Above: The annual Cathedral Mass and March for Life help keep awareness high in the Diocese of Syracuse. (Catholic Sun file)

By Lisa Hall
Director, Office of Family/Respect Life Ministry

Each year since 1973, October is designated as Respect Life Month in the United States by the U.S. Catholic Bishops.

Family Fun Day at Christ the King Retreat House stresses that respecting life and strengthening families go hand in hand.

Why do the bishops invite Catholics in America to do this? Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, says this: “October has been set aside … as a time to focus on protecting God’s precious gift of human life. While we thank God that the terrible reign of Roe has ended, we also recognize that abortion still continues in most states and is aggressively promoted at the federal level. A great many prayers, sacrifices and good works are still desperately needed to transform a culture of death into a culture of life. Our public witness, our marching and our advocacy must continue, yet laws alone will not end the tragedy of abortion. While ending legalized abortion remains our preeminent priority, the most immediate way to save babies and mothers from abortion is to thoroughly surround mothers in need with lifegiving support and personal accompaniment. This is radical solidarity.”

What does Radical Solidarity look like in the Syracuse Diocese? In terms of the Family/Respect Life Office it includes:

  • Equipping Pro-Life Advisors in the diocesan Catholic schools with tools and resources to teach students about life issues and encourage them to act.
  • Equipping priests, deacons, parish life directors and respect-life coordinators in the parishes with tools and resources to promote a culture that prays, works and advocates for life.
  • Providing pro-life entities with resources such as pregnancy-care postcards that are used in sidewalk counseling to provide life-affirming options to mothers and fathers.
  • Offering opportunities to pray for life such as the Masses for Life in diocesan high schools and the annual Mass and Holy Hour for Life at Cathedral with Bishop Douglas J. Lucia.
  • Providing hope and healing through Project Rachel Ministry to those seeking God’s love and mercy after involvement with abortion.
  • Providing support and resources to those who have experienced miscarriage or to those experiencing infertility.
  • Providing guidance and support for couples seeking to honor God’s plan for life and marriage through the use of Natural Family Planning.
  • Instructing and resourcing those in parishes and schools about God’s plan for healthy, holy sexuality (chastity).

There are many beautiful things happening in our parishes and schools to honor the gift of life.  This is the time, particularly in our nation and even more particularly in New York State, to trust and share God’s goodness. To work together more fully to share about God’s gift of life. How can we do this?  We can:

  • Offer Masses, Holy Hours, rosaries, prayer intentions for the gift of life to be valued and protected from the moment of creation till the moment of death.
  • Post Walking with Moms in Need flyers in parishes. This flyer provides information on where a mom in need can go to receive practical care and support.
  • Teach your children and grandchildren that every life is a gift from God and that God is the giver of life. Teach them that we do not have the authority to choose who is worthy of life.
  • Work as a team with your priest, deacon, parish-life coordinator and catechetical leaders to pray, work and advocate for the gift of life. Our office has been working with other diocesan ministry leaders to learn more about the ministry of accompaniment and it is bearing tremendous fruit. Learning about the process of accompaniment is crucial to walking in radical solidarity.

Please call us or visit our page at syracusediocese.org for more information or resources. We are most grateful to all those who support the HOPE Appeal. Your gifts enable us to equip others to pray, act and work on behalf of God’s gift of life.

Always remember — you are an irreplaceable, unrepeatable, indispensable gift. Please share the gift of your life with others!

Contact Lisa Hall, Director, Office of Family/Respect Life Ministry, at 315-472-6754 or familyrespectlife@syrdio.org.

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