Conference on dignity of life issues to be held

life-conference-cross-9-29-16-wBy Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer

Individuals will have the opportunity to hear about a variety of issues related to the dignity of life, including abortion, the death penalty, immigration and racism, at a local gathering next month.

The Life Conference, hosted by the Archdiocese of Louisville, will take place Oct. 22 at St. Michael Church in Jeffersontown.

The conference, the first of its kind in the archdiocese, coincides with the conclusion of the Year of Mercy, which culminates with the Christ the King feast day on Nov. 20, and Respect Life Month, which is observed in October. The conference is one of the dozens of ministries funded by the Catholic Services Appeal.

The theme of the conference is “Moved by Mercy — Every Life Matters” and organizers said they hope it brings together parishioners across the archdiocese.

“If one person is working with St. Vincent de Paul’s soup kitchen or another person participates in a 40 Days for Life event at an abortion clinic, they are both affirming life,” said Ed Harpring, archdiocesan pro-life coordinator and one of the conference’s organizers, in an interview last week.

Sal Della Bella, director of the Office of Evangelization and one of the conference’s organizers, said he hopes the conference serves as a starting point, where parishioners concerned about life recognize commonalities among them and take the conversation about the dignity of every life home to their individual parishes.

“I hope the participants are literally moved by mercy,” Della Bella said, noting the day’s theme. “We’re hoping for relationship-building and hope that people from different areas of the archdiocese and with different passions come together and see how it (the range of life issues) all fits together.”

csa-tag16Deacon Lucio Caruso, director of mission integration and mission advancement at Catholic Charities of Louisville and one of the conference’s organizers, used an analogy of bookends to talk about the spectrum of life issues. He said the Catholic faith often speaks to the bookend issues of abortion on one end and euthanasia and the death penalty on the other end.

“But it also speaks to the books of issues in between, like hunger, racism, immigration, refugees, living wage, prison reform, global warming.

“The issues are interrelated with one another, and a disregard for the value of life at either bookend or in between will have serious consequences,” Deacon Caruso said.

Instead of traditional breakout sessions, conference attendees will listen to four brief witness talks on the day’s themes — abortion, death penalty, immigration and racism. The witness talks will be followed by discussions in small groups.

The day’s meals will be provided by Common Table, a ministry of Catholic Charities designed to train refugees, former inmates and others in food service. Portions of the day’s registration fee will go toward the Common Table program.

“People will not only receive a wholesome lunch but by eating it they will be supporting the lives of the people who prepared it,” Deacon Caruso said.

Organizers noted that the conference is not solely geared toward adults. Efforts were made during the planning phase to appeal to teens and young adults as well. The conference’s steering committee consulted Ambassadors for Life, an archdiocesan student group dedicated to promoting “the full spectrum of life issues,” Harpring said.

The day will begin at 8:30 a.m. It will include breakfast, lunch and Mass. The cost is $30 for adults, $20 for students and $50 for married couples. Financial assistance is available. Visit to register.

As the Year of Mercy draws to a close, the final event in the archdiocese will be a free concert called “Psalms Reborn” at the Cathedral of the Assumption on Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m.

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