By Tanya Connor
WORCESTER – A local Catholic who once checked for aborted babies’ body parts said that people could seek the intercession of Audrey Santo for people like her.
Catherine Adair, a former Planned Parenthood worker, spoke Aug. 8 at the first fundraising dinner to “Help Canonize an American Saint.” Pro-life and Divine Mercy messages were proclaimed there.
The dinner was held at Christ the King Parish, Audrey’s parish during her short life, to raise money for her canonization cause. Audrey’s sister Jennifer Baker organized the fundraiser with help from Little Audrey Santo Foundation volunteers and others, she said.
Speakers were Mrs. Adair and Bryan Thatcher, founder and director of Eucharistic Apostles of Divine Mercy. Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Marty Rotella sang and emceed.
Recent undercover videos showing the procurement of aborted babies’ tissue and organs at Planned Parenthood facilities show workers with a sense of callousness. Mrs. Adair connected her past with that kind of attitude. She said that at one time she wouldn’t have seen any value in Audrey’s life.
Three-year-old Audrey Santo fell into her family’s pool on Aug. 9, 1987, ended up in a non-moving, non-speaking state, was cared for at home for 20 years and died April 14, 2007.
Dr. Thatcher’s family experienced a similar situation: When his son John Paul was 15-months old, he was found floating in their pool, thought to be dead. The outcome was quite different.
He said he prayed “Jesus, I trust in you.” John Paul came home from the hospital totally fine. While that was a blessing, Dr. Thatcher said, it’s not the outcome that’s important; it’s the trust.
Over the years, annual events for the anniversary of Audrey’s accident drew hundreds of people to see her at her parish and South Flagg Street home. Some considered her a “victim soul” who suffered for others; some claimed her prayers brought healing.
In her home consecrated Hosts and religious objects have been said to ooze blood and oil. One of the Hosts is in her room, one in her chapel, and Bishop McManus has five others, according to Audrey’s mother, Linda Santo.
Deacon Anthony R. Surozenski, vice postulator of Audrey’s cause and director of the diocesan Office of the Diaconate, said documentation of reported miracles attributed to Audrey’s intercession have been given to Bishop McManus. He said supporters hope the bishop will sign the paperwork asking the Vatican to officially open the cause for her to be named a Servant of God.
“We want to make sure we keep in line with the Magisterium,” Mrs. Baker said.
She said the fundraiser drew 128 people from Massachusetts and neighboring states.
Deacon William S. Shea, foundation treasurer, said the event raised about $9,000.
Dr. Thatcher told The Catholic Free Press he never met Audrey, but read about her. He met her family and saw the Hosts for the first time Aug. 7.
“Their whole life is focused on God,” he said, though they have struggles like all families.
“The holiness of Little Audrey, the sufferings I couldn’t imagine,” he said in his talk for the fundraiser. “We need more Catholic lay saints. … Let us help this family in their efforts.”
A retired gastroenterologist who recounted Divine Mercy messages and eucharistic miracle stories in his talk, Dr. Thatcher said he’d read reports of human blood on the Hosts at Audrey’s house.
“I think it’s mystical theology,” he told The Catholic Free Press. “We don’t understand it. To me it’s just a confirmation that God is alive.”
Mrs. Adair, who worships with her family at St. Benedict Center in Still River and sends her children to Immaculate Heart of Mary School there, also proclaimed that message.
She said she got pregnant at age 19.
“A baby! Wow!” she thought happily. An unmarried college student, she then wondered how to tell her mother. But her mother’s solution was abortion.
Before she knew it, she was in an abortion clinic and awoke to find “my baby was gone.” She cried.
“I felt so empty inside,” she said. “I feel like a piece of my soul died that day.”
Afterward her mother took her to lunch and they never talked about the experience.
Mrs. Adair majored in women’s studies and worked at Planned Parenthood in Boston, where one of her jobs was looking for “all the pieces” after abortions.
“All these pieces of the baby are poured into a bag” called P.O.C. for “product of conception,” she said, but “we used to joke around and call them ‘pieces of children.’
“The videos that have come out about Planned Parenthood … that’s me saying, ‘Oh yeah, if the woman’s really upset on the table we might not get an intact fetus,’” she said of attempts to harvest fetal organs. She said she would have considered it good to use fetal body parts for medical research because it would help people.
But now she says there’s a smell in abortion clinics – the smell of evil.
Noticing the beauty of a baby’s feet and hands one day, she was “shocked that these arms and legs had just been torn from a human being,” she said.
She considered herself pro-woman, not “one of those crazy people on the sidewalk with their rosaries.” But the lie had been exposed, she said.
Eventually she left the job and married the father of her aborted child, she said. She and her husband were fallen away Catholics, and she didn’t want to go to a Catholic church, but found peace when they did, she said.
God showed her, “his mercy is even for people like me … even for people in those videos,” she said.
Mrs. Adair begged listeners to pray for abortion clinic workers and added, “We can ask Audrey for her intercession.”