MADISON -- This coming weekend, dioceses all over the country will be celebrating Respect Life Sunday, Oct. 7, where as Catholics we join together to acknowledge and profess the inestimable value of each and every human being from the moment of conception to natural death.
We will also voice our collective opposition to the injustice, cruelty, and tragedy of abortion and mourn all of its victims -- including the mothers and fathers who grieve the loss of these irreplaceable children.
At the same time we will remind these living victims of abortion that the mercy of God is greater than any sin and that healing and peace can be theirs through the grace of Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and cultivated in the Church’s Project Rachel Ministry.
We also commit ourselves to doing more to protect the weak, the defenseless, and those in special need.
Respect Life Collection
In 2005 Bishop Robert C. Morlino asked for a special collection to be initiated during the beginning of October, Respect Life Month, to assist in efforts “to build a Culture of Life” and support “a network of safety and refuge, so that every woman in the Diocese of Madison would know of our care and concern.”
Since this initiative was started, the Respect Life Collection has provided significant help to organizations which seek to provide refuge to the vulnerable.
One local recipient has been Elizabeth House of Care Net Pregnancy Center on Madison’s east side. Elizabeth House provides a home for up to 12 young pregnant mothers along with a means to study, plan their futures, and learn parenting skills.
“A basic moral test for our society is how we treat the most vulnerable among us. In the case of crisis pregnancies, preborn children and their mothers are extremely vulnerable and often have no place to turn for refuge and safety,” said Bishop Morlino.
“The Diocese of Madison is happy to support The Elizabeth House as one important means of helping build a network of safety and refuge so that young mothers in these vulnerable situations may have access to such a safe haven, counseling, parenting instruction, and other vital services. In a society where one in four preborn children are horrendously lost due to surgical abortion, The Elizabeth House provides rest, refuge, and safety for mothers who choose life,” said Bishop Morlino.
An example of such a beneficiary is Michelle, who came to Elizabeth House in February of 2011 in a desperate situation. Being described by one reference as a young girl who had “raised herself” and “never been parented,” Michelle was pregnant and her parents were unable to help her.
She had also just recently left her aunt’s home after refusing to abort her child. Such stress even caused her to collapse in the stairway at Elizabeth House following her interview for entry.
After 13 months, Michelle had “graduated” from Elizabeth House having accomplished every goal she had set for herself: she had passed her exam to become a state certified nurse aid, received several job offers, secured her own apartment, child care, and most important of all, had the gift of her new beautiful daughter embraced in her arms.
Elizabeth House had provided food, clothing, laundry, sheets, diapers, and “a stable environment” for Michelle during her pregnancy early maternity.
Michelle stated, “Without The Elizabeth House I would have been lost. They are second parents for those that don’t have real parents. They taught me how to get along with others and motivated me to go to school and get a job.” More importantly, “they prayed with me and showed me God's love.”
“We are grateful for the partnership between the Diocese of Madison and The Elizabeth House program as we seek to help young moms get off to a great start with their infants,” said Annetta Wright, director of The Elizabeth House.
Other more recent recipients of assistance from the Respect Life Collection have been the Women’s Care Center, which provides counseling and ultrasounds across the street from Madison’s local abortion center on the east side; the Pregnancy Helpline, which maintains a 24-hour telephone assistance line for mothers in difficult situations while also providing an abundance of baby supplies to mothers in need; and Beloit’s Stateline Pregnancy Clinic, which provides many of these same functions in the southern part of our diocese.
This coming year, the Respect Life Collection seeks to maintain and increase the support for their current beneficiaries and other educational efforts which seek to proclaim and advance a culture of love and life in our midst.
We ask for your substantial assistance with this year’s Respect Life Collection that the Diocese of Madison may help such services of charity and social educational efforts “to bring the Gospel of life to the heart of every man and woman and to make it penetrate every part of society” (Blessed John Paul II).