|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
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.
mother reaches out to unborn
By Christine Bordelon
wants you to do something, he’ll let you know.
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.
God was always patient, putting people in her path until
she awakened to do his will as a crusader for
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
her home. (Her phone number happened to be one digit
different than the number of a local abortion clinic.)
|Ann Stevens and her husband Gordon have seven children and three grandchildren.|
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.
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.”
volunteering with New Orleans Right to Life, sat on its
board and was involved in the ACCESS Pregnancy Center.
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
Kids 4 Jesus
Stevens started the Kids 4 Jesus (K
4 J) program to teach Catholic virtues first in her
“I wanted to be an example to show that this
was an important issue and that we value every person,”
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
“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.”
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 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
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
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.”
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.
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.