My parents are pro-life to their core. It is an essential characteristic of who they are. It is as much a part of them as their eye color and entwined in the fiber of their being. It isn’t a matter of politics or even a good argument. They could no sooner choose not to be pro-life than they could choose not to be of Irish decent.

That strong, pro-life value is their worldview — the filter from which they interpret their experiences. So, how does such a strong value get communicated? My home growing up was full of life. I am one of nine children — a strong testament to my parent’s belief in the life teaching of the Church. My dad told me once that he never imagined he and my mom would have so many children, “but that’s what God gave us, and I couldn’t imagine which one of you children I would live without.”

When the Planned Parenthood clinic set up shop in our neighborhood my parents, along with many others, organized to express their beliefs. They organized regular, peaceful picketing outside the clinic and took their turn walking the line. At my mom’s encouragement and with her support, I served as the contact at my high school to organize times for students to picket. My parents gave their time, their talent and their treasure to this most important cause — and continue to do so to this day.

Choosing life in the face of an unexpected pregnancy is not easy. After having nine children of her own, nobody understood the challenges and struggles of parenting better than my mom, and she recognized the brave choice these teens were making. She also recognized that their brave choice needed to be supported. So, she created a program —Share-A-Life — that provides housing, emotional support and professional counseling for young women who choose life. It was a natural expression of her values. Our home became the first to provide housing to a young woman in need because of an unexpected pregnancy. There were several young women who lived with my parents over the years. All of them chose life. Some placed their baby for adoption, some chose to raise their child. Many of them still keep in touch.