UPDATE: Collaboration is key to building pro-life culture, speakers say

January 25, 2024 at 3:11 p.m.

By MARY STADNYK
Associate Editor

More than 100 people, including leaders of pregnancy resource centers and representatives of parish ministries, gathered virtually to get practical tips on building a pro-life culture, including serving the needs of pregnant women and their children.

The Diocese of Trenton’s second annual Standing Together for Life seminar could not be held in-person because of a snowstorm, but leaders pivoted to the virtual seminar Jan. 19. Standing Together for Life coincides with the National March for Life in Washington and offers an opportunity for people “to stand in solidarity and prayer as we proclaim the sanctity of every human life” with those marching in Washington and those throughout the country who stand in solidarity for an end to abortion, for the protection of all women and families and for the sanctity of all human life, said Rachel Hendricks, diocesan respect life coordinator.

Moving Forward

She said this year’s program built on last year’s in-person event. The virtual program aimed to provide participants with more practical information and steps to work together to engage parish communities in serving women in need, advocating for women and families and educating about human dignity and sexual integrity, Hendricks said.

“We want to provide practical and actionable steps based on information, experiences and resources,” Hendricks said, using as a guidepost the four pillars of pro-life activities as presented by the U.S. bishops: prayer; service and outreach; education and awareness; and public advocacy.

The virtual gathering convened four local speakers offering expertise and experience on how they and their organizations advance efforts in building a culture of life in New Jersey.

NJCC Resources 

Jim King, executive director of the New Jersey Catholic Conference, reviewed the NJCC website, which has resources and information on the workings of the NJCC and various public policy issues. The site includes public policies, news stories, and information on what’s taking place in each of the five New Jersey dioceses.

King maintained that Catholics “have to look for ways where we can be positive influences on public policy in the state.” He said one such way might be to build bridges with elected officials.

“Even if we disagree on the life issues, we can always look for areas where we can find mutual ground,” he said. “It’s through building bridges that we’re able to have conversations. … We need to broaden our approach on how we advocate and address public policy in the state.”

Successful Program

Susan Loughery, associate executive director of operations for Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Trenton, gave an overview of how the agency assists people in need through its approximately 80 programs, ranging from housing, food, domestic violence and mental health. Even with the various specialty treatment and crisis programs, “we noticed a tremendous gap in terms of need for pregnant women, new moms and babies,” she said.

She said collaboration with other outreach agencies led Catholic Charities to establish “For My Baby and Me” in 2017. The program, in collaboration with other groups, helps mothers with hospital care, housing, ongoing substance abuse treatment, employment, clothing, food and peer support.

To date, Loughery noted that 164 mothers have been served by the program, and 105 babies have been born.

“What started as a discussion among different providers in the community has emerged to be a comprehensive system,” Loughery said.

“There are so many ways we can support new mothers and their babies,” Loughery said. She asked participants to consider their “call to action” and how they can be of assistance.

Parish Experience 

As a parish ministry leader in Our Lady of Good Counsel, Moorestown, Dr. Linda Dix addressed how mothers and children in need have benefited from the parish’s St. Vincent de Paul Society and its collaboration with other parish ministries, as well as with organizations in the Moorestown area and in Burlington County.

One of numerous examples Dix cited was the society working with the parish’s Cub Scout troop to provide supplies and gifts for a homeless family living in a motel; the mother was pregnant. The Scouts gave the family an array of gifts, including a small refrigerator, diapers and clothes, and crockpot recipes.

Dix said a recent survey showed that Burlington County had 933 homeless families and that the Moorestown St. Vincent de Paul Society serves 248 people.

“If we ... are going to truly meet these people’s needs, we need to collaborate with others,” she said. “Collaboration is key to any ministry.”

Tough Talk

Enza Cerami, founder and director of Living Stones, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to proclaiming God’s call to authentic love through the teaching of St. John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body,” spoke of effective outreach strategies for sharing God’s plan for sexuality, especially among young people — children, teens and young adults.

“We now live in a culture where we’ve completely lost the connection between sex, babies and marriage,” Cerami said, and a way to redirect that view is to create a “paradigm shift” that gives young people a differing perspective on sexuality.

“It’s about creating a new language and giving them a new vision that sex is a beautiful gift and that God allows us to be part of creating a new human life,” she said.

