October Marks Respect Life Month: A Call to Cherish and Protect Every Life

North Texas Catholic
(Oct 5, 2023) Local

Roxanna Young, the executive director of Flourishing Tree of Life, a local pro-life pregnancy resource center, attends the 40 Days for Life kickoff rally on Sept. 28, 2022. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

FORT WORTH- When Maria Walter’s mother discovered that she was pregnant, she knew her life would change drastically. With no husband, she would be demoted from her rank in the military and met with disapproval from her family.

She told her family about the unexpected pregnancy only two weeks before she gave birth, and a friend drove her to the hospital for her delivery. Neither her family nor her child’s biological father were present.

The situation Maria’s mother faced is just one example of many. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s data from 2019, the most recent year available, indicates that 35 percent of pregnancies were unplanned.

To better serve women in need, the Diocese of Fort Worth has set aside the month of October as Respect Life Month, with a focus on the theme of “radical solidarity.” The month is intended to both help women in need and raise awareness about positive resources.

“Radical solidarity is the virtue that's needed to walk with moms in need so that we can minister to them in the way that God might be calling us to do so,” said Terri Schauf, the diocesan Respect Life coordinator, highlighting the theme’s importance.

“As Catholics, I think it's important to consider how beautiful it is that the Church has set aside this month as Respect Life Month, to help people become aware of the Church's teaching on life issues and to help people become aware of resources in the diocese and across the country,” said Schauf.

Coordinator Emma Bouillion sorts donations as volunteers organize a new baby closet at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton that will act as a supply depot for Catholic Charities’ Gabriel Project, which provides baby items and other help for women in crisis pregnancies. (NTC/Rodger Mallison)

To participate in Respect Life Month, the diocese and parishes will host events that raise awareness, collect needed items, or promote community prayers for women in need.

On October 14, Bishop Michael Olson will celebrate the annual Memorial Mass for Babies who died before Baptism at 10 a.m. at St. Patrick Cathedral. The intention of the Mass is to help parents heal from the grief of losing children through miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion.

Unexpected pregnancies affect women throughout the diocese. While many resources for women claim to help women in need, many do not follow pro-life Catholic teaching.

To combat the uncertainty surrounding resource centers, Good Shepherd Parish in Colleyville worked to identify all the organizations within the Fort Worth diocese that would help a mother in need.

They called each business and vetted them to ensure that they followed Catholic teaching, narrowing it down to 80 pro-life resources that would be helpful to women in need. Then, they developed a page on their website to share them all in one place.

This list includes everything from legal aid to dentists, housing, counseling, and more. The page shares a list of resources and a map so that women may also find needed resources based on proximity.

Katie Walters with her sons, 10-year-old Conner, left, and two-month-old Charlie, right, sorts and folds baby clothes for the baby closet at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. (NTC/Rodger Mallison)

“It's one thing to be pro-life, but it's also very important to help the moms in need who say ‘yes,’” said Teri Gray, the pro-life coordinator at Good Shepherd. “This is why we've been successful in getting a lot of parishioners involved in this. We love all the good work that these resources do.”

Through this work, Good Shepherd has not only been able to promote positive resources for women in need but also help the organizations communicate better. According to Gray, Good Shepherd has facilitated communication between these organizations, allowing them to share surplus supplies with locations that may not have as much, so that all of these resources may better serve the women in their care.

But while much of the pro-life movement focuses on the pressing issues of protecting women in need and their unborn children, parishes within the diocese have ensured that the pro-life mission does not stop there.

Just as the pro-life mission extends from conception until natural death, so too do the diocesan activities reflect this focus this October. While the Rachel Ministry retreats provide a safe and compassionate place of healing for those who are recovering from the pain of abortion, an Aging with Grace workshop, focused on helping parishioners settle their advanced directives with church guidance, will take place in Wichita Falls at the end of the month.

One of the many signs pro-life advocates carry to remind others of the sanctity of life.

“Being pro-life is truly taking a crisis or life issue — and we all have life issues — and helping others through what, for them, at that moment, can be very tragic, hard, and uncertain. That's respecting life,” said Maria Walters, who is now the pro-life coordinator at St. Mark in Argyle, having been inspired by her mother’s courage in choosing life.

This Respect Life Month, learn about resources and events set to support people in need. You can get involved and support others in need in a variety of ways, no matter where you live in the diocese.

Learn more about Respect Life Events.

See the calendar for all diocesan events.

View Good Shepherd's list of pro-life resources.

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