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The story of a life-changer

Judie Brown discusses the history of Celebrate Life Magazine on its 30th Anniversary.

About 30 years ago, when American Life League was a fledgling organization, a young mother of three decided that it was time to spread some news, keep pro-life Americans in touch with each other and report on matters being ignored by the “mainstream” media. She happened to be me, ALL’s president.

Way back in 1980, it took our 10-member board of directors a long time to come up with a name for the little newsletter. You see, ALL was founded by five couples, but the men, as usual, took the lead and were decisive. So, the husbands were the ones who agreed on the newsletter’s title.

Shortly thereafter, our first “issue” was created.

Humble beginnings

I distinctly recall using my IBM Selectric typewriter, standing at the washing machine to type and patiently dealing with three rambunctious children (ages six, eight and 10) to get that four-page issue out. I also recall having it printed with green ink because, we all knew that the color of hope had a great deal to do with the mission of this amazing organization, which then had a grand total of 500 pro-life activists on its mailing list.

In those days, our family did the envelope stuffing, the stamping, the delivery to the post office and all the rest because there was very little funding and no paid staff, but so much enthusiasm that even the hardest task was a joy. The children always helped; they knew that Mom and Dad were “saving babies” and that they were helping to save lives, too. In fact, whenever we stood in front of an abortion mill, I remember my children being the most eloquent defenders of the little ones. To this very day, I am positive that the young are among the most effective voices for life. Children never compromise, but always speak the truth.

As the years went by, ALL About Issues grew from four to eight pages, then to a 24-page, full-size newspaper format, then to a 48-page newsprint magazine. Finally, nearly 15 years later, it turned into to a glossy, full-color magazine. Each step along the way was filled with enthusiastic support for what we were doing. Families from one end of this nation to the other congratulated us for providing a publication that, as one woman wrote, “is so good it went to my doctor’s office right after the family finished reading it.”

We still receive such responses, and as far as we know, many of our readers still put our magazine to positive uses such as this. In 1994, ALL About Issues became Celebrate Life, which continues to be a source of education, inspiration, thoughtful reflection and so much more.

Now that I am the grandma of 11 wonderful children, I look back and thank God for the way He has blessed our humble beginnings, our growth and our outreach.  The lives of some of our readers have changed dramatically as a result of what they read in a particular issue.

A generation raised on CL

More than a few young men have told me that they grew up with Celebrate Life in their home and discerned a vocation to the priesthood, in part, they believe, because of the inspiration they received from reading our pages and the education in Catholic doctrine that has always been an integral part of our magazine’s mission.

Several young women have used our articles to help them overcome the errors and trauma of premarital sex, contraception and abortion; cope with giving birth out of wedlock; and even adopt children from a third-world country.

Whether it’s through an e-mail, an instant message, a handwritten note or a phone call, each individual whose life has been impacted by Celebrate Life has an important story to tell, and we love to hear them all.

When I hear from those whose lives have been touched in some way by our work, I have to smile or weep, or simply say a prayer of gratitude to Jesus Christ. Long ago, I realized that, despite how hard we work or how many hours we spend on this or that activity, it isn’t us at all that accomplishes anything; it’s Him! Without Him, we can do nothing, which is why, of all my personal activities—including enjoying my wonderful husband and family—the most important part is daily Mass.

When I think back on how ALL got started, I am really overwhelmed by the way God has molded it at each step of the way. Our flagship publication, Celebrate Life, now beautifully designed and edited, is a labor of love that is constantly evolving and improving—in no small part because as long as we remain putty in God’s hands, great things will occur through His power and grace.

And it is also because of you, our dear readers, that we are moving forward still! We thank you from the bottom of our hearts, pray for you daily and hope you will rejoice in Celebrate Life’s 30th anniversary as well.

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About the author

Judie Brown

Judie Brown is president of American Life League and served 15 years as a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.