God Calls … Kevin Rilott
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
October 13, 2022
Long-time prolife leader Kevin Rilott was 10 years old when Roe v. Wade came about in 1973. 
He, of course, “had no clue,” he says. “First thing I remember (about prolife) was at Boylan (Central Catholic High School), I saw information on a prolife club. I thought it very strange (because) everybody must be prolife. In high school, I didn’t even know what abortion was.” He did not join 
the club.
“Like a lot of people, I fell away (from the Church) in my early 20s,” he says. “I started coming back at age 25 or so. What prompted me to get involved in the prolife movement was a letter to the editor in The Observer.”
That letter invited readers to come down to 1400 Broadway, the site of the Rockford abortuary, to pray.
“I felt as a Catholic, I needed to do things for other people, and that’d be a good way to start,” Kevin recalls. “So on my first visit there, two things struck me: how sad and hurt the people going into the clinic looked, and the kindness and generosity of the prolifers.”
He walked up “sheepishly” to the sidewalk, he says, and was greeted and “shown the ropes,” and he “prayed the rosary with some people.”
That was 30 years ago. “It was just this feeling we were there out of love for the people going into the clinic,” he says. “It was the calling of a still, small voice within me saying I needed to overcome my fears and start serving the Lord and serving my neighbor.”
Some 20 years into the ministry, Kevin says he started taking “a bit of leadership” role in the work. And then his mother told him something he had never known.
Kevin’s brother was born in 1961 with hemophilia, a bleeding disease that at that time was “pretty much a death sentence,” he says, describing an early and very painful death from internal bleeding. When he was conceived in 1963, his mother’s doctor told her it would be best to terminate her pregnancy. Her doctor sent his parents to a Chicago hospital for an abortion. The physician there also recommended abortion, possible back then for the health of the mother.
“My parents looked at each other and decided they couldn’t do it,” Kevin says. “They chose life.
“I had no idea about this. When she told me that, I took it in and have thought about it over the years since.”
Medical advances in the mid-1960s made a difference for men with hemophilia — a disease passed on only by mothers only to their sons. The now-weekly treatments don’t cure the disease; Kevin walks with a limp, and he can’t work full-time because of arthritis caused by numerous bleedings in his joints.
His brother died at age 33.
“As a youth, I thought this disease was terrible,” Kevin says, “but as an adult, I see it as a blessing. It taught me how to look at other people and their difficulties with compassion and understanding. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.”
“My life,” he adds, “is a complete gift and blessing,” and he points to his wife, children and grandchildren as examples of that. His brother and his wife had two children, and Kevin notes how “the gift of life even in difficult circumstances is always, always a blessing.” His widowed mother, he adds, loves and enjoys her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Kevin insists that he “really can’t convey how abortion was not on my radar” at first. All those years ago, he read a letter to the editor and felt he should go down to the abortuary and pray.
“God led me into something that, in a sense, I was saved from,” he says, and all of it has been done “through the grace of the Holy Spirit.”
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