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Abortion survivor calls for love, compassion and forgiveness

COLUMBIA—The best way to learn the true horror of abortion is to listen to the story of someone who has survived one.

Melissa Ohden is an abortion survivor.

In 1977, she survived a botched saline infusion abortion and was delivered alive at a hospital in Sioux City, Iowa. Today, her life’s mission is to tell her story to people in every corner of the world in an attempt to bring an end to abortion once and for all.

Ohden brought her painful but triumphant message to hundreds in Columbia on Jan. 9-10 during the “Proudly Pro-life Weekend,” which included a dinner at Seawell’s on Rosewood Drive and the annual Stand up for Life March and Rally.

People of all ages braved freezing temperatures and brisk breezes to make the annual march from the University of South Carolina campus to the steps of the Statehouse, where they clustered together, many holding banners and signs with pro-life messages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The crowd included hundreds of Catholics, including many Knights of Columbus and about 600 young people, many of whom later attended the annual youth pro-life rally at the Township Auditorium. Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone took part in the march and offered the opening prayer at the rally.

Everyone became silent when Ohden stepped up to the podium to tell her story.

The details are stark and heartbreaking. Her mother, a college student, hid her pregnancy from her family until the seventh month, and felt forced by them to undergo the procedure. Ohden’s own biological grandmother, then a nurse with a prominent standing in the community, was adamant that her daughter end the pregnancy.

The saline infusion method, which is no longer in use, was particularly horrific, because it involved injecting a toxic saline solution into a woman’s womb and then allowing the unborn days. Ohden said while most babies suffered through three days in the womb before death, she suffered for five days before her mother went into labor and she was born alive.

Nurses at the hospital prevented her from being left to die, she said, and she was eventually adopted by a loving family. Although doctors predicted she would have many health problems, she came through the ordeal without any.

Ohden didn’t learn about what happened to her until many years later, when her own sister was facing an unplanned pregnancy. Then, she said, her parents decided to tell her.

“When I first found out about the circumstances of my birth, I was angry,” she said. “It was the biggest blow I ever could have felt. I couldn’t understand how anyone could make that decision to kill their child. But then I realized I have nothing to be angry about. I was given the gift of life, I was given the gift of my family, and I was born perfectly healthy and whole, praise God.”

She went on to earn a degree in social work and has worked as a counselor and advocate for victims of domestic violence and the mentally ill, among other fields. She is married and has two daughters. To show how life often comes full circle, Ohden said that the oldest, Olivia, was born at the same Iowa hospital where the failed abortion took place.

She spent many painstaking hours over the years trying to locate her biological family. She is in touch with her mother, but the two have not met yet, and she and her children have met her father’s parents.

Ohden said one of the most difficult things she learned was that her birth mother thought for more than 30 years that her child had died. It wasn’t until Ohden contacted her that she realized her daughter had been alive all those years.

She said the most important thing she wants her biological parents and family members to know is that she loves them and forgives them for the terrible events that took place 37 years ago.

“I was given my life for a very particular reason,” she said. “Each and every one of us are gifted in certain ways, are given different ways to share the precious gift of life. Any anger I felt toward my family quickly subsided to grief for men and women who feel forced to make the painful decision of abortion. Everything I do is about love, because love ultimately wins at the end of each day. Forgiveness is a deliberate decision you make, and it has set me free.”

She urged the crowd to make sure that love and compassion remain at the center of all their pro-life work, and that they especially make an effort to reach out to women who have had an abortion and are suffering pain and desperation because of it.

“My mother is undergoing some healing that comes from the fact that she knows her child is alive,” she said. “We need to remember women like her are why we do what we do, because so many people are in pain and need to be healed from abortion.”

 

People & events

COASTAL

Santo Niño Fiesta
NORTH CHARLESTON—The Cofradia del Santo Niño de Cebu will hold a fiesta in honor of Baby Jesus on Jan. 17 at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, 6650 Dorchester Road. Rosary will start at 10 a.m. followed by Mass, procession and a reception. Details: Joy Kabaitan, (843) 452-4195 or Thelma Delacruz, (843) 743-5363.

SCCCW deanery meeting
CHARLESTON—St. Patrick Church women’s guild will host the SCCCW Coastal Deanery annual meeting on Jan. 18 at 12:30 p.m. at Figaro hall, 134 St. Philip St. Cost: $25. Call Beverly Buford, (843) 723-6066.

