t think I would have the strong faith that I have now. It was Sally who gave me my first rosary, and it was she who was my sponsor as I entered the Catholic Church in 2013.
For many years, they felt the weight and the burden of being there on the sidewalk…knowing that if they didn’t go, the sidewalk would be empty. In fact, until about a year ago, they were still taking the bus to Planned Parenthood, two days a week. Sally would slowly cross Liberty Avenue, using her walker, with Al on her elbow. However, when Al had his stroke a year ago, they were no longer able to come to the sidewalk regularly.
All those years they prayed for God to send more workers for the abundant harvest…and He has done just that, through 40 Days for Life!
I imagine that they are relieved to know that there are now many of us who are picking up where they left off. They can now rest easy…knowing that the sidewalk is covered with prayer. Those babies are not dying alone and forgotten.
Please pray for Sally and Al, as Sally had a major stroke last Wednesday. She seems to be at peace…is sometimes responsive and is surrounded by her loving family. One benefit of having 11 kids…you never have to worry about being alone at the end of life!!! She is anointed and blessed…her bags are packed…and she is waiting for Heaven! Or should I say, Heaven is waiting for her!
Thank you Lord, for Sally, and for her life’s example. I will spend however many more years you grant me, trying to be half the woman that she was.
We love you Sally, and we devote these 40 days in honor of you!
Today’s reports from the vigil…
Peggy was the manager from 7-9 am:
There was a nice turnout from St. Louise. It was very quiet. Only one person went in while we were there. There was a sign in the window of the gay bar advertising their opposition sing-along.Peg
Cathy and Elsie were in charge from 9-11 am:
We had a very quiet morning, but with lots of prayer-ers! St Louise de Marillac- Sherri, Cindy, Debbie, Diane, plus a couple for awhile from the early shift, Elk Co. RTL – Laura, Janet, Kelly, Gretchen and Mary Beth, plus some individuals – Bill L., Priscilla, and Debbie. I hope I got everyone. So thankful for all of you!Cathy
Hank and Judy managed the sidewalk from 11 am – 1 pm:
Another beautiful Oct day in the Burg….Lord how we look forward to the day when we can be outdoors enjoying the sunshine with abortion and PP done away with. But our colors are true and we’ll stay the course and persevere in prayer until this scourge is ended. Many prayer warriors as has been the case the past two 11-1 Wed shifts. When I arrived I was greeted by the Rocco family form Elizabeth Anne Seton, there was also a strong contingent throughout the morning from St.Louise deMarillac. Those from SLD joining the 11-1 shift were Mary, Patti and Denise. Elk County Right to Life had a group scheduled for 10-2 that included Kelly, Lori, Janet, Gretchen and Mary Bea. Mary from St.Monica was there when I arrived and when I left, and Jerry and Barb form Our Lady of Fatima arrived around noon. Debbie from Epiphany has been there all 3 Weds for part of the shift. Wed is not an abortion day and traffic in and out of PP was light, although, probably more than usual. We prayed multiple rosaries, and the the Divine Mercy. We did distributed a good bit of literature and had 10 or 12 individuals who gave us positive comments, but I’m still amazed at the number who simply ignore us or seem totally indifferent. We are warned “If you are neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” In this month of Our Lady, we ask Our Lady of Victory to intercede for us for the victory over a culture of death.
Rege and John were there from 1-3 pm:
Quiet afternoon. Peaceful and prayerful witness given. Love of our Lord evident and shared.Rege
Jeannie and Virginia from 3-5 pm:
What a beautiful two hours on the sidewalk! I was joined by my shift buddy Virginia and my dear friend Marilyn. Mimi made an appearance and took over the sidewalk for her rendition of the rosary. David joined us halfway through the shift as well. We had lots of supportive. conversations today. A gentleman stopped who was giving support to a homeless person and learned she was pregnant. He came to us knowing we would know where to direct her. Another man came and stopped by because he recognized Mimi from church. He said a few hail Mary’s with us! The woman who stopped and applauded us in the wheelchair last week came over with her granddaughter on her lap in the wheelchair she asked if we could use some additional volunteers. She takes care of her granddaughter and drops her off and picks her up a couple days a week. she said she will stop and pray with us. How good is God? That good. We had a ton of daisies from my garden so we gave a lot out to little ones and a particular young girl was really fascinated by that precious one baby we gave her. All in all a beautiful two hours on the sidewalk.Jeannie
Joe K and David from 5-7 pm:
What a stunning Indigenous Peoples Summer Evening…Joe K.
I was blessed to be joined by my volunteer shift buddies – David and Thao. We soaked up the sun, shared, and prayed what a peaceful, easy feeling!
Pretty quiet on the sidewalk – a few positive comments and appreciation for us being out there. In particular, one gentleman struggling physically to get up with street with assistance thanked us and said we could use more folks out there. In comparison, another gentleman in a wheelchair stopped by to talk to us about the vigil, but he seemed a little hardened… What was beautiful was how it was a total team effort by David, Thao, and I to respond to witness to this young man’s questions / issues… Hopefully he will hear and see the truth that was laid out for him…
The evening seemed like it ended quickly as faithful Tom came by to pack-up the vigil for Thursday…