Welcome to the Pro-Life Warrior Spotlight!
ProLife365.com offers this unique series of interviews of prominent, pro-life leaders in our nation and our world.
ProLife365.com recently caught up with Rita Diller, the National Director for American Life League (ALL). American Life League remains the nation’s largest grassroots pro-life organization. They have many projects, including STOPP International, Celebrate Life Magazine, and The Pill Kills.
This is an exciting week for ALL, as they are sponsoring a Tweetstorm on June 5th in anticipation of ThePillKills.org National Protest the Pill Day on June 7th. We will address those in the next blog post on Wednesday this week.
Today, Rita Diller fills us in on how her conversion. She went from being “a card-carrying member” of the National Organization of Women (NOW), a feminist, abortion-supporting organization, to the Respect Life Director for the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, to now the National Director of American Life League.
ProLife365.com (Kevin Kukla): What drew you into the pro-life movement initially?
Rita Diller: It was the grace of God poured out through a Catholic priest, a living saint, and pictures of aborted babies that brought me into the pro-life movement.
I was a radical feminist–a card-carrying member of NOW–when I joined the Catholic Church after two devastating losses in my family.
Upon my reception into the Church, Father Berger put me to work right away teaching middle school CCD, even though he knew my neo-feminist leanings. There was, however, a method to his madness.
About two weeks into the class, he asked me to call the Respect Life Director for the diocese and ask her to come speak to the students. To me, that meant I would not have to prepare a lesson plan, so I jumped on it.
Dr. Francette Meaney accepted the invitation to speak, and she changed my life forever that evening in the parish hall of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Portland, Texas. She showed a movie that contained footage of dumpsters full of beautiful, fully-formed, late-term, aborted babies.
I died a million deaths that evening, and I went to her in tears, begging her to use me in stopping the carnage. She put me to work immediately at Birthright, the only pregnancy help center in Corpus Christi at that time.
I came to realize that Francette was indeed a living saint. She taught me everything about abortion and saving babies.
From there, we began praying outside the abortion mills in Corpus Christi. I was onboard with Body of Christ Rescue from its inception and spent countless hours rescuing and doing sidewalk counseling outside the abortion mills.
There I learned so much from Rex Moses, who was working under the direction of Bishop Rene Gracida, an exemplary pro-life bishop, who welcomed Body of Christ Rescue into town and was with us every step of the way.
I have so many warm memories of Bishop Gracida praying on the sidewalk as we blocked the entrances to the mill while we sang “Bind us together, Lord,” giving our sidewalk counselors more time to visit with the women before the police escorted them into the doors–stomping on us as they crashed through the crowds. Our good sheriff James Hickey was there watching out for us, as well, and his wife and many other great pro-life heroes who are still out there working to stop abortion prayed and rescued alongside us.
Body of Christ Rescue birthed the Gabriel Project, and I was blessed to be on its initial board of directors. We gathered many churches throughout town, Catholic and Protestant, who were willing to put the now familiar Gabriel Project signs on their lawns welcoming pregnant mothers in need of help.
The idea was that these women should be able to turn to the Church for help. And the Church should have a program in place so that every member could have an opportunity to reach out to help bring the babies to term. It was a beautiful outreach and became a model that has been repeated in hundreds of areas across the nation.
So you can see, I have been blessed beyond measure since the first day I summoned all my courage to step inside a Catholic rectory, vile sinner that I was, and beg the priest to teach me about the faith.
#2. How did you end up with American Life League, and how long have you been there?
I arrived at American Life League by way of Amarillo. My husband and I left Corpus Christi so that he could attend professional training courses in Amarillo and to be near our extended families. Upon arriving, we realized that there was almost no organized resistance to Planned Parenthood.
On one of our visits, we recruited a local pro-life priest and organized the Texas Panhandle’s first protest of a Planned Parenthood fundraiser. Boy, were they shocked!
When we actually moved to Amarillo a few months later, I collided with the newly-installed bishop, John W. Yanta, in what I like to call a divine appointment that ended very badly for Planned Parenthood.
My husband and a non-Catholic friend of mine had been organizing against Planned Parenthood in Amarillo already, and Bishop Yanta sought me out, eventually asking me to become Respect Life Director for the Diocese.
When Bishop Yanta discovered there were 19 Planned Parenthood facilities operating within the geographical confines of his diocese, he described the situation as “a bishop’s worst nightmare.” He called me in and said, “Rita, what are we going to do about this?”
He and I both had a lot of experience already in fighting Planned Parenthood. He had been praying at Planned Parenthood in San Antonio for quite some time and had actually been arrested for blocking access to the doors of a Planned Parenthood facility.
We knew we would have to play hardball, and we did. At the end of his tenure as bishop, which included 12 years of on-site prayer and community-wide education, only 2 of the 19 facilities remained in operation.
Respect Life Ministries persevered. One of the remaining facilities shut down and the final hold-out disassociated from Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Planned Parenthood could no longer operate in Amarillo because people knew the truth, at long last, about the evil organization.
After Bishop Yanta retired, Jim Sedlak [ALL’s Vice President] called me from American Life League and asked if I would consider a full-time job working to eliminate Planned Parenthood on a national basis. We had worked closely with Jim and STOPP in shutting down the Planned Parenthood facilities in Amarillo so I knew him well.
It took only a few minutes of discernment to know that I was being blessed again by God because I said, “Here I am Lord. Show me what to do to end abortion.”
#3. How would you describe working there at ALL?
Working at American Life League has been another tremendous blessing. Once again I find myself in the midst of living saints as God gives me the grace to stand alongside them and fight Planned Parenthood and the culture of death.
I have held Judie Brown [ALL’s President and co-founder] in esteem for decades, since I received a great deal of my pro-life education from Celebrate Life Magazine—an excellent publication that is still educating thousands today. So it was like a dream come true to actually be asked to join the ALL team and learn again from some of the great minds of the pro-life movement.
One of my favorite things about working as National Director of STOPP is having the opportunity to meet and strategize with pro-life leaders across the nation. Everywhere I travel, I meet with the kindest, most determined, and courageous people in our nation. They put their feet to the floor every day asking Our Lady to guide them, and we see tremendous results. I am blessed beyond measure.
Catch more from Rita Diller later this week, as we look ahead the National Pill Kills Day June 7th, as well as the Tweetstorm on June 5th.
As well, she will describe ALL’s efforts to eradicate Planned Parenthood from our country and our world. We will learn about ALL’s STOPP efforts at the end of this week.
Quite a transformation, don’t you think? Rita Diller went from being a neo-feminist, NOW member to leading national efforts to close Planned Parenthood facilities across the country.
I was encouraged that she helped eliminate so many Planned Parenthood foot holdings in her diocese of Amarillo, and she was impelled to do so by her bishop!
Did anything stand out from Rita Diller’s testimony to you?