The Coordinator serves the parish and is assisted by the Archdiocesan Respect Life Apostolate. The Coordinator organizes and implements the efforts of the USCCB Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities at his local parish in consultation with the Pastor of that parish. The Pastoral Plan specifically focuses on the issues of abortion, infanticide and euthanasia and the Coordinator must understand and accept the Church's teaching on these issues.
In Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical CARITAS IN VERITATE (Charity in Truth), the Holy Father addresses many issues that can be applied to the development of the Culture of Life. Truth is necessary to encourage a greater respect for human life. To faithfully and successfully work in the respect life movement, parish coordinators, pastors and all others must represent the Truth with conviction and love.
Benedict XVI communicates that the respect for life “cannot in any way be detached” from the development of people spiritually and intellectually. “When a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man’s true good” (§ 28). Therefore, parish coordinators in accordance with the intentions of the pastor, must coordinate events and teach the faith with a pastoral (with Christ the Good Shepherd as their model) conviction and always speak the truth lovingly, even when it is difficult to do so.
Working with the Pastor
- Establish with your pastor his expectations of your role and how best to work with him.
- Identify the needs/dynamics of the parish and the pastor’s level of involvement.
- Cultivate goodwill, trust, and friendship.
- Listen to his evaluation of the pro-life needs of the parish.
- Ask him to speak before a parish gathering or organization on a pro-life issue.
- Each week, Priests for Life provides an email service to clergy (subscribe at firstname.lastname@example.org) containing general intercessions, a one-paragraph bulletin insert and suggestions for drawing pro-life themes out of the Sunday readings for the homily.
- The Respect Life Apostolate shares the Word of Life intercession and bulletin announcement series from the USCCB with all parish priests, deacons and secretaries to further prayers for life at the parish as part of the liturgy.
- Offer your services to successfully carry out programs and activities.
Read and become familiar with the USCCB Pastoral Plan for Pro Life Activities. This provides the background behind the Church's teaching on the sanctity of human life and provides a blueprint for implementing the Pastoral Plan. As representatives of the Bishops on pro-life issues, we follow the leadership of the Bishops’ Pro Life Secretariat in Washington, D.C., particularly regarding public policy matters related to these life issues.
Organize a parish committee to help with planning and implementing the specific pro-life programs and/or projects. The size and formality of this committee depends largely upon the size of the parish. Some coordinators (particularly in small parishes) may find it unnecessary to establish a formal committee. However, every parish should at least have a group of volunteers available to help implement programs/projects as needed. To ensure that the pro-life committee is represents a sample of the parish populace, it is strongly encouraged to invite young adults and driven adolescents to be representatives for that age group. They can also facilitate with some of the immediate communication that is often required in working with action alerts and email notifications from the Respect Life Apostolate.
Meet regularly (preferably monthly) with the other coordinator(s) (if applicable) to plan an activity for the following month(s). Try to initiate some effort (no matter how small) at least once a month. Review and evaluate these goals periodically. [See appendix for sample goal development forms]
Review with your pastor any pro-life activities, programs or events that will be advertised or carried out at the parish before they take place.
Implement specific projects or requests sent from the Respect Life Apostolate.
Serve as a liaison between the parish and the Respect Life Apostolate, forwarding any information or concerns of the parish or pastor.
The Coordinator is at the service of the pastor. Upon resignation, the Coordinator should inform the pastor of his/her decision and, if possible, assist the pastor in choosing a new Coordinator who will then notify the Respect Life Apostolate of the new appointment.
The Coordinator serves in a voluntary manner. All activities must be subsidized in a manner agreed upon by the pastor.
The Coordinator may be involved in other pro-life organizations and promote other pro-life events on the parish level, provided the pastor is informed and consents when those events are not under the sponsorship of the Bishops' Pastoral Plan.