OLM Outreach auction fundraiser
CHARLESTON—Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach will host its Sharing Blessings Changing Lives Auction on Jan. 25 from 1-4 p.m. at the Charleston Marriott Hotel, 170 N. Lockwood Blvd. Tickets: $100, include a silent auction, cocktails, dinner and live auction. Items include stays at vacation properties in Ireland, New Zealand, and Italy; Charleston Harbor Cruise; a painting by artist Rick Reinert, and more. Tickets: Jennifer Meshanko, (843) 559-4109 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Movies and Scripture
CHARLESTON—Pauline Books and Media sponsors Cinema Divina: Film, Scripture & Classic Wisdom, a combination of scripture reading and movies held monthly at 243 King St. Free, donations welcome. Bring a bagged meal, or a snack to share. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. Finish at 10 p.m. Coming up: “Last Holiday” on Jan. 28, Acts 12, and Teresa of Avila. Details: (843) 577-3344.

Oyster roast and barbecue
JAMES ISLAND—Nativity Church ladies guild and Knights of Columbus Council 6250 will hold an oyster roast and barbecue Feb. 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the school hall, 1061 Folly Road. Advance tickets are $15 for oysters or $20 at the door, and $10 for barbecue or $12 at the door. Available after Masses.

LOWCOUNTRY

‘Spirituality and Technology’
RIDGELAND—The Lowcountry Deanery of the SCCCW will hold a colloquium on “Spirituality and Technology” led by Sister Susan Pontz, SSCM, on Feb. 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St. John Paul II High School, 4211 North Okatie Highway. She is director of informational technology at the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas. Tickets: $15, include lunch. Limit 125 people. Call Phyllis Atkins, (843) 757-4007.

MIDLANDS

St. Peter School info session
COLUMBIA—St. Peter School will hold 60-minute info sessions for parents on Jan. 22 at 12:15 p.m. and Feb. 4 at 6:30 p.m. with Kathy Preston, principal, at Cardinal Bernardin Center, 1529 Assembly St. Registration: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (803) 779-0036. Visit www.StPetersCatholicSchool.org.

LARCUM prayer service
COLUMBIA—The annual LARCUM prayer service will be held Jan. 25 at 4 p.m. at College Place United Methodist Church, 4801 Colonial Drive. A reception will follow. Details: Missie Walker, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

St. Peter alumni reception
COLUMBIA—St. Peter School will host its Alumni & Friends Reception on Jan. 27 from 6-8 p.m. at the Cardinal Bernardin Center, 1529 Assembly St. Speaker: Brad Muller, Catholic school alumnus and radio voice of the Lady Gamecocks. Cost: $12. Alumni of the Year award will be presented. Pay at the door or contact Marilyn Montgomery, (803) 957-1431 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Marriage celebration
COLUMBIA—The 15th annual Diocesan Marriage Celebration sponsored by the Office of Family Life will be held Feb. 15 at 3 p.m. at St. Peter Church, 1529 Assembly St., with Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone. Register by contacting the Family Life Office, (803) 547-5063 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

PEE DEE

Prayer Vigil for Life
NORTH MYRTLE BEACH—The Grand Strand Citizens for Life annual interdenominational Prayer Vigil for Life will be held on Jan. 23 at 7:15 p.m. at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church. Pastors from six churches will lead prayers. Refreshments will be served. Details: www.makethelifechoice.org or John Kost, (843) 626-8684.

Kindness talk
MYRTLE BEACH—The SCCCW Pee Dee Deanery will sponsor a talk on “Whatever happened to kindness? Recovering the lost art of being kind” by Sister Sandra Makowski, SSMN, JCL, diocesan chancellor, on Jan. 24 at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, 1100 Eighth Ave. N. Cost: $15. Registration required. Mail name, address, church affiliation and payment by Jan. 19 to Caroline Paulhus, 1407 St. Thomas Circle; Myrtle Beach, SC 29577, (843) 692-9932, or Marlene Grover, 513 13th Ave. N. Surfside Beach, SC 29575, (843) 283-4445.

