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Regnum Christi Member Wins Archdiocesan Pro-Life Award
U. S. A. | APOSTOLATE | ON THE MEDIA
Ann Stevens received the New Orleans Regina Matrum award for her courageous work for women and the unborn.

Ann Stevens
On May 9, Ann Gleason Stevens of St. Catherine of Siena Parish will receive the Regina Matrum Award, symbolic of outstanding Catholic motherhood in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Stevens is the mother of seven and has advocated for the unborn for years.

June 8, 2009. Metaire, LA. Ann Stevens’ discovery of her special mission began when she started receiving wrong-number phone calls from girls who were trying to reach the local abortion clinic. Once she read an article by Dr Bernard Nathanson, an ex-abortionist, the pieces came together and she felt deeply called to do something more to help.

After years of putting her pro-life convictions into constructive action, Ann was recently nominated by her parish for the Regina Matrum Award, a diocesan pro-life award bestowed on her this past May 11 by Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes, of the archdiocese of New Orleans.

The Regina Matrum Award is intended to "honor an outstanding and representative Catholic mother of the Archdiocese and at the same time, focus the attention of the public on the ideals of Catholic motherhood and of genuine Catholic family life," according to the Council of Catholic School Cooperative Clubs, which sponsors the annual award.

The following article, authored by Christine Bordelon, is reprinted with permission from the Clarion Herald, the New Orleans archdiocesan newspaper. Photos courtesy of Christine Bourdelon.

***

A mother reaches out to unborn

By Christine Bordelon
Clarion Herald

When God wants you to do something, he’ll let you know.

For Ann Stevens, this year’s Regina Matrum honoree, God has led her spiritual life journey, beginning with a strong childhood Catholic faith in Braithwaite, marrying a man with a strong faith, having children, working in the pro-life movement and ministering to children and mothers in various Catholic ministries at her parish.

Stevens said God was always patient, putting people in her path until she awakened to do his will as a crusader for life.

Phone calls got through

She said she was a busy mother of four of her seven children in 1984 when phone calls from women seeking information on abortion began ringing at
Ann and family
Ann Stevens and her husband Gordon have seven children and three grandchildren.
her home. (Her phone number happened to be one digit different than the number of a local abortion clinic.)

“Why are these women calling me?” she kept asking.

A short time later, a priest at the Divine Word Seminary in Bay St. Louis, Miss., gave her a Ligourian magazine with an article about sibling rivalry, thinking it would be helpful for her girls. She glanced at that, but found another article by Dr. Bernard Nathanson, an ex-abortionist with a change of heart who founded the National Association for the Repeal of the Abortion Laws (NARAL) in the United States in 1968.

“That’s when God ripped my heart open,” Stevens said. “He did a number on me. I was so remorseful about my attitude toward abortion. I had four beautiful daughters. It changed my mind, and I knew I had to do something.”

She began volunteering with New Orleans Right to Life, sat on its board and was involved in the ACCESS Pregnancy Center.

“It was a dramatic change,” Stevens said of her pro-life involvement. “Just reading the literature. … I was encouraged to do something at my parish level.”

She said every Catholic should take a part to stop abortion, whether it’s prayers, bumper stickers, the March for Life in Washington, D.C., or wearing pro-life pins like she does.

“There are many little ways that we can take a stand and protect and speak up for life,” she said. “We hope our children will do the same thing.”

Kids 4 Jesus

Stevens started the Kids 4 Jesus (K 4 J) program to teach Catholic virtues first in her neighborhood.

“I wanted to be an example to show that this was an important issue and that we value every person,” she said.

The program has expanded to St. Catherine, where a monthly birthday party for Jesus is now held through the club. The program has spread to St. Clement of Rome in Metairie and St. Joan of Arc in LaPlace. She remains local K 4 J coordinator for Louisiana and Mississippi.

“You have to start younger (to keep our children grounded in their faith),” she said. “Our culture is working 24/7 against us, so we as mothers have to work extra hard to continue our Catholic traditions in our families.”

She deepened her spiritual life further by her family making Jesus Christ first in their lives through the “Enthronement to the Sacred Heart.” She has an altar in her home and began
Ann and her mother
Ann credits her mother Anna with the wonderful example of caring for three children after the untimely death of her husband. Ann has enthroned her home to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
praying with her family. She believes in the strength that prayer gives you.

“God in his great goodness gives you lagniappe,” she said. “I’m here. Thank you for doing your part.”

She’s also been involved in a Women’s Prayer Group at St. Catherine, the Respect Life Committee, teaching religious education, manning the Perpetual Adoration Chapel and the Regnum Christi movement, where she attends silent retreats.

Stevens said she’s learned that you can make a difference in your faith, love and service to others. She sees every stage of her life’s journey as a blessing, having been enriched by each.

“The tremendous blessing I learned is that as soon as you open the doors and say, ‘Here I am God, I will do this,’ you meet the most wonderful people,” she said. “Any time we are loving and sharing love for others, God just heals you.”

Wonderful examples

Stevens credits her example as a mother to her own mother, Anna Gleason, who valiantly raised three children on a teacher’s salary after her husband, Herman Gleason, died when Stevens was 13.

“She was such a strong example of faith,” Stevens said. “Her prayer life was so strong. I have vivid memories of her kneeling down and saying her prayers in the morning and at night. I received beautiful Catholic formation.”

Stevens also takes cues from Gordon’s mom, Rosemary Stevens, who raised six children after her husband died when Gordon was age 10. She was expecting her sixth child.

“God was working on my heart to be more open to having a larger family,” Stevens said, thinking originally four children would complete her family. “We really did appreciate family and faith and our children.”

Stevens is humbled by being the 63rd recipient of the Regina Matrum award and gives gratitude to God for her accomplishments, happy he could use her as “his instrument.”

“If I have done anything to please him, it’s because he gave me the faith to do it.”

Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes will present the award to Stevens at a Mass and ceremony May 11 at 7 p.m. at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Metairie.  A reception will follow in the Msgr. Barrett Complex.

“We all want to be happy, and we’re not going to find it until we find it in our own faith, in our Lord. There’s a restlessness that can’t be filled by our own busy lives or a beautiful house. Until we take the time to have a relationship with Christ and then he fills us to the brim.”

The Regina Matrum Award is sponsored every year by the Council of Catholic School Cooperative Clubs. The group selects the winner based on parish nominations.

Christine Bordelon can be reached at cbordelon@clarionherald.org.


PUBLICATION DATE: 2009-06-09


 
 

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