By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
October is Respect Life Month, a time of year when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops calls on the faithful to pay particular attention to and take action on issues related to life — from conception to natural death.
This year’s theme is “Every life is worth living.”
“That theme says it all,” said Ed Harpring, pro-life coordinator for the Archdiocese of Louisville. “As Catholics, life is what we stand for. Catholic social teaching revolves around life issues. We are called to protect and advocate for people who are in the shadows — from the homeless to the unborn to the elderly.”
Harpring said that when it comes to life issues there is much to do. And everyone can do something.
“Whether it’s helping an elderly neighbor who can no longer get out or praying and fasting, we are all called to do something,” he said.
The archdiocese will offer several programs this month that address life issues, including suicide prevention, end of life care and the persecution of Christians.
Deacon Adam Carrico — who is expected to be ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Louisville in December — will present a suicide prevention talk and prayer service at 7 p.m. Oct. 14 at Holy Family Church, 3926 Poplar Level Road. Deacon Carrico said the program aims to raise awareness about suicide and mental illness. And it seeks to “relieve the stigma” surrounding those issues.
“I see it as a response to the call to ‘clothe the naked,’” explained Deacon Carrico during a phone interview. “Those who struggle with mental illness or the suicide of a loved one can be left feeling naked because of the way our culture views it.”
He plans to speak from a “theological and personal” perspective, something he’s particularly equipped to do. Deacon Carrico lost a sibling to suicide.
The program will touch on what the church “believes and teaches about suicide,” he added.
Martine Siegel, a clinical nurse specialist in psychiatry and the director of counseling services and victim assistance coordinator for the archdiocese, will be a part of the presentation as well. She will talk about statistics, counseling options and warning signs of suicide.
Advocating for those who suffer from mental illness is not very different from helping the poor or advocating for a child in the womb, said Deacon Carrico. Each is a response to the call to protect the entirety of human life, he explained.
Harpring added, “one suicide is too many,” but it’s on the rise among young adults. “We need to advocate and bring this issue out of the shadow, so that we can let people know we’re there for them,”
The other programs taking place during Respect Life Month are:
- A program on persecuted Christians and the refugee crisis will take place at St. Albert Church, 1395 Girard Drive, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. Napoléon Akayezu, a former African consultant for the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Office of Multicultural Ministry, will give a “witness talk” about persecution and the ongoing refugee crisis. The program will also offer education, prayer and advocacy.
- Mark Bouchard, coordinator for advocacy, education and national programs at Catholic Charities of Louisville, will talk about the services Catholic Charities offers and how the public can get involved. This event will take place Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. at Holy Spirit Church, 3345 Lexington Road.
- The 40 Days for Life campaign, which began Sept. 23, will continue with prayer, fasting and vigils outside EMW Women’s Surgical Center, 138 W. Market St., through Nov. 1. For more information or to volunteer for vigil shifts, visit www.40daysforlife.com/louisville.
In addition to these events, the U.S. bishops have asked priests around the country to spread the message of life in their parishes. To that end, the bishops have provided information packets that contain ideas for homilies, prayers and resources to observe Respect Life Month. This information is available at usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/respect-life-program/index.cfm.