Respect Life Month, a time set aside by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to uphold the dignity of life from conception to natural death, begins this week and continues through October.
Ed Harpring, pro-life coordinator of the Archdiocese of Louisville, said the observance is an opportunity to reflect and pray on issues of life, including the unborn, children in foster care, people near the end of life and the homeless.
“Pope Francis says we live in a ‘throwaway culture.’ We tend to put the homeless, unborn, those with handicaps, women in crisis pregnancies on the peripheries. This is a way to walk alongside them,” he said in an interview last week.
Catholics “can’t do it all” but “we are called to do something,” he said. “The question is where is the Lord calling me? That is key.”
This year’s theme for Respect Life Month is “Every Life: Cherished, Chosen, Sent.” Several events are planned in the Archdiocese of Louisville in October to mark Respect Life Month.
Foster care, a relatively new issue for the archdiocese’s pro-life ministry, will be the focus of an event on Oct. 16 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Holy Family Church, 3926 Poplar Level Road. According to state statistics, 9,500 children are in foster care in the commonwealth of Kentucky. That figure is up from 8,000 just two years ago.
“We need more foster parents but there are also many other ways to get involved, such as being a mentor or volunteering time with children in foster care,” said Harpring.
The event will feature presentations by
a representative from the state Cabinet of Health and Family Services; Darren Washausen, the executive director of Orphan Care Alliance; foster parents; and Harpring, who will share other ways to be involved.
“This is something that we, as a Catholic community, need to respond to,” he said.
Items for children in foster care are also being collected, including duffle bags, body wash, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, travel toothbrush holders, hair brushes, combs, chapstick, band-aids, headbands, ponytail holders, Q-tips, floss, mouthwash, AA and AAA batteries and athletic shorts.
When children arrive in foster care homes, Harpring said, they often carry their belongings in a trash bag. Providing them a duffle bag with hygiene items is a way to restore some dignity.
A Mass for mothers and fathers who have lost a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth or in early childhood will be celebrated Oct. 14 at 3 p.m. in Our Lady of the Woods Chapel at Bellarmine University. In addition to this Mass, Calvary Cemetery, 1600 Newburg Road, offers a monthly prayer service in the Holy Innocents section of the cemetery on the last Wednesday of each month at 1:30 p.m. The service is a way for families to remember those children who were stillborn or who died at a very young age.
Respect Life Month programs hosted or promoted by the Family Ministries Office in October are listed at right.