Moved by Mercy – The Theme for the 2016-2017 Respect Life Year
Happy Respect Life Month! I am pleased to broadcast that October is Respect Life Month. October 1st kicked off a new chapter of Respect Life with the start of a new USCCB Respect Life Program for the year. The USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities publishes new Respect Life Program materials each year to highlight various Respect Life issues put forth at the start of Respect Life Month (First Sunday in October). These annual materials respond to the needs of parishes, schools and other ministries for basic presentations of life issues. This year’s Respect Life Program theme is Moved by Mercy. This theme is exceptionally fitting this year. As we draw near to the end of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, we are reminded that we are called to continue this theme of mercy in our ministries throughout this next year, and in our lives. His Holiness, Pope Francis reminds us that “We are called to show mercy because mercy has first been shown to us.” We are called to promote life and defend life always. Learn more about the 2016-2017 USCCB Respect Life Program here.
This year’s Respect Life Program is emphasized in liturgies and featured through a variety of programs and events that take place throughout the whole Respect Life year (October-September). The events occur at various locations- including parish, community, diocesan, state and national levels. A summary of a few of these events is offered below:
40 Days for Life: This community-based campaign uses a peaceful approach to show local communities the consequences of abortion in their own neighborhoods, for their own friends and families. 40 Days for Life uses a three-point program to help draw an attention to the evil that is abortion. Using Prayer and Fasting, Constant Vigil, and Community Outreach, all those who participate in this campaign fight against abortion peacefully. This campaign is currently taking place (September 28-November 6). Contact your parish respect life coordinator to see if your parish is involved in 40 Days for Life.
March for Life: Hundreds of thousands of Respect Life advocates from around the nation march in unity and peace in Washington D.C. on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the United States. There is a Rally at noon and the March begins at 1:00 pm. Please visit http://marchforlife.org/ for more information about the March and related events. The Dioceses of Charlotte and Raleigh celebrate a Mass for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine each year just before the March for Life. Next year, the North Carolina Mass will be celebrated at 11:30 am on Friday, January 27, 2017 in the Upper Church. Join me for Mass and the March! Hope to see you there!
March for Life Charlotte: For those who are unable to attend the March for Life in DC (or for those who want to do both), there is a March for Life in Charlotte. This is another peaceful, powerful way to pray and witness for Life at the local level. Next year, the 11th Annual March for Life Charlotte will take place on Friday, January 13, 2017 at noon. Before the March begins, a Mass for the Unborn will be celebrated at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Charlotte at 9:00 AM. Please visit http://www.marchforlifecharlotte.org/ for more information.
9 Days for Life: 9 Days for Life is a focused period of prayer, penance, and pilgrimage. Marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade (the Supreme Court case which legalized abortion during all 9 months of pregnancy), this novena has as its overarching intention the end to abortion (USCCB). Next year the Novena is scheduled for January 21-29, 2017. Please visit www.9daysforlife.com for more information and to sign up for alerts. There is also an app to use during the 9 Days for Life Novena. Consider participating in your parish’s 9 Days for Life Novena or consider helping to start one in your parish.
These above Respect Life activities are only just a few of the many Respect Life events in which you can participate. Even if you cannot participate, please hold in your prayers those who are participating and pray for the success of all Respect Life activities. Also consider being an advocate for all human life by becoming a participant in Catholic Voice NC (CVNC), the non-partisan email alert network of the Bishops of Charlotte and Raleigh. For more information please visit http://www.catholicvoicenc.org.
In addition to visiting the Respect Life Program website of the USCCB (see above), please visit the website of Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte for more information and events at the diocesan level: www.ccdoc.org/respectlife, and your local parish websites for more information about events at the local level.
Complementing the diocesan pro-life entities such as Catholic Charities, CVNC, and parishes, we are also fortunate to have within the geographic boundaries of the Diocese of Charlotte a number of ministries (e.g., non-profits, networks) which work for the protection of unborn human life. For example, Be Not Afraid (www.benotafraid.net) provides life-affirming comprehensive, practical, and peer-based support to parents experiencing a prenatal diagnosis. C-PLAN, the Catholic Pro-Life Action Network (http://www.prolifecharlotte.org/) is a network of dedicated pro-life Catholics with a commitment to spreading the Culture of Life in the Charlotte area. And MiraVia (www.mira-via.org) and Room at the Inn of the Triad (www.roominn.org) offer essential life affirming assistance to pregnant mothers and their children. I encourage you to explore the good work being done on behalf of protecting and respecting human life in our diocese and to find at least one Respect Life event and/or ministry in which you can participate during the upcoming year!
“Let’s say ‘Yes’ to life and ‘No’ to death.” –Pope Francis
By Jessica Grabowski
Respect Life Program Director