Mary Wagner: Spiritual Mother par excellence

mary wagnerCommentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

She’s a pro-life hero who is presently languishing in a maximum security prison in Canada for violating a “bubble zone” law in Canada but instead of being bitter, she’s spending her time ministering to female prisoners who have been wounded by abortion.

Writing for Aleteia, Susan E. Wills reports on the story of Mary Wagner, 40, who was imprisoned on Christmas Eve for entering an abortion clinic on December 23 and handing women a rose with a card stating where they could learn about abortion alternatives. She is currently being held in the Vanier Centre for Women in Milton, Ontario which is a medium-maximum security correctional facility.

This isn’t Mary’s first time in prison, however. In June of 2014 she was released after spending two years behind bars for the same “crime” of offering alternatives to women who were about to undergo abortions. Although she had a chance to be set free on bail, she refused in conscience because one of the bail conditions required her to agree to stay away from abortion clinics. This champion of life, who was inspired to fight for life while hearing Pope John Paul II speak in Denver in 1993, simply couldn’t agree to those terms. Saving babies was in her blood.

wagner jailAnd so this quiet, unassuming and devout Catholic woman who once thought she had a vocation to the cloister sat in jail and spent her time ministering to women who had had abortions.

Speaking to LifeSiteNews upon her release last year, she estimated that nearly 80 percent of the women she met in prison had undergone an abortion. Of these women, 90 percent confessed regret.

Her days in jail were difficult, but were also fruitful in many ways, she said, “because a lot of people there are hungry for God and are looking to reach out to Him. I was constantly meeting women wounded by abortion and encouraging them to seek the mercy of God.”

As a result, her time behind bars became “an opportunity for the Holy Spirit really to be at work in hearts that are broken, seeking and are open to God. So quite easily, prayer groups formed and people asked why I was there, why I was in jail. Immediately, I had the chance to share the truth about the wound of abortion.”

When she was freed in June, one of the first things she did was ask for help for her fellow prisoners.

“I would love to see more of a connection between the outside world and the inside world for women who are hurting,” she said at the time. “Maybe just by penpals or visits and that, because a lot of them don’t have connections with somebody in their lives anymore.”

mary wager polandLittle did she know that just six months later she would be back in Milton tending to these women herself.

This could be, at least in part, due to how tired Canadian judges are getting of Mary Wagner. Aleteia reports that Canadian judges are becoming increasingly hostile toward this gentle warrior who refuses to stop drawing attention to the humanity of the unborn. For instance, during one of her trials, a furious judge proclaimed, “You’re wrong, and your God is wrong!”

Meanwhile, the Canadian press has been largely silent about her peaceful pro-life witness and imprisonments which now total over three years of her young life. But this no surprise to anyone. The only way Mary Wagner’s powerful public witness would make it into the headlines is if she lobbed a grenade into the clinic or took a shot at an abortionist. Mary is too peaceful, too Christ-like, too committed to the women and children she’s try to save. Putting her on the front page would make pro-lifers look too good.

While few people have ever heard of her in the U.S. and Canada (I didn’t hear about her until a Woman of Grace brought her to my attention), she’s treated like a rock star in Poland. She toured the country after her release from jail last summer and was met with huge crowds wherever she went.

Mary’s sister Sarah kept track of her tour in Poland on Facebook and wrote: “These photos and videos make me so proud of the Polish people… I wish Mary could stay there and be among so many loving friends!! In Poland she is greeted with roses and love. At home in Canada she is greeted with handcuffs. Thank you for welcoming my sister.”

When she saw so many people attending meetings with her sister, Sarah said, “Mary is a spiritual mother to so many…”

The country was so impressed with her that Polish filmmaker, Grzegorz Braun, produced a documentary entitled Not About Mary Wagner which is scheduled to be shown in the U.S. and Canada next month. The film is about Mary as well as the laws that protect the killing of babies up to the ninth month but punish innocent protesters like Mary.

“It’s about a society that is collectively in denial about what happens during and after abortion, that wants only to change the subject and never think about it,” Wills writes. “And it’s about the cowardice of all of us who know full well that human children are torn limb from limb in these ‘women’s centers’ and we do precious little about it.”

Mary’s next hearing is set for February 4.

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