By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

AVE MARIA, Florida, April 1, 2009 ( – On the fourth anniversary of Terri Schiavo’s death by court-ordered dehydration, Priests for Life and Terri’s Foundation observed an “International Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Terri Schindler Schiavo, and All of Our Vulnerable Brothers and Sisters” (“Terri’s Day”). The day was commemorated with a special Mass at the Ave Maria Oratory on the campus of Ave Maria University.

The two organizations established the day last year with the intention of fostering education, prayer, and activism regarding discrimination against the disabled, and advocacy for people in situations similar to what Terri and her family faced.

Terri died on March 31, 2005, after her feeding tube was removed at the request of her estranged husband, Michael.

Suzanne Vitadamo, Terri’s sister, and Bobby Schindler, her brother, stated on behalf of the family, “Sadly, our recent headlines are a clear indication that what happened to Terri is only getting worse. We are seeing that many of our institutions caring for our most vulnerable are being encouraged to devalue the sanctity of human life. Indeed, this is influenced by a very strong pro-death movement continuing to work very hard to legitimize euthanasia and assisted suicide.”

The Mass was celebrated by Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life and Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, President of Human Life International, and attended by family, friends and supporters who filled the Ave Maria Oratory to capacity.

“She wasn’t at the end of her life, that is the point,” Fr. Pavone said. “She was disabled. Some people thought her life wasn’t worth living, and they killed her. We will resolve as a result to work harder to build a culture that respects each and every life no matter what its condition.”

In a press release announcing the memorial Mass for Terri, Fr. Pavone said, “Those of us who were with Terri will never forget her life and her death. For the sake of all the vulnerable, it is critically important that those who never knew Terri likewise remember the lessons that God taught us through her.”

Suzanne Vitadamo added, “No family should ever have to witness what my family witnessed, watching a loved one slowly dehydrate to death. We want Terri’s day to remind us all that persons with disabilities are never burdens and should be treated with nothing but our unconditional love and compassion.”

For more information on Terri’s Day please visit the Priests For Life website:

Related coverage:

Terri’s Day Announced – March 31 – Groups Call for Special Remembrances of Terri Schiavo

Terri Schindler Schiavo Family asks for Prayers and Outreach in Remembrance