Initiative aims to promote human dignity

Supporters of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program hold signs in support of DACA recipients and other undocumented immigrants at a rally Sept. 5 in downtown Louisville. (Record Photos by Jessica Able)

By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer

The Archdiocese of Louisville will begin an initiative called “Days of Human Dignity” Jan. 6, the feast of the Epiphany. A prayer service is planned that day at the Cathedral of the Assumption at 11:30 a.m. to open National Migration Week, which is observed through Jan. 13.

“Days of Human Dignity” will continue for several weeks after and conclude in February with the Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl Luncheon. In between, several annual events will be incorporated into the initiative.

The “Days of Human Dignity” effort is meant to highlight and promote the dignity of all people through prayer and events. The other events are The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day service, the Walk for Life, the Pro-life Memorial Mass and the Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl Luncheon.

“All of these things are tied together and human dignity is the underlying theological principle. We all possess human dignity and it can’t be taken away,” said Father Patrick Delahanty, a member of the organizing committee and a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville.

“These days are about recognizing the human dignity of the people we think about at those events — an immigrant, a child in the womb or a person who needs help in another country,” he said.

The archdiocese has dedicated a section of its website to the effort. It can be found at www.archlou.org/days-of-human-dignity.

The website includes a statement by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, a calendar of events and resources on various topics, including racial justice and equality, dignity and sanctity of life and immigration and migration. The site also includes practical resources, such as lesson plans for incorporating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day into the classroom.

When the committee formed last spring, Father Delahanty noted during a recent interview, race relations had flared and immigrants and refugees were under attack. Wrapping all of these observances into one initiative “draws the diocese into a common effort” on a range of connected issues, he said.

Nine offices in the Archdiocese of Louisville eventually joined in the planning, with Father Delahanty, Mark Bouchard from Catholic Charities of Louisville and M. Annette Mandley-Turner, executive director of the Office of Multicultural Ministry, involved from the beginning.

Father Delahanty said it’s “an impressive group of people at the table” and it’s “pretty exciting to get people in the different offices involved.” 

Their conversations “will get rid of the silo effect, where only certain groups talk about certain issues,” said Father Delahanty. He hopes the meetings and discussions will help the agencies involved to see how “conversations about race and migration are part of their ministry,” he said.

Ed Harpring, prolife coordinator for the Archdiocese of Louisville and a member of the committee, said he believes the Holy Spirit is guiding their efforts. Harpring said he often works alone, so having this experience will help him widen his circle to reach more communities.

This experience “will get people to see that we’re all rowing together,” said Harpring during an interview Dec. 14.

His involvement with the group has already widened his circle, he said. Harpring presented a workshop on human trafficking during the fourth Archdiocesan Black Catholic Congress Dec. 9.

Turner agreed that working together with other archdiocesan colleagues has the potential to enhance each others’ ministry.

“Because of the skills and talents we find in various offices, when we work together we’re able to respond to the needs of people in ways we perhaps aren’t aware of,” she said. “We’re called to move beyond our comfort zone and form the types of relationships where all of us will experience something new that will enhance the ministry that will be done in our own department.”

Following is the “Days of Human Dignity schedule:”

Jan. 6 — 11:30 a.m. National Migration Week prayer service celebrated by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz at the Cathedral of the Assumption, 433 S. Fifth St. A reception will follow.

Jan. 15 — 1:30 p.m. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Day prayer service celebrated by Archbishop Kurtz at the Cathedral.

Jan. 19 — 4:30 p.m. Walk for Life. Participants will gather in the undercroft of the Cathedral.

Jan. 21 — 3 p.m. Annual Pro-life Memorial Mass celebrated by Archbishop Kurtz at St. Martin of Tours Church, 639 S. Shelby St.

Feb. 8 — 10:30 a.m. Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl Luncheon at Presentation Academy, 861 S. Fourth St.

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