Last year, Gabriel Vance, founder of the Columbus, Ohio-based pro-life group Catholics for Life, stood praying outside an abortion facility. As he prayed, he noticed a man drive up and drop off his partner. While the man stayed in the car with two other children, the woman entered the facility.
Gabriel approached the man to talk to him, and in doing so, found that he was upset and didn’t want his partner to go through with the abortion. Gabriel encouraged him to continue to talk with her via phone and text. The man drove away, promising to try.
After the man left, Gabriel began saying Venerable Fulton J. Sheen’s prayer for the spiritual adoption of babies in danger of abortion. He said that prayer repeatedly and fervently, asking God for that baby’s life to be spared—or another baby’s life, if it was too late for this baby.
As he was praying, another car pulled in. The pregnant mother went inside the facility, while the father approached Gabriel to talk. Gabriel began explaining that every baby is a gift and that there are people who can help. He then pointed to the pregnancy resource center across the street and said the couple could get help there. The man accepted literature from Gabriel, got the mom out of the Planned Parenthood facility, drove across the street, and entered the Women’s Care Center, where they got a free ultrasound.
Gabriel doesn’t know if he saved the baby that day, but he does know that, when the couple left the pregnancy resource center, they smiled and waved—a definite positive sign.
Because he loves babies and their moms, Gabriel Vance puts himself between the abortion facility and the abortion-minded every day.
A pro-life beginning
It’s no surprise that Gabriel grew up to create a Catholic, pro-life organization. He had always been passionate about saving babies. As a child, he would pray with his family in front of abortion facilities. In middle school, he attended Marches for Life. And in high school, he began a pro-life group called Crusaders for Life.
But it was an event during his senior year of high school that solidified his passion and desire to make pro-life work his life’s work. During spring break of that year, he went on a Justice Ride with a pro-life group called Created Equal. The mission of the Justice Ride—a bus trip to different cities in Florida—is to train high school and college students to talk to people about abortion and about the sanctity of life. Gabriel and other missionaries went to several college campuses to educate students. During this trip, Gabriel learned the importance of effective dialog and was even part of an outreach where an abortion-minded mother changed her mind and spared the life of her baby.
Gabriel would later take a summer internship with Created Equal. He then attended Ohio Dominican University, where he earned a degree in theology. After graduation, he returned to Created Equal, where he continues his work part-time as director of external affairs.
Catholics for Life
While Created Equal does many great things, it is not distinctly Catholic. Gabriel longed to begin an organization that is solely Catholic and one that is geared toward changing hearts and minds. So in January 2021 he founded Catholics for Life. Its mission is to “inspire and equip Catholic men and women for bold pro-life activism and evangelization.” According to the site, the group relies “on the grace of Jesus Christ, given through Mary, to lead public events that change minds on abortion, bring post-abortive parents to healing, rescue children from death, and spread the Catholic faith for the salvation of souls.”
Though the fledgling organization is small, its members have made a huge impact on the community around them. Comprised mostly of young adults, the group stands in front of abortion facilities, prays the Rosary, and reaches out to moms in need.
Their outreach extends to college campuses as well. So far, the group has been to Capital University, Columbus State Community College, and the Ohio State University. On these campuses they pass out Rosaries, holy cards, and other information about what abortion does to babies and moms. When they set up tables on the campuses, they begin dialog by asking people passing by: “What do you think about abortion?”
Many good conversations have begun this way, and the group credits Gabriel’s strong teaching skills with the fact that 36 people have said they changed their minds about abortion.
Gabriel is truly skilled at teaching the kids and young adults how to talk to others in a nonconfrontational but educational way, and he admits that it’s quite amazing that these young people are so on fire for the pro-life cause. He calls them Torchbearers because they carry the flame of divine love and truth—the flame of the gospel—into the darkness of the world.
When CLM asked Gabriel to describe a typical day for him and Catholics for Life, he responded that he normally attends a morning Mass then goes to the Planned Parenthood in Columbus to pray and sidewalk counsel. Other time is spent training people to sidewalk counsel and to talk about abortion.
Gabriel’s younger sister Rachael—a senior in high school—is active in the group and serves as its outreach assistant. Rachael is one of the many who has been inspired by Gabriel and his mission, and she hopes to make pro-life work her life’s work as well (see the CLSP article in this issue).
Gabriel hopes to expand Catholics for Life and reach people not only in Ohio, but throughout the US. He has already conducted some trainings—many via Zoom—at different churches, teaching people how to talk to abortion-minded mothers or to those who claim to be pro-abortion. But he wants to do more. He understands that hearts and minds won’t change without loving dialog.
In addition, believing that both Mary and the Eucharist are of vital importance to the pro-life movement, Gabriel would also like to organize a Eucharistic procession that goes from a church to Planned Parenthood. He knows that a Youngstown abortion facility closed after a Eucharistic procession, and he hopes to see both abortion facilities in Columbus close. Catholics for Life also often takes an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe or Our Lady of America when they pray in front of an abortion facility.
Gabriel hopes his pro-life passion will help inspire others and states: “As we work for the salvation of souls, ending abortion should be the next greatest task taken on by the Church Militant. History has never seen a greater human injustice. Catholics must lead this fight to build a culture of life, as we have the greatest avenues of grace to end abortion. May every one of us commit to doing at least one thing each day, if even just a simple prayer, to rescue our preborn brothers and sisters, the least of these.”
If you would like to have Gabriel speak to your group or teach your group how to talk about abortion, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-972-2570. You can learn more at CatholicsForLife.us.