By Marnie McAllister, Record Assistant Editor
October is Respect Life Month and Oct. 5 is Respect Life Sunday. At this time each year, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops asks Catholics to give special attention to life issues — ranging from conception to natural death.
This year’s theme is “Each of us is a masterpiece of God’s creation,” which was adapted from Pope Francis’ 2013 Day for Life message, according to Ed Harpring, pro-life coordinator for the Archdiocese of Louisville.
“There’s a connection between these life issues, from conception to natural death,” Harpring said in a phone interview about the observance. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the abortion issue or end-of-life issues, as people of life we are asked to make our voices heard wherever the Lord calls us — whether on the sidewalk (outside an abortion clinic), at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul or advocating for the poor or against the death penalty or working with abused children.
“We’re really trying to promote that continuity. We’re all called to do something as Catholics to be active in defending life,” he said.
Locally, programs related to abortion, end-of-life care and capital punishment are planned this month. They are:
-The Golden Arrow Center, an outreach ministry of St. Martin of Tours Church that provides necessities to mothers, babies and young children, is holding a fundraising dinner at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 4801 Progress Boulevard, on Oct. 18. The reception and silent auction begin at 5 p.m. followed by dinner at 6 p.m. For tickets, which are $25, call the St. Martin rectory at 582-2827.
-“Life — The Gift that Never Ends” is the subject of a program to be presented by Father Paul Scaglione, pastor of St. Barnabas Church, on Oct. 30 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the church, 3042 Hikes Lane.
Father Scaglione has served for years with people nearing the end of their lives and ministers to people with serious illnesses through Gennesaret Retreats.
-Sister of St. Joseph Helen Prejean, author of the famed book Dead Man Walking, will speak about the abolition of the death penalty on Oct. 25 at St. Michael Church, 3705 Stone Lakes Drive, (after the parish’s 6 p.m. Mass) from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
-40 Days for Life, which began Sept. 24, will continue with prayer, fasting and vigil outside the EMW Women’s Surgical Center in downtown Louisville through Nov. 2. Volunteers are needed to keep vigil in shifts outside the abortion clinic between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. each day. For more information or to sign up, visit http://40daysforlife.com/local-campaigns/louisville.
In addition to these observances, the bishops have asked parishes around the nation to bring the message of life to parishes and liturgies. The bishops have provided information packets that contain ideas for homilies, prayers and other resources to observe Respect Life Month. They are available at http://www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/respect-life-program/index.cfm.