They pray for babies
Thousands of baby pictures plaster the domed walls of the Chapel of the Unborn. Babies with bottles, babies in bonnets, babies cradled in mothers’ and fathers’ arms.
The chapel, in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn, is a small side room off the main sanctuary of Regina Pacis Catholic Church. Years ago, the space was used as storage for the church snowblower. Now it serves as a holy spot for women who hope to bring pregnancies safely to term.
"It’s simple. It’s quiet. It’s powerful," said Msgr. Ronald Marino, 59, the priest who founded the chapel in 1988. He did so after finding himself unable to persuade a parishioner of the church’s stance that abortion is wrong. Instead of hammering that message, he said, he decided to create a space to celebrate lives of children brought into the world.
Some of the photos are of infants whose parents struggled to conceive. Others are of babies whose mothers had difficult pregnancies. Others are of children whose parents once thought to abort, but ultimately did not.
The steady stream of visitors is largely anonymous, hailing not only from the church’s parish, but from the other boroughs, Long Island and beyond. Marino doesn’t know the bulk of people who come here, but since the chapel has been open, he estimates he’s received close to 5,000 baby snapshots from families who visited. Sometimes, he said, parents will come straight from the hospital and leave the "Welcome, Baby" balloons and flowers they received after a delivery.
A statue of Mary sits in the center of the chapel. Behind her, a stained-glass window portrays angels praying and a newborn Jesus in the manger. In front stands a red-velvet kneeling bench, a thick, black, ledger book and a pen.