In 2008, I was driving in my car, listening to "Catholic Answers Live" on our local Oklahoma Catholic Broadcasting channel, and they were interviewing a priest from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Fr. Stephen Imbarrato. He had a fascinating story of a re-version and a delayed vocation. In addition he was now working in the pro-life ministry, having "built" a brand new ministry in the Archdiocese and housing it in a new building in Albuquerque, right across the street from Planned Parenthood. Fr. Imbarrato said that he and his team were doing all kinds of ministry to save children, and that PP was the only place in New Mexico to get an abortion. He also described a small chapel he had put inside the building, where adoration could occur 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
I was very impressed with this idea and wondered how it all worked and if the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City could ever "pull something like this off?" A couple of years later I emailed Fr. Imbarrato and went out to visit him. I saw the complex – a 3000 square foot building that now had over seven new ministries running in it. I had the privilege of celebrating the Mass in the Holy Innocents’ Chapel, as well as carrying the Most Blessed Sacrament, in procession, over to the abortion mill of PP, and giving an "exorcism" type blessing over the evil that was there. We returned to Project Defending Life, where Benediction concluded.
I left New Mexico, came home very inspired, and with a dream, that perhaps someday we could make this happen. I spent the next two plus years in prayer and contemplation. I asked God if He wanted something like this in our Archdiocese.
In February 2011, the Holy Father gave us a new Archbishop. Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, a priest of Wichita KS, and the bishop of Salina. I had known of his reputation as being very pro-life. He and many priests like him, had been on the front lines in the 1980’s during the "summer of mercy" in assistance with "Operation Rescue" to help get rid of many abortion clinics in Wichita.
Within a few days of him being here, I had the opportunity to drive him to a radio-thon, to be on the air with Oklahoma Catholic Broadcasting, of which I am the chaplain. While driving him back to his residence, I asked if he would like to see some of his diocese. As we drove around that evening, I thought he might like to see the local abortuary. Then the Holy Spirit took control of me and I threw out my idea of having our own Holy Innocents’ Chapel near the abortion mill. I asked if "in theory he would give his permission to allow the Holy Eucharist to be kept in such a chapel?" He said, " In theory yes, he thought it was a good idea." I quickly responded, "wonderful. That is all I need for now. There are lots of "I"s to be dotted and "T"s to be crossed. We concluded our tour and I returned my new chief shepherd back to his residence.
A few weeks later, I invited several pro-life minded people to a meeting for a chat and told them of my idea. We got the bowl rolling. We had a committee at large and began the process of forming the Holy Innocents’ Foundation of Oklahoma. Two years later, the same Archbishop who was held "captive" in my car that night, came and blessed the new facilities. It had come full circle and what a blessing it is.
When we started our search, the original complex was all full. There were eight buildings in the Falls Office Complex, each individually owned and all of them occupied. Across the street, was a very large office complex, completely empty. That was where I thought we were being led. However, when the permission from Archbishop Coakley was given, there was an empty building right behind the abortionist. So, we locked radar on that one, hoping to rent it for our purposes. The owners, however, were less than cooperative. Over the course of several months, we haggled and debated, but they were not willing to allow us to convert the building to our needs.
In October 2011, while attending the convocation of the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, I met up with Tom Morris and Tucker McHugh. Tom looked at me and asked, "Father, why don’t you just buy a building." I responded, "That was not even on my radar." I knew and had already done some fundraising, and we had sufficient money to rent something for about a year, but buying one, meant a lot more money! I said, "I don’t even know how to go about that." He said, "but I do, that is what I do for a living." Before long, I had given my blessing to his idea. With in 72 hours, he had contacted a personal injury lawyer, whose building was 20 feet away from the abortionist, and we were in negotiation for his building.
After looking over his nearly 3000 square foot facility, and standing in his conference room, (which would be the starting point of the chapel), he said to us, "the only problem with this building is that there is a doctor next door….who does……women’s things….and sometimes, there are ……protestors outside…."
We left and as we walked down his stairs, Tom looked at Tucker and myself and said, "he thinks there are protestors now!"
From Oct to Feb 2012, Tom continued to haggle with the lawyer while Tucker negotiated the loan with a bank. I continued to work with the committee about possibilities. By Feb 2012, Tom and Tucker had nailed the building and the loan down. Tom bought the building as a straw-man; we met with the title company, and changed the title over to the Holy Innocents’ Foundation. We were on our way. The dream was coming true.
Fr. M Price Oswalt
President and Chaplain
6114 N.W. 63rd
Warr Acres, OK 73132