The 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court case that opened the door to abortion-on-demand throughout the United States will be an occasion for introspection and recommitment.
The Court’s recent overturning of that Jan. 22, 1973, decision has highlighted the need for individuals, families and communities of faith to pray for and assist pregnant mothers who might otherwise consider abortion.
Several parishes and schools in the Jefferson City diocese responded to an inquiry about how they are helping pregnant women in need:
“We have volunteers help there,” said Father Daniel Lueckenotte, pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Cuba, St. Francis Caracciolo Parish in Bourbon and St. Michael Parish in Steelville.
“Donations from our St. Martin de Porres fund go there — $100 monthly,” he noted. “Occasionally, folks host baby showers.”
All three parishes take part in Lifeline’s annual baby bottle fundraisers. Parishioners and the local Knights of Columbus council sponsor a table and attend the annual dinner.
“Some of their clients get housing and rent assistance and utility assistance through the Cuba Ministerial Alliance, of which Holy Cross is a member,” Fr. Lueckenotte added.
On another front, the parish is starting a lecture series called “The Genius of the Body.”
Lectures will take place twice a semester on an ongoing basis, beginning from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 26.
Each presentation will contribute to a holistic understanding of biology and fertility in the human body.
The first two speakers will be Dr. Amanda Patterson, who teaches at the University of Missouri, and Dr. Michael Dixon, who is certified in NaProTechnology, the Creighton Model of Natural Family Planning (NFP).
“We hope this will be an opportunity to empower females (and males), foster a relationship with MU healthcare, and help get people familiar with Natural Family Planning before they get engaged,” said Father Daniel Merz, pastor.
“Our group has six meetings per year and we try to also do six pro-life activities per year,” stated parishioner Jenny Lamb.
The committee maintains a resource section on the St. Stanislaus parish website (church.ststanislaus.net/pro-life-group), providing information on many organizations a pregnant woman in crisis pregnancy can contact for help.
The committee’s largest activity is the annual Walk for Life. In partnership with the local Knights of Columbus and Lions Club, the committee held its 45th walk this past September, raising money for local pro-life organizations.
“The day of the event is a chance for those attending to witness to our community on the sanctity of life, celebrate life, to learn more about the different pro-life agencies that benefit from this event, and to enjoy fellowship with friends and neighbors,” said Ms. Lamb.
Seven pro-life organizations received $1,900 apiece from the 2022 walk.
The committee also works with the parishes and St. Stanislaus School to hold a LIFE Runners Witness Walk on the First Wednesday of each month.
More than 50 or more students participate, beginning at 7:10 a.m.
“This is a very visible sign to our community as they are all on their way to work,” said Ms. Lamb. “We pray for mothers, fathers and babies, as well as those who are post-abortion.”
A committee member updates two pro-life bulletin boards in the school each month.
This year, the committee worked with the Jefferson City-based Pregnancy Help Center (PHC) of Central Missouri to start a prayer initiative.
“The PHC is sending us generic info on moms who have agreed to receive prayers over mom and baby,” said Ms. Lamb.
That information, along with a book containing prayers for moms and babies through each week of pregnancy, is available in the Adoration Chapel in St. Stanislaus Church.
“We’ve been overwhelmed with the number of women asking for our prayers,” Ms. Lamb stated. “There are currently 21 on our list.”
The parish’s Social Concerns Commission includes a Ministry for Protecting Life, led by Glenda Hinrichs and Theresa Brown.
The commission organizes an annual baby bottle fundraiser campaign for the PHC, providing about $500 in 2019; $1,013.77 in 2020; $1,112.87 in 2021 and $2,164.13 in 2022.
It also organizes collection drives for diapers and baby clothes when requested.
The commission contributed to the PHC’s 2021 and 2022 5K run/walk fundraiser, with members also volunteering to staff various information booths during the event.
The parish held a trivia night last February, raising $2,000 for the PHC.
Volunteers also served in the PHC’s front office until a full-time receptionist could be hired.
They walk and pray for about 15 minutes, wearing their distinctive blue “REMEMBER the Unborn” shirts.
The school also maintains several prayer boxes that rotate among the school families. Each box contains rosaries, prayer cards, a crucifix and blue and pink slips of paper.
“Families keep the box for a week, praying for an unborn baby and writing names on the slips of paper,” said Westphalia parishioner Kelly Kampeter. “The slips are formed into a prayer chain as a visible reminder of our school families uniting in prayer for these babies and their families.”
The school’s seventh- and eighth-graders attended last year’s Midwest March for Life at the Missouri State Capitol and were honored there as pro-life school of the year.
Parishes and Catholics schools throughout this diocese help in numerous other ways. Follow-up articles will be published in upcoming issues of The Catholic Missourian.