The first time I met Bishop Morlino was in pebble-stone parking lot of what is now the Women’s Care Center. I wanted to see how Vigil for Life, an affiliate of Pro-Life Wisconsin, did their thing. Steve Karlen invited me to their kickoff event, which was held on a late Sunday afternoon on September 25th, 2011. It was supposed to be a potluck. I’m Irish, so all I brought was the luck. We marched around the perimeter of Planned Parenthood and marched back, praying the Rosary, doing stations of the cross and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. It was the hour of power for prayer – such a beautiful experience. But, back in those days, the Women’s Care Center had just been purchased and the buildout had not started just yet. As we processed to the future Women’s Care Center property, I remember singing the chaplet of Divine Mercy as I walked from the sidewalk into the pebble-stone parking lot. As we gathered in the parking lot to hear Bishop Morlino, we hadn’t quite finished Chaplet of Divine Mercy, so people around me took to their knees. I thought, “Wow, these people are hard-core!” So, I dropped to my knees, too. Both of my knees found a pebble just right. I remember physically wincing in pain. The only salve for my newly acquired divots in my knee-caps was this woman next to me who had the most beautiful voice. Every time she sang the response to “For the sake of His sorrowful passion” – it made me focus on the prayer and not the pain. I made a deal with myself that I could stand it until the end of the chaplet, but NO MORE! Then, after the Chaplet had ended, everyone around me remained kneeling! Now I was praying for Bishop Morlino to step up to the microphone so we could stand! I remember taking one of my prayer booklets out of my back pocket and kneeling on it. That prayer booklet has been with me through thick and thin.
They had a microphone and speakers set up for Bishop Morlino to address the pro-life faithful just outside this huge overhead door that is no longer there. I was standing way in back, but I always have a good view! His words were of the encouraging kind, but, I’m sorry Bishop Morlino, like most guys, I don’t remember what you said that day. We were just happy to be in your presence. We were overjoyed that we were standing on the very soil that thousands of women will plant their feet in to get to the free help available at the Women’s Care Center. We were about to make history. That’s what it felt like to be there that day. The pro-life community of Madison was on the verge of taking Planned Parenthood head on – right across the street. Offering good choices. Saving lives and souls – one woman at a time.
As many of you know, Madison is a very special place for me. It was here on the sidewalks in front of Planned Parenthood on Orin Road that God seared my heart – He convicted me and convinced me that I should never leave the battle field of abortion – to defend the sanctity of life. I went to a sidewalk counseling seminar put on by Pro-Life Wisconsin in Rockford, Illinois on July 31st, 2010. I went there with a heavy heart, because in the short time I had come back into the pro-life movement, I had decided that I wasn’t any good at this and was going to fade back into my old life. But God had other plans. Just three days after that fateful sidewalk counseling class, on August 3rd – God showed me my first save! Her name was Kiza. I was a complete puddle, as you may imagine. She said something to me that I thought was very strange at the time. She said, “I believe you are an angel sent here by God to be a voice for my baby.” So, this was the very thing that I had prayed for God to help me do – and then when it arrived, I couldn’t believe it was for real! Typical me, the “Doubting Thomas” – I had to see if this was a true calling. The abortion center in Milwaukee was closed on Wednesday, the day after my first save, so I called Steve Karlen on the way to Madison and asked him to guide me into the PP on Orin Road. I had never been there before. That morning – God introduced me to Audrey. I invited her to come down to “my” part of the sidewalk and talk. She did. I offered her free help but had no idea where to send her. We actually Googled it on her phone where to go. CareNet in Madison. I told her all about Kiza from the day before and my struggle to stay in “the work” – but I never mentioned the part about Kiza telling me I was an angel. Then Audrey said it, “Dan, I feel as though you were sent here by God, an angel to be a voice for my baby.” Time stood still from that day forward. Hundreds of babies have been saved because those two women chose life, at those two exact and perfect moments in my life. It was beautiful then. It’s just as beautiful now. So, thank you, Bishop Morlino, for shepherding Steve Karlen to be good at giving directions to Planned Parenthood!
People of Madison, you have prayed for God to rain down His grace upon your land, where you have begged His forgiveness on bended knee. You did what God asked of you in 2 Chronicles 7:14 “ And my people, upon whom my name is called, being converted, shall make supplication to me, and seek out my face, and do penance for their most wicked ways: then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.”
Pro-Life Wisconsin is so blessed to be a part of your community. Bishop Morlino, what you have done here is beyond a mere mortal’s words. Your leadership has inspired people to make great sacrifices to end abortion. You have shepherded your flock well. Look at the time your sheep have given! Thousands of cumulative hours spent out in front of Planned Parenthood making a difference. Your prayers. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were more than a million rosaries prayed throughout the years in front of Planned Parenthood to end abortion. Your finances. Millions of dollars you have sacrificed so that our brothers and sisters in Christ may have a better chance of making it out of the womb ALIVE! If the life of the pro-life movement is any indicator of a faithful Bishop, you are absolutely guilty of leading your flock well! Thank you! You are a sign that the hope of Christ is alive and well. Let us rejoice and be glad for your steadfast love for Christ, your vocation and for the people you serve and have served so well.
-Dan Miller, State Director of Pro-Life Wisconsin