Born and raised in East Texas, Shawn Carney had always thought he would be in the ministry one day. But the 2001 graduate of Bishop TK Gorman High School never saw himself at the forefront of one of the most controversial issues of our time.
"Actually all through high school I wanted to be a priest. And when I decided not to do that and go to Texas A&M University I got very involved with a local pro-life organization there," remembers Coalition for Life Director Shawn Carney. "And I remember my girlfriend now wife taking me out to pray at the local Planned Parenthood there when they were doing abortions. And it was a very powerful experience for me."
So much so Shawn would abandoned the idea of becoming an attorney and would eventually become director of Coalition for Life. A pro-life organization in Bryan-College Station.
“I remember thinking abortion was something politicians talked about or something in a courthouse somewhere and that day it went from something on a ballot to something in the heart. I saw the pain of abortion, not just the arguments for or against abortion,” says Shawn.
One of the first major projects Carney started was a program he called 40 Days for Life. A concentrated peaceful effort of fasting, prayer and counseling outside of abortion clinics. It became so popular that Carney help create a national 40 Days for Life organization that last year reached 139 cities in 43 different states.
"It empowered people on the local level. And it handed the abortion issue over to God, over to Christ. And we know its a baby through DNA and genetics and all that but its also a moral crisis. People often wash their hands clean of it, tagging it as a political issue. And it has a political element. But when you talk to a girl who had an abortion and you ask her what went wrong and she's in tears she never says "her politics.," says Shawn.
Carney took the campaign even further, hosting and producing a nationally broadcast special on 40 Days called ‘Being Human’ that aired in the EWTN Network. It documents what Carney calls the “everyday person” who finds a place in the pro-life movement.
“This is the greatest crisis in our culture and being human simply highlights the people who everyday are standing up for what’s good, what’s true and what’s just and what is true compassion, which is having mercy on the women who believe this is their only option in their life," says Shawn
Already hundreds of cities have signed up to again be part of 40 Days for Life this fall. In addition to coordinating that project Shawn will be asked to speak dozens of times around the country on the issue of abortion as well as continuing his duties in Bryan-College Station.
For this 26 year old East Texans its hard to believe his ministry has grown so big in such a small amount of time. He believes a lot of it has to do with the lessons he learned from the priests at TK Gorman and the power of prayer.
“That inspired me to live for something else and for someone else. And when you grow in your faith like that at such a young age which I was blessed to be able to do it leads you places you thought you would never end up. And that’s where I find myself today and its not by my doing at all. It is completely the guidance of the Holy Spirit because if it were my plan it would have fallen apart long ago. This is something I would love to do my entire life. But it will only be possible if I am praying. Because that is the only thing that will sustain me in something as real as this and something that is so desperately needed in our culture. Our culture is longing for the love of Christ. And abortion is the perfect example of that longing,” says Shawn.