As we give thanks to God for the overturning of Roe v. Wade this summer, we also acknowledge that pro-life work is not done, Bishop Mark S. Rivituso told those gathered for Mass at the archdiocesan Respect Life Convention Oct. 15.
“Over the past 50 years, the Lord has sustained us so that we don’t become weary,” Bishop Rivituso said in his homily. “As we go on, continuing to build a culture of life, not only in our archdiocese but in our nation and throughout the world, we must remember that all we do must be founded upon prayer and reliance upon the Lord.”
The theme of this year’s convention — the 46th annual — was “Walking with Families in Dignity and Love.”
“These past few months have brought us cause for celebration, but, as the Church has done for many years, it is essential that we continue providing resources for mothers and families facing crisis,” Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski said in a welcome letter for the convention. “It is especially fitting that the theme of this year’s convention is ‘Walking with Families in Dignity and Love,’ as our Catholic faith calls us to do just that.”
Keynote speaker Karen Gaffney, president of the Karen Gaffney Foundation, shared her experience as a person with Down syndrome in the workforce. She works in a law firm in addition to her position at her nonprofit. She is also the first person with Down syndrome to swim the English Channel and advocates for meaningful employment and ongoing medical research to improve the lives of people with intellectual disabilities.
Other speakers included Lisa Rowe of Support After Abortion; Angela Minter of Sisters for Life Inc.; Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann of My Catholic Doctor; Catherine Glenn Foster of Americans United for Life; Matt Estrade of Peace with Dementia Rosary Ministry; Dr. Mary Fox, a family medicine specialist on palliative care; and Jasha McQueen Kuenzel of Embryo Defense.
Pam Fichter received the Cardinal Carberry Award, which is presented annually to an individual(s) who has made a significant contribution to the pro-life movement. The award is named after the late Cardinal Carberry, who started the archdiocesan Pro-Life Committee in St. Louis — the first in the nation — after the Roe V. Wade decision in 1973.
Fichter, who attends the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales and St. Mary of Victories Church, has been active in the pro-life movement since shortly after the Roe V. Wade decision. She served as president of Missouri Right to Life from 2004-14 and delegate to the National Right to Life Committee; a parish pro-life coordinator; Respect Life Convention chair; and instructor for the Right START Program, which teaches eighth-graders about the realities of abortion and chastity.
Several people also were recognized with the Friend of Life Award, which is given to individuals who are doing extraordinary work in their pro-life ministries, most often at the parish level:
Sam Mehmert, a parishioner at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in St. Charles, for his involvement with the monthly archdiocesan pro-life Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis and assisting with the Rosary walk to Planned Parenthood.
Carol DeGhelder, a parishioner at Sts. Joachim and Ann in St. Charles, for her service as a pro-life parish coordinator and assisting with the monthly archdiocesan pro-life Mass and Rosary walk.
Jeannine Sinak, a parishioner at Queen of All Saints in south St. Louis County, for her many years as secretary on the Executive Board of the Respect Life Apostolate. She also serves as her parish pro-life coordinator and has helped bring young people to the March for Life in Washington, D.C.
>> Walking with Moms
Walking with Moms St. Louis provides a resource and support network for women, couples and families facing unexpected pregnancies in the greater St. Louis area.
Pregnancy resource guide: WalkingWithMomsStL.com
National Walking with Moms: WalkingWithMoms.com
Abortion Healing Ministry: archstl.org/hope-healing
Respect Life Apostolate: stlrespectlife.org