During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we have been reflecting on what mercy means and how to live it out. At the core of the call to mercy is our respect for the dignity of every person made in the image and likeness of God. As a gift from God, every human life is sacred from conception to natural death.
We learn our values most profoundly in the context of relationships and families, and the value of human life is one I absorbed from a very young age. You see, my older brother George was born with Down syndrome. Older than me by five years, George began to live with me after my mother’s death, and I became his guardian until his death 12 years later in 2002.
In the era in which I grew up, Georgie was lovingly included into our family, our Church, and our neighborhood. In fact, when he was unable to attend school after seventh grade (there was no special education in those days), my friends and I would bring school work home and “teach” him what we learned that day.
Because of this life experience, I developed a passion for protecting the life of the unborn and the dignity of those with physical or developmental disabilities. Life experiences often lead to a particular interest in certain issues.
I know individuals who champion the abolition of the death penalty because of their work with death row inmates.
Others have experienced the injustice of discrimination and have devoted their lives to working on issues of racial justice.
I’ve met refugees who have turned their attention to those newly arrived in our nation because they want to give back what they received.
During this Year of Mercy, we hope to promote a deepening of life experiences and passions by focusing on the totality and interrelatedness of life issues and the foundation of these issues in Catholic social teaching.
Several of our offices have joined together to provide this opportunity through the Archdiocese of Louisville Life Conference “Moved by Mercy,” on Saturday, Oct. 22.
One of the goals for this Conference is to unite and involve those whose deep commitment and passion span the spectrum of human dignity issues, from abortion to the death penalty to immigration to racism.
Another goal is to provide inspiration and formation for all parishioners, with the hope that they might be motivated to join in this important work, especially through our social concerns and respect life committees on the parish level.
I will provide the keynote. The conference also will feature witnesses who will share their personal stories of experiencing and giving mercy in the context of four life issues: abortion, the death penalty, immigration and racism.
The conference will be held at St. Michael Church, 3705 Stone Lakes Drive in Louisville, and will begin at 8:30 a.m. Lunch will be provided by the Common Table Culinary School of Catholic Charities, and the Conference will end with Mass. We will conclude at 2:30 p.m.
There is a nominal cost of $30 (with a married couple fee of $50 and a student fee of $20), and you can register at www.archlou.org/life.
I would love to see the conference filled with those who have been involved in life issues as well as new faces of those who may not be as informed about these issues or who are looking for new ways to get involved in parish ministries.
Personal invitation is most effective. So I challenge those of you working on your parish respect life and social concerns committees to come to this conference and personally invite another parishioner to join you. Learning and praying together along with others from parishes throughout our archdiocese is a very powerful experience.
Through the intercession of St. John Paul II, whose feast we will celebrate on Oct. 22, let us join together to promote the dignity of life and to channel our passion and enthusiasm into building a culture of life. I hope to see you on Oct. 22 at St. Michael.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz