As a pilot with the United States Army Air Corps, Michael Mombrea Sr. began his adult life training fighter pilots to fly missions over Europe during World War II. In the twilight of his life, this 96-year-old continues to fight on a battleground of a different kind; the fight to save the unborn.
Every Saturday morning, Mombrea spends hours peacefully demonstrating across from a clinic at 2500 Main Street in Buffalo, or in front of what he calls a "killing center" in Florida, where he spends the winters. He says he does it because he knows Jesus loves unborn babies and their mothers.
"I never condemn or judge or criticize a woman who is having an abortion because I'm sure that they get all kinds of pressure and they're very confused," said Mombrea, who recalled one particular woman who he met outside a clinic a few years ago. She told him she had an abortion and he told her the Lord would forgive her. "She is very sorry for the abortion. She is now very pro-life, and she told me there isn't a day that goes by that she doesn't hurt because of killing her child."
For the past 24 years, Mombrea has worn a pin on his shirt collar depicting the actual size of the feet of a 10-week old fetus. "Whenever I see a pregnant woman in a supermarket, I tell them 'I pray you'll have a healthy baby without complications. Thank you for choosing life." He has given away 200 pins to various women in addition to cards detailing their pregnancy from conception until birth.
His mission began in 1992, when an organizer of Operation Rescue asked Mombrea to help videotape what were known as the "Spring of Life" demonstrations in Buffalo. Mombrea, who had spent 32 years as a videographer for WIVB-TV, and is a Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame inductee, agreed to volunteer his time to do it. In later years, his video from outside a Florida clinic was used in court to help exonerate a pro-life demonstrator. "I've had several things happen which were very, very satisfying in trying to defend the unborn," said Mombrea.
Mombrea can remember one particular day outside Buffalo's Main Street clinic when he was holding a sign that reads, "Pro-Choice. That's a lie. Babies don't choose to die." "We were praying outside the facility, and this young couple went in and they saw our signs. They changed their mind they came out and said, 'We're not going to kill our baby.' I'm sure that happens, not too often, but it still happens."
A few years ago, Mombrea lost his beloved wife, Fay. Together they had six children and he now has 15 grandchildren plus 24 great-grandchildren. Some of them have taken his lead to become "prayer warriors" at this month's annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. This year, he is sending two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren to the march. "I've done this for the past five years. I pay their way, and I'm not looking for any credit but, to me, that is very fulfilling to know that even though I can't be there in person, I have these beautiful parts of my family demonstrating for the unborn."
Mombrea is hopeful that Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 United States Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion, might someday be overturned. "Everybody says it's not going to happen, but I'm convinced it could happen."
Rosary Novena for Life is a regularly scheduled Mass at St. Rose of Lima Parish, 500 Parker Ave., Buffalo. The 8 a.m. Saturday Mass will be followed by a silent and prayerful procession to and from a local abortion clinic where participants join together in prayer. Closing prayers will take place upon our return outside of St. Rose of Lima. Respect Life committees, youth groups and parish ministers are especially encouraged to join us to show their support for the sanctity of life.
For more information, call the Office of Pro-Life Activties at 716-847-2205 or visit www.buffalodiocese.org/pro-life.