Venice | The idea of bringing the local pro-life community together for lunch to listen to speakers once each month was the brainchild of two friends, Janine Marrone and Kathie Majerchin, who were energized by the Holy Spirit.
“Everything that has happened since I met Kathie and started Luncheons 4 Life has been an action of the Holy Spirit,” said Marrone, who co-founded Luncheons 4 Life, and is assisted by many good people in the tri-county areas of Sarasota, Lee and Collier counties within the Diocese of the Venice. The luncheons are also held in Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta, and Alton, Illinois, bringing like-minded supporters of life together, without politics and with no cost or “ask” at the end.
Majerchin, who died of cancer in 2016 immediately following an out-loud reading of the Litany of Saints for Souls in Purgatory in her hospital room by Marrone, worked at SOLVE Maternity Homes in Sarasota, and had a passion for life.
The pair met in 2012 and became fast friends who appeared to be on a mission from God: to gather the pro-life community for a fellowship meal on the surface, but the intent started changing hearts and minds with respect to life and is fully funded by the generosity of Marrone and her husband, Steve.
The Marrones, who worked in business in Delaware before retiring to the Venice area in 2006, were fallen-away Catholics who found themselves at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice listening to a missionary talk about faith. They happened to pick up “The Word Among Us” following the event, which is where Janine Marrone read an article about Luncheons 4 Life thriving in New Orleans.
“I forgot about the article for a while, but when I met Kathie, I knew there was more that needed to be done,” Marrone said.
Luncheons 4 Life is currently held at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice, monthly, drawing 100-plus people at its peak. Marrone said the recent expansion into Lee and Collier counties is paying off, especially after an employee of the lunch venue overheard the discussion and wanted to talk about obtaining healing following an abortion.
“We do not know who is listening at these lunches, but it’s working. People are energized. They are reminded that healing is available for them through Project Rachel, a post-abortive healing program through the Diocese of Venice, and they are supporting a culture of life, without politics,” Marrone said.
Jeanne Berdeaux, Diocese of Venice Respect Life Director, said Luncheons 4 Life reinvigorated the pro-life movement in the Diocese. “Getting like-minded people together on a regular basis for fellowship and networking creates a contagious enthusiasm that is visible and audible,” Berdeaux explained. “At the end of the luncheon is time for sharing; there is a whirlwind of activity as people talk with others who are there, sharing ideas and planning for the future. It’s been a wonderful blessing to have it in our Diocese for the past five years, and now that it’s being offered in Fort Myers and Naples, we are triply blessed.”
It is hoped that Luncheons 4 Life will encourage other like-minded philanthropists to absorb the same Holy Spirit energy and unite to create similar events across the country.
“I’m so excited because it’s like Christmas Day — not knowing what to expect yet expecting something good,” Marrone said. “God just wants us to cooperate with Him, and He will not disappoint.”
Not believing in accidents, Marrone has faith that following Majerchin’s death she is interceding to foster the growth of Luncheons 4 Life, saying the events are busier than ever.
“Our faith grew so much together when she was alive, especially during the pope’s Holy Year of Mercy. We took pilgrimages to many Holy Doors at various Cathedrals, but she died before the closing of the year. It’s not a coincidence that her memorial service was held on the very last day of the Year of Mercy,” Marrone said.