TIRANA, Albania — Because of the devastation wrought by abortion-on-demand in Europe, Austria-based HLI Helpers has had to blaze trails in its efforts to build a Culture of Life. One of the nations hardest hit by the Culture of Death has been Albania, where several key people have been instrumental in raising awareness that all human life is invaluable.
Majlinda Gjoni, a physician who attended HLI’s 2010 Pro-Life World Prayer Congress in Rome, conspired with Monsignor Phillip Reilly, the founder of the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, to present the first pro-life conference in Tirana, Albania in May 2012.
Soon after, amazing things began to happen: During Monsignor Reilly next visit to Lezha, his riveting speech on pro-life issues, which was intended for consecrated and lay people, actually ended up being attended by many doctors and nurses from the local maternity hospital where abortions are performed.
With Dr. Gjoni’s assistance, HLI Helpers soon organized regularly scheduled monthly prayer vigils and offered daily prayers for the intention of closing the local abortion center. To this day they continue to pray in front of the abortion centers, at weekly Mass, and in front of the Blessed Sacrament during adoration. All these efforts have led to countless mothers who had considered abortion when overwhelmed by circumstances, yet they changed their minds and accepted the precious life growing within their wombs!
“We thank God for all the miracles that have happened during these five years after HLI’s Joannes Bucher visited Albania for the first time,” Dr. Gjoni said. “May God’s merciful love and the intercession of Our Mother Mary work wonderful changes in the hearts of all those involved in abortion — and may all the saved babies bear witness to the victory of life over death in our beautiful Albania.”
The latest Albanian victory occurred last year when the first pro-life crisis pregnancy center opened in Tirana. According to local pro-lifers, the center is Albania’s new “place of hope,” offering free ultrasounds and counseling sessions to pregnant women. HLI’s pro-life materials have been a crucial component of the center’s educational outreach to share the pro-life message. With experienced couples teaching natural family planning, Albanians how have access to the only pro-life alternative to artificial means of contraceptives and in vitro fertilization. Classes have expanded to local schools and parishes to reach the youth on reproduction issues and contraceptives. The next objective is for the center to reach out to those in need of healing after abortion, as many women and men suffer post-abortion trauma and are afflicted with guilt and pain.
Another pro-life partner, Kimete Klenja, has been active in Lezha since 2011. Her efforts led to pro-life prayer vigils five days per week at the maternity hospital where unborn children are aborted. Amazingly, in February 2013, the hospital gave permission to open a counseling center on site for women who request abortions. More than 20 babies have been saved through this service – and almost all saved babies are living with their mothers. Some have been adopted, and one was reunited with the mother after ten months in the orphanage.
The media has publicized these local prayer vigils which are scheduled four times a year. Over 600 people participated in two rallies combined so far; both were headed by the bishop of the diocese of Lezha, Monsignor Ottavio Vitale. These vigils and daily prayers at the maternity hospital are a witness to the truth of Christ and to His comfort and mercy for those with troubled hearts. I was privileged to participate in the most recent vigil in December, where I spoke about the importance of prayer in achieving success in the fight to save babies – and the culture.
Klenja’s fruitful efforts also led to the 2013 opening of Caritas Lezha, a shelter-house for women and children at risk of abortion. Mothers are not only given material help but spiritual guidance against the evils of abortion. What better way to embrace the Culture of Life than through God’s saving grace, through which the actions of many pro-life faithful save babies and souls!
“With hope in Divine Providence, we hope to continue this service in the future. Four women have stayed in this house and five babies were born and raised in their first months of life here. We will not stop showing the mercy of Jesus Christ,” Kimete said.