HLI Celebrates 20 Years of Viennese Crisis Pregnancy Center

The Genesis of a Crisis Pregnancy Center…and HLI Austria

Twenty years ago, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and one year after HLI Austria’s founding, Human Life International marked the founding of Vienna’s first crisis pregnancy center in Austria. The “Lebenszentrum Wien” (literally “Life Center Vienna”), was the first of many crisis pregnancy centers in Austria that would follow.

L to R: Dietmar Fischer, Founder of HLI Austria, with HLI Director Fr. Shenan J. Boquet

Dietmar Fischer, Founder of Human Life International (HLI) Austria as well as many other pro-life centers, recalled the early days. In February, 1992, he first consecrated all future pro-life work to Jesus through Mary, according to the way of St. Louis of Montfort. Soon afterwards HLI invited Mr. Fischer to its Conference in Ottawa, Canada. There he met HLI Founder, Fr. Paul Marx, and Msgr. Reilly, Founder of “Helpers of God’s Precious Infants.” These men would become highly influential in his life. Following this event, Mr. Fischer’s prayers bore fruit and soon HLI Austria was born.

  • HLI Austria was founded 1993 in Vorarlberg, Austria.
  • 1996 Mr. Fischer moved HLI Vienna’s headquarters to Vienna. There, 21 years ago, the first HLI building was inaugurated.
  • 1997 he invited Msgr. Reilly to Austria for a “Week for Life.” He believed the model created by Msgr. Reilly was the most effective means of counteracting the global evil of abortion. At the same time, staff began daily witnessing to Life in front of Vienna’s largest abortion clinic.
  • Then, 20 years ago, he founded the first “Lebenszentrum” or crisis pregnancy center in Austria.
  • 1998 – 2003 he founded additional centers in Graz, Salzburg and Hohenems.

It All Begins with Prayer

Every center founded has had a chapel devoted to Eucharistic Adoration. Some chapels have been able to host Adoration 24-hours a day for years. Prayer is the basis for all the centers’ pro-life efforts.

Today, thousands of babies have been rescued from abortion through outside the clinics. Eight Austrian cities host monthly prayer vigils and eight abortion clinics have closed. As HLI has stated in the story linked above, prayer makes abortion visible. 

HLI Austria

Dietmar Fischer with HLI Regional Director of Europe, Joannes Bucher

Together, Dietmar Fischer and HLI Regional Director for Europe, Joannes Bucher, head of “Lebenszentrum Salzburg,” have further implemented the Msgr. Reilly model in many countries across Europe, East and West. Since 2002, prayer congresses have been held in places such as Vienna, Krakow, Wigratzbad, Lourdes und Rome.

Both Centers are most grateful to the activists who dedicate themselves to helping the “life centers.” These includes those praying in the chapels, often on their knees day and night, changing hearts and converting souls while rescuing children. The Centers also give thanks to donors, for the concrete funds which keep the wheels turning and are spent on pregnant women in need.

The anniversary was marked by a special Mass, celebrated by Bishop Klaus Küng of the Sankt Pölten Diocese. There and at the reception following, “Lebenszentrum Wien” gave thanks for all graces granted by Our Lord to Austria and entrusted all future battles to the powerful intercession of the Virgin Mary.

Claudia Schneidenbach und Joannes Bucher contributed to this report, which was translated by Deborah Piroch.

About Deborah M. Piroch

Deborah M. Piroch graduated from Mount Holyoke College, the nation’s oldest women’s college, with a double major in German and English Literature. She studied abroad and earned her M.A. in English Literature from Indiana University. Fluent in German, she began her career in international journalism working for Radio Deutsche Welle in Cologne, Germany. Returning to the States after a three-year contract, she worked as arts reporter and producer on prime time shows for WQED-FM in Pittsburgh, then a top 20 market. After another three years, she was hired by EWTN Global Catholic Network as news director, anchor and writer for “Catholic World Today,” but soon transitioned into television. Highlights of her 15 years at EWTN include co-anchoring the U.S. March for Life with Marcus Grodi on more than one occasion, live translating the election of Pope Benedict XVI into German, interviewing two former U.S. Presidential candidates and producing Father Benedict Groeschel’s prime time program from its inception for six years. Named the Network’s first International Production Coordinator, she also proposed, budgeted and executed TV shoots in Scotland, England, Norway, Sweden and Germany. Most recently she served as Director of PR for Human Life International.

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