Cerami described the shift as a “three-legged stool approach” to inform parents, children and parish communities about the approach to sexuality.

She said parents need to build confidence on speaking with their children about sexuality and that they should not rely on their children being taught in schools and religious education classes.

Children need to know “that they and their bodies are a gift, and how they use their bodies either honors God or dishonors God,” she said. That message must conveyed with love, not condemnation, she added.

Similarly, the parish community has a duty to inform all “who are going to be in front of our kids,” — such as teachers and catechists — about their role in educating young people on sexuality.

Gaining Insight

As a member of a life ministry in St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Brant Beach, Jean Roberts said she seeks opportunities to grow in knowledge of what others are doing to stand for life.  

“It helps to realize there are many people who have worked toward promoting the sanctity of life and continue to do so,” she said.

Roberts said she was particularly impressed with Dr. Dix’s presentation about helping out at the parish level where the parish assists through ministries such as the St. Vincent de Paul conference. 

“Essentially, they take care of their families.  She talked about people coming together, demonstrating faith in action,” Roberts said, then noted how Dr. Dix emphasized praying first when working with people and “how we can be like St. Theresa of Avila, being the hands and feet of Christ.  

I was moved by her passion and felt some of what she spoke about could be incorporated into our life ministry,” Roberts said.

Promoting respect for life in my parish should be a priority for all members,” Roberts maintained. “Speakers mentioned the importance of collaboration.  It seems collaborating among the various groups within the parish would be a good place to start.”

The Church needs quality Catholic journalism now more than ever. Please consider supporting this work by signing up for a SUBSCRIPTION (click HERE) or making a DONATION to The Monitor (click HERE). Thank you for your support.


Related Stories

More than 100 people, including leaders of pregnancy resource centers and representatives of parish ministries, gathered virtually to get practical tips on building a pro-life culture, including serving the needs of pregnant women and their children.

The Diocese of Trenton’s second annual Standing Together for Life seminar could not be held in-person because of a snowstorm, but leaders pivoted to the virtual seminar Jan. 19. Standing Together for Life coincides with the National March for Life in Washington and offers an opportunity for people “to stand in solidarity and prayer as we proclaim the sanctity of every human life” with those marching in Washington and those throughout the country who stand in solidarity for an end to abortion, for the protection of all women and families and for the sanctity of all human life, said Rachel Hendricks, diocesan respect life coordinator.

Moving Forward

She said this year’s program built on last year’s in-person event. The virtual program aimed to provide participants with more practical information and steps to work together to engage parish communities in serving women in need, advocating for women and families and educating about human dignity and sexual integrity, Hendricks said.

“We want to provide practical and actionable steps based on information, experiences and resources,” Hendricks said, using as a guidepost the four pillars of pro-life activities as presented by the U.S. bishops: prayer; service and outreach; education and awareness; and public advocacy.

The virtual gathering convened four local speakers offering expertise and experience on how they and their organizations advance efforts in building a culture of life in New Jersey.

NJCC Resources 

Jim King, executive director of the New Jersey Catholic Conference, reviewed the NJCC website, which has resources and information on the workings of the NJCC and various public policy issues. The site includes public policies, news stories, and information on what’s taking place in each of the five New Jersey dioceses.

King maintained that Catholics “have to look for ways where we can be positive influences on public policy in the state.” He said one such way might be to build bridges with elected officials.

“Even if we disagree on the life issues, we can always look for areas where we can find mutual ground,” he said. “It’s through building bridges that we’re able to have conversations. … We need to broaden our approach on how we advocate and address public policy in the state.”

Successful Program

Susan Loughery, associate executive director of operations for Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Trenton, gave an overview of how the agency assists people in need through its approximately 80 programs, ranging from housing, food, domestic violence and mental health. Even with the various specialty treatment and crisis programs, “we noticed a tremendous gap in terms of need for pregnant women, new moms and babies,” she said.

She said collaboration with other outreach agencies led Catholic Charities to establish “For My Baby and Me” in 2017. The program, in collaboration with other groups, helps mothers with hospital care, housing, ongoing substance abuse treatment, employment, clothing, food and peer support.

To date, Loughery noted that 164 mothers have been served by the program, and 105 babies have been born.

“What started as a discussion among different providers in the community has emerged to be a comprehensive system,” Loughery said.

“There are so many ways we can support new mothers and their babies,” Loughery said. She asked participants to consider their “call to action” and how they can be of assistance.

