Each October, the Catholic Church in the U.S. celebrates Respect Life Month. A special Respect Life Month offering in the Diocese of Syracuse is “Be Not Afraid,” a series of virtual workshops designed to teach Catholics how to discuss with civility and respect the issues of abortion, assisted suicide, poverty, and racism with family, friends, and neighbors. In advance of the first workshop, the Catholic Sun asked Lisa Hall, director of the Office of Family/Respect Life Ministry, to share more about the initiative.
Catholic Sun: Where did the idea for this series come from? How were the specific topics chosen?
Lisa Hall: The idea was initially conceived through training I’ve done with Project Rachel Ministry [a post abortion-healing ministry]. The most effective part of the training is always when we get to see someone model answering a call to the Project Rachel line and then practice taking a call ourselves. It really helped form the ways to think about and handle a call. This came to me later as I watched my daughter Hannah talk with loved ones, friends, and even her teachers, in a civil, respectful way that garnered respect for her and the pro-life position. Some people are born with that ability. Most (like me) are not. All of these things really came together last year as Bob Walters [diocesan director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry] and I discussed how we could better equip teens to talk with their peers about pro-life issues. We tried it at the first ever Pro-Life Conference last February and it was a huge success. So I decided to see if we could transition that success into an event for adults.
CS: What is the goal of these trainings? Who are they for?
LH: The goal for these trainings is to empower Catholics to proclaim the Gospel of Life lovingly and compassionately. We want to help build confidence and clarity around some difficult hot-button issues and equip people to plant seeds of civility.
CS: What will each session entail?
LH: Each 90-minute session will include a presentation offering background knowledge, Church teaching, and dialogue principles. Sessions will also include conversation modeling, practice with a partner, and time for questions and answers.
CS: Who will lead and bring their expertise to the sessions?
LH: The project is a collaboration between the Office of Family/Respect Life and Kathleen Gallagher, Director of Pro-Life Activities and Director of Catholic Action Network for the New York State Catholic Conference. She and I will participate in all four sessions. We will have guest experts join us for discussions surrounding assisted suicide, poverty, and racism. Dr. John O’Brien will assist us in modeling a conversation about opposing assisted suicide; Father John Manno will join us for the discussion around poverty; and Father Pierre Toussaint, CFR, from Ascension Presents will be with us to discuss the Catholic response to racism.
Be Not Afraid: Discussing Difficult Topics
● Sessions will be held entirely online from 7 to 8:30 p.m. October 8, 15, 22, and 29. You do not need to commit to attending each session.
● Dates and topics are as follows:
○ October 8: Abortion
○ October 15: Assisted Suicide
○ October 22: Poverty
○ October 29: Racism
● The sessions are intended for Catholics in the Syracuse Diocese.
● There is no cost to participate.
● Register for one or more sessions at linktr.ee/syrdiofamilyrespectlife.
● Contact the Family/Respect Office with questions at 315-472-6754 ext 2 or firstname.lastname@example.org.