The Archdiocese of Louisville will observe October as Respect Life Month with events on a variety of topics related to human life and dignity.
Central to the observance are four presentations planned in October. The presenters will discuss adoption and foster care on Oct. 4, human trafficking on Oct. 11, end-of-life issues on Oct. 18 and racism on Oct. 23. A full list of events is included below.
The series will shed light on ministries that may be new to some Catholics, said Stuart Hamilton, pro-life events coordinator for the archdiocese and a theology teacher at Trinity High School.
“I’m an average Catholic. I may know my theology, but I don’t think that any Catholic knows how much the church is doing,” he said, noting that he recently learned about Catholic Charities of Louisville’s anti-trafficking work.
As a teacher, Hamilton said, he’d like to see teens attend the presentations on human trafficking and racism. Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre will lead the latter.
“The youth have to be engaged,” he said.
Hamilton’s next steps in pro-life ministry center on young people — specifically nurturing collaboration between youth ministers and their parish respect-life committees, he said.
“Today, teens and young adults are polling more pro-choice,” Hamilton noted.
The good news is, “They are social activists and want to bring about justice,” he said. “But where are they getting their information? How are they determining what ‘pro-life’ looks like? We need to pivot to working with our youth ministers to help get the message across.”
That may mean engaging young people on an array of respect-life topics, he said, from the death penalty to homelessness.
“Take them somewhere to serve food” and encounter people in need, he said. “That can make an indelible mark.”
Hamilton said pivoting toward youth ministry is just one shift in respect-life ministry.
“I’m working on pivoting the respect-life community to (working on issues from) conception to natural death,” he said.
On the subject of abortion, he said, Kentucky’s ban helps but doesn’t mean abortion is at an end. Mail-order drugs are readily available.
Work on this front is shifting to a “love them both” approach, said Hamilton, with a focus on making abortion both unnecessary and unthinkable.
That means increasing efforts to help women in crisis with the challenges that drive them to abortion, such as financial fears and access to medical care. It also means providing support to women who don’t have a network to lean on, he said.
The parishes of the archdiocese have started doing this work through the Walking with Moms in Need initiative. Parishioners are called to accompany women in crisis, to provide the support they may lack in their lives to make motherhood an option.
Pro-life work is also focused on advancing family-friendly and mother-friendly policies, he said.
Adoption and foster care, the subject of the Oct. 4 presentation, are also important to the new pro-life landscape, he said.
“To be an effective pro-life community, we need to help the lives of children who are with us and don’t have parents,” Hamilton said. Families who have fostered and adopted children “talked to me about their challenges and the blessings. Community support is needed.”