COLORADO SPRINGS. Dr. Pat Castle is the first to acknowledge the progress that the pro-life movement has made over the past 30 years.
“Today, we’ve got more than 4,000 pregnancy help centers in America and less than 700 abortion facilities,” said Castle, who will be the keynote speaker at the Bishop’s Respect Life Dinner Oct. 6. “In 1991, that was about reversed. Each of those (pregnancy help) centers is really important, and we’ve done a better job of communicating that they exist.”
An Air Force Academy graduate and former Colorado Springs resident who currently lives in Papillion, Nebraska, Castle himself has been on the forefront of the pro-life movement for more than 12 years. In 2008 — near the end of his term as head of the Air Force Academy’s chemistry department — he founded LifeRunners, which he calls “the largest pro-life team in the world.” The organization has nearly 17,000 registered teammates in 165 chapters spread across 40 countries. LifeRunners wear “Remember the Unborn” t-shirts and jackets while participating in races and marathons, although members do not need to be runners in order to join. The next major event in which LifeRunners plans to participate is the Indianapolis Half-Marathon in November, he said.
He also regularly engages in sidewalk counseling in front of the abortion facility operated by LeRoy Carhart in Bellevue, Nebraska, which is known for performing late-term abortions.
Yet Castle says more needs to be done, especially in the area of helping those who have been wounded by abortion find healing. And that can only happen if each Christian takes responsibility for it, he said in a recent interview with the Herald.
“All of us need to be educated and willing to act as mini-pregnancy help centers and first responders,” he said. “There’s no greater need in the world right now than healing from abortion. Shouldn’t we be aware that we are equipped in our identity as Christians to allow God to heal through us? That is such a giant step. Imagine how valuable a healing ministry would be for sidewalk counselors; imagine if that was in their training.”
Castle, along with LifeRunners executive assistant Bernadette Costello, will talk about integrating healing ministry into prayer and presence on the sidewalk during a 40 Days for Life Mid-Point Rally and Brown-Bag Lunch on Oct. 7 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Corpus Christi Parish Hall. Those who plan to attend are asked to RSVP to Julie Bailey at email@example.com or 401-578-4471.
“Forty-five percent of clients at abortion clinics are repeat abortions,” Castle said. “Hurt people hurt people, but a healed person is not going back into an abortion facility. This is what we should be doing as a church.”
Christians should model themselves after the Good Samaritan, providing first aid care rather than simply telling those who are wounded where to find help, he said. But having that mindset only comes through prayer and opening oneself up to the Holy Spirit, he said.
“When we start getting in the habit of opening ourselves to the Holy Spirit, then we open ourselves to the supernatural,” Castle said.
In the case of sidewalk counselors, this means praying for each individual before they drive up to the abortion clinic and asking for specific knowledge to identify their pain, he said.
“It’s not natural for us, but can you imagine how that could affect a woman’s heart? Now she wants to listen to you,” Castle said. “Christ used miracles to drawn people in. Once he had people’s attention, he gave them the Good News. It reminds me of how God the Father must relate to us. We need to keep reminding ourselves that women coming into an abortion facility are someone’s children.”
During his stay in Colorado Springs, Castle will also be giving a presentation to the Savio Teens group at St. Peter Parish in Monument on Oct. 5 at 7:10 p.m.
Castle still has a strong connection to Colorado Springs, having recently dropped off his daughter at the Air Force Academy to begin her studies.
“It makes the place look very different,” he said. “I have great concern for the U.S. Air Force Academy. As I look at it through the lens of a father, my compassion has never been greater for the institution.”
Castle said he wants to remind people interested in joining the LifeRunners apostolate that running is optional. The only requirement is to wear the “Remember the Unborn” t-shirt or jacket. For more information, visit www.liferunners.org.