After years of prayer, a Catholic parish in Lansing, Michigan found a way to get rid of an abortion clinic in their neighborhood: They leased an entire floor of the building that housed the clinic, forcing the doctor who committed abortions there to move out.
Father Steve Mattson, pastor of the Church of the Resurrection, explained in an interview that members of the parish had been praying for years in front of WomanCare, the only remaining dedicated abortion clinic in Lansing. Five times, the 40 Days for Life campaign gathered to pray on the sidewalk in front of the clinic. Abortion opponents even raised funds to rent a billboard across the street, using the sign to offer assistance to women facing unplanned pregnancies.
“God's timing is perfect,” said Father Steve. In a letter to parishioners, he explained that this year, the parish is planning to welcome four sisters from the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. The sisters will teach at the parish school and at Lansing Catholic High School. They would need a convent; and as he considered the options, the space that seemed most appropriate for their needs was already occupied by his residence and the parish offices.
With the goal of finding new office space close to the church, Fr. Steve considered re-purposing an existing space, such as the parish hall. But that, too, was needed. He set out to explore other options, and then it seemed the Holy Spirit took control. As he explained on the parish website:
“As time passed, the Lord made clear that our need for temporary office space and our parish commitment to pray and fast to end abortion might come together providentially. Encouraged by the prayers of the faithful at our parish, we began to explore whether the owners of the building that housed WomanCare would consider leasing the space to the Church of the Resurrection instead of the abortionist. Their openness to the discussion led to further praying, fasting, and ongoing discussion with lay leaders of the parish and pro-life leaders in our community.”
The abortionist, Dr. Theodore Roumell, had never committed himself to a long-term practice in the community, preferring to continue his lease month-to-month; so there was no legal impediment to taking over his space. Father Steve believed that the parish's presence at that site could be a source of healing, formation, and greater outreach to the “least of these” in the community.
With that in mind, Bishop Earl Boyea, bishop of Lansing, has signed a 33-month lease on two suites totaling 4,100 square feet on the first floor of 1601 E. Grand River. Plans call for the south suite, where the abortionist has operated his business, to become the parish offices. The north suite will house a chapel and a new pro-life center. Father Steve announced the move to his parishioners on August 1. The parish will begin occupancy on October 1.
As they wait to move into their new parish offices, parishioners of the Church of the Resurrection is praying that this will be the end to abortion in the parish boundaries. The abortionist, Dr. Roumell, is 78 years old. Father Steve is hopeful that Roumell will retire instead of seeking a new location for his practice
A blessing is being planned for the October 1 move-in date to rededicate the space that had been the setting of bloodshed and death. I will instead be dedicated to God's purposes. “Let us rejoice,” Fr. Steve writes,
“...that the Lord has allowed us to bring healing to a place where such harm has been done. I am grateful for Bishop Boyea's blessing of our endeavor. As noted in his letter to the parish,'...with all men and women of good faith, I rejoice that your new offices will transform a place long-dedicated to the destruction of life into a center committed to proclaiming Christ who is the Resurrection and the Life.'”