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Side by side: Chapel and abortion clinic are unlikely neighbors

While abortion and abortion rights recently have been the focus of high-profile cases in state and federal courts, the issues are being played out in a different manner in a suburban office complex.
by Carla Hinton Published: November 2, 2013

To Krisch: “It is about life and death.”

Oswalt said the idea to open a chapel next to the clinic was based on a situation he knew about in Albuquerque, N.M. He said he prayed about it for several years and eventually tried to lease available space next to the Warr Acres clinic for the house of worship. He said he was told the space was not available for rent or purchase.

But a Christian man found out he wanted to create a chapel and paved the way for the Holy Innocents Foundation to buy the building space, Oswalt said.

The chapel construction costs and furnishings totaled about $750,000, including in-kind and monetary donations, Oswalt said. The house of worship operates on private funds, with no money coming from the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, he said.

Oswalt said the chapel's connection to the archdiocese is through him because he serves as pastor of the National Shrine of the Infant Jesus in Prague and the St. Michael Catholic Church in Meeker.

Mistake or destiny?

Krisch said she and other anti-abortion volunteers are grateful for the chapel's presence. She said it has provided a refuge for some of the women and couples who seek out the services of the nearby clinic.

In two cases, the chapel was mistaken for the clinic by people seeking out the latter, she said.

“I think they get a little emotional, and a lot of them are scared and get confused,” Krisch said.

She said a sign on the chapel door also might have caused the misunderstanding. The sign promises aid for someone who is pregnant and needs help.

Krisch said one couple that mistakenly entered the chapel went to a faith-based pregnancy crisis center nearby, at the recommendation of anti-abortion volunteers. She said the other couple told volunteers they were headed home.

“Actually, it was an answer to prayer,” she said.

As for Oswalt, he said he has served for many years as a “Project Rachel” counselor, providing one-on-one counseling to women seeking spiritual healing after an abortion.

The priest said the chapel has given him a role in the abortion debate that he did not foresee.

“I never thought I'd be on the front lines,” he said.

by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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