Parish Experience 

As a parish ministry leader in Our Lady of Good Counsel, Moorestown, Dr. Linda Dix addressed how mothers and children in need have benefited from the parish’s St. Vincent de Paul Society and its collaboration with other parish ministries, as well as with organizations in the Moorestown area and in Burlington County.

One of numerous examples Dix cited was the society working with the parish’s Cub Scout troop to provide supplies and gifts for a homeless family living in a motel; the mother was pregnant. The Scouts gave the family an array of gifts, including a small refrigerator, diapers and clothes, and crockpot recipes.

Dix said a recent survey showed that Burlington County had 933 homeless families and that the Moorestown St. Vincent de Paul Society serves 248 people.

“If we ... are going to truly meet these people’s needs, we need to collaborate with others,” she said. “Collaboration is key to any ministry.”

Tough Talk

Enza Cerami, founder and director of Living Stones, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to proclaiming God’s call to authentic love through the teaching of St. John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body,” spoke of effective outreach strategies for sharing God’s plan for sexuality, especially among young people — children, teens and young adults.

“We now live in a culture where we’ve completely lost the connection between sex, babies and marriage,” Cerami said, and a way to redirect that view is to create a “paradigm shift” that gives young people a differing perspective on sexuality.

“It’s about creating a new language and giving them a new vision that sex is a beautiful gift and that God allows us to be part of creating a new human life,” she said.

Cerami described the shift as a “three-legged stool approach” to inform parents, children and parish communities about the approach to sexuality.

She said parents need to build confidence on speaking with their children about sexuality and that they should not rely on their children being taught in schools and religious education classes.

Children need to know “that they and their bodies are a gift, and how they use their bodies either honors God or dishonors God,” she said. That message must conveyed with love, not condemnation, she added.

Similarly, the parish community has a duty to inform all “who are going to be in front of our kids,” — such as teachers and catechists — about their role in educating young people on sexuality.

Gaining Insight

As a member of a life ministry in St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Brant Beach, Jean Roberts said she seeks opportunities to grow in knowledge of what others are doing to stand for life.  

“It helps to realize there are many people who have worked toward promoting the sanctity of life and continue to do so,” she said.

Roberts said she was particularly impressed with Dr. Dix’s presentation about helping out at the parish level where the parish assists through ministries such as the St. Vincent de Paul conference. 

“Essentially, they take care of their families.  She talked about people coming together, demonstrating faith in action,” Roberts said, then noted how Dr. Dix emphasized praying first when working with people and “how we can be like St. Theresa of Avila, being the hands and feet of Christ.  

I was moved by her passion and felt some of what she spoke about could be incorporated into our life ministry,” Roberts said.

Promoting respect for life in my parish should be a priority for all members,” Roberts maintained. “Speakers mentioned the importance of collaboration.  It seems collaborating among the various groups within the parish would be a good place to start.”

The Church needs quality Catholic journalism now more than ever. Please consider supporting this work by signing up for a SUBSCRIPTION (click HERE) or making a DONATION to The Monitor (click HERE). Thank you for your support.

Have a news tip? Email [email protected] or Call/Text 360-922-3092

e-Edition


e-edition

Sign up


for our email newsletters

Weekly Top Stories

Sign up to get our top stories delivered to your inbox every Sunday

Daily Updates & Breaking News Alerts

Sign up to get our daily updates and breaking news alerts delivered to your inbox daily

Latest Stories


Supreme Court weighs Idaho abortion ban against federal emergency health care law
The Supreme Court on April 24 weighed a ...

Biden signs $95 billion aid package critical for Ukraine's defense, global humanitarian needs
President Joe Biden on April 24 said the ...

BEING AUTHENTIC
Former NFL star destigmatizes mental health challenges in honest talk with students
What Caleb Campbell is most proud of, he told Donovan Catholic students, isn’t his recognition as ...

What's going on with the Latin Mass?
Q: What's going on with the Latin Mass, and why do some priests like to celebrate...

Historians' work should lead to dialogue, truth, Pope says
Historians serve the common good when they seek historical truth and not an ideological interpretation ...


The Evangelist, 40 North Main Ave., Albany, NY, 12203-1422 | PHONE: 518-453-6688| FAX: 518-453-8448
© 2024 Trenton Monitor, All Rights Reserved.