Scout’s Honor

Deacon does ‘grunt work’ distributing prayer cards for life


Deacon Jim Stahlnecker is a “do-it-yourselfer.” So, when he learned about an impending national prayer for life campaign launched by Archbishop Dolan with the Knights of Columbus and the Sisters of Life in May that would utilize specially created prayer cards, he ordered 6,000.

Since then, he’s already dispensed more than 6,000 of the “On Our Knees” cards, which he ordered from the Knights of Columbus at a cost of $3 per hundred, to 15 churches on Staten Island. The goal is to get the prayer cards into the hands of virtually every Staten Island Catholic. A Spanish language card will be available for distribution by the end of the year.

“I feel very strongly about the need for prayer,” said Deacon Stahlnecker, who is active on the Staten Island Vicariate’s Respect Life Committee and serves on the board of the Cross Road Foundation, a Staten Island pro-life organization. “I first got the idea when Sister Lucy Marie of the Sisters of Life spoke to us about it at a vicariate meeting of the Respect Life Committee in the spring.

“Pastors are very busy, so I set it up that they’d have to do as little work as possible,” he said. “I decided that me taking care of the grunt work was the way to go. ”

He established a distribution network using contacts he has made in Staten Island parishes through his pro-life work. He prepared a short presentation to be read at Mass following Communion. The statement explains the campaign goals succinctly: “Through prayer we believe that the ‘power from on high will break down walls of lies and deceit’ and transform our culture.” After the presentation and prayer, parishioners are invited to take home the cards and continue praying daily.

“My game plan was to get the key people in the parishes behind it,” he explained. “They report back to me. I follow up with everyone. The success of the prayer for life campaign is due to the great cooperation between the Knights of Columbus, the Legion of Mary and the Respect Life Committee. It’s a great way for people to work together.”

On Oct. 10, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts distributed some 1,100 cards at Sunday Masses at St. Clare’s parish in Great Kills.

“In my mind’s eye I kept seeing children giving out the prayer cards,” said Gloria Gadzinski, director of volunteers for the Cross Road Foundation and a St. Clare’s parishioner who is coordinating the card distribution there. “I approached our Scout leaders and they were very interested to do this. It seemed natural. Look into a child’s eyes and you can’t help but know what our cause is all about.”

“Literally, thousands of cards have been given out already. But it’s a work in progress,” Deacon Stahlnecker told CNY. “I plan to make this a whole year’s work. For me it’s a labor of love. This is my vocation.”