The opening and blessing was witnessed by a capacity crowd of enthusiastic supporters. Approximately 50 adults and 15 children were present, twice the number that the Centre had seats for.
Frank Fischer, the Co-ordinator for the Dunedin John Paul II Centre for Life, started the afternoon by introducing himself, and his background in biomedical research.
The Centre is blessed with wonderful volunteers and they were introduced to the crowd, with a few words about what each of them are doing for the cause of life.
Dame Colleen Bayer, the Founder and National Director of Family Life International NZ talked about the work of saving babies from abortion and the role that the John Paul II Centres for Life have in this life saving work.
During her address, Dame Colleen mentioned a few of the recent babies saved, and the assistance required. Several of these mothers were visiting New Zealand for work or study at the time of becoming pregnant. Colleen told how Family Life International paid their medical costs of delivery through the Auckland and Wellington John Paul II Centres for Life. This amounted to thousands of dollars, a necessary expense as there is no other source of assistance available for these mums.
Dame Colleen also mentioned that each mum was different in their needs. Some mums that approached the Centres only needed to talk to someone, but many required ongoing and practical assistance.
Before he commenced the blessing, Bishop Colin Campbell expressed his enthusiasm for the Centre, and for pro-life work in general.
He reminded the crowd of the struggle to oppose the licence to perform abortions at Dunedin Hospital in the late 1980’s, and the more recent struggle over the abortions at Southland Hospital. He paid tribute to the work that Voice for Life, Pregnancy Counselling and Pregnancy Help have done over the years.
Bishop Campbell expressed his concern that the Catholic Church has been criticised for opposing abortion, but not doing anything practical for mums and families in need, but now there was a Centre in Dunedin which provides for any possible assistance. He then blessed the Centre.
Almost the entire crowd remained behind for afternoon tea, taking the opportunity to talk to
Bishop Colin, Colleen Bayer, Frank Fischer, and the volunteers at the Centre.
There are now three of Family Life International NZ’s John Paul II Centres for Life throughout the country. The Dunedin Centre adds to the two existing Centres, in Auckland and Wellington.
Family Life International NZ’s John Paul II Centres for Life provide a physical place where mothers and families facing a crisis pregnancy can come for practical help, support and friendship; so that they may give choose life for their babies. This offer of support is also extended to the sick, disabled, lonely and those who may find themselves targets of euthanasia-type practices. The Centres are also a hub for prayer, education and research on life and family issues.