A Spirituality for Relationships
NORTH MYRTLE BEACH—Father Simeon Gallagher, OFM Cap, will lead a pre-Lenten mission on “A Spirituality for Relationships” for adults on Jan. 26-29 after the 8 a.m. Mass in Our Lady Star of the Sea Church hall or at 6 p.m. in the church located at 1100 Eighth Ave. N. The Sacrament of Reconciliation will follow the Wednesday evening session. Details: (843) 249-2356.

Fundraising auction
PAWLEYS ISLAND—The women’s club at Precious Blood of Christ Church, 1633 Waverly Road, will hold an auction Jan. 22. Preview begins at 5:30 p.m., bidding begins at 6 p.m. Cash or check only. Refreshments available. Proceeds benefit the Tidelands Community Hospice in Georgetown. Details: (843) 651-3966.

PIEDMONT

St. Mary School admissions tests
GREENVILLE—St. Mary School will hold admissions testing in grades K-5 through eighth on Jan. 24 and Feb. 28 at 9 a.m. Applications and registration for testing required. Details: www.stmarysgvl.org, or contact Nelle Palms, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (864) 679-4117.

St. Joseph School open house
ANDERSON—St. Joseph School, located at 1200 Cornelia Road, will hold an open house on Jan. 25 from noon to 3 p.m. for families of prospective students in K-4 through eighth grade. Contact the school: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (864) 760-1619.

Prince of Peace School open house
TAYLORS—Prince of Peace School, a 2014 National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, will have an admissions open house for K-4 through eighth grade on Jan. 25 at 2 p.m. at 1209 Brushy Creek Road. Details: (864) 331-3911 or www.popcatholicschool.org.

‘The Fearsome Pirate Frank’
GREENVILLE—St. Joseph’s Catholic School will present the eighth-grade play, “The Fearsome Pirate Frank”, on Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. at the school. Free. Details: www.sjcatholicschool.org.

Mardi Gras Masquerade Gala
GREENVILLE—St. Mary Church women’s club will hold a Mardi Gras Masquerade Gala on Feb. 14 from 6:30-11 p.m. at the church hall, 111 Hampton Ave. Tickets: $30, includes dinner, music, and costume/mask contests. Visit www.stmarysgvl.org to register. Contact: Pearlie Harris, (864) 288-8996 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Deadline is Feb. 7.

PEOPLE & EVENTS includes items of general interest and events that are open to the statewide community. To send a notice, please include time, date, location address, city and contact email and/or phone number with area code. Items are run at the editor’s discretion and publication or frequency is not guaranteed. Send notices at least three weeks in advance of publication date to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . For details visit www.themiscellany.org and click on submit news.

   

Priestly assignments

CHARLESTON—Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone has made several appointments for priests in the Diocese of Charleston.

Father Marcin Zahuta, chaplain for St. Thomas More Center in Columbia was appointed as pastor, effective Jan. 1:

Father Mark S. Good, in addition to his duties as administrator of St. Mary Church on Yonges Island and Sts. Frederick and Stephen Mission on Edisto Island, SC, was appointed associate director of vocations, effective Jan. 19.

Father Richard B. Tomlinson, formally on loan to the Diocese of Trenton, is appointed parochial vicar at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Taylors, effective Feb. 1.

Father James M. Crowley, Pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes in Greenwood, is appointed Parochial Vicar at St. Francis by the Sea on Hilton Head Island, effective Feb. 2.

Father Timothy D. Tebalt, parochial vicar at Stella Maris Church on Sullivan's Island, is appointed pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes Church with sacramental responsibilities at Leath Correctional Institution, both in Greenwood, effective Feb. 3.

 

   

Food Lion donates to Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach

CHARLESTON--Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach has received $3,000 from the Food Lion Charitable Foundation to help feed local residents.

“We greatly appreciate Food Lion’s gift, which will enable us to better serve families on James, Johns, and Wadmalaw Islands as well as downtown Charleston,” said Jill Jackson Ledford, executive director of the organization.

Funds from this grant will support the outreach's efforts to relieve hunger and food insecurity in our community, as well as provide access to nutrition education information encouraging participants to make healthy food choices for themselves and their families.

Established in 2001, the Food Lion Charitable Foundation provides financial support for programs and organizations dedicated to feeding the hungry in the communities it serves. Since its inception, the foundation has awarded more than $9 million in grants.

 

   

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