Father Carmody’s legacy continues to be felt
COLORADO SPRINGS. Father Bill Carmody was known for his firm belief that young people were the best hope of the pro-life movement, and that belief was born out in the results of the Pro-Life Project Contest that was held in conjunction with the Bishop’s Respect Life Dinner.
For this year’s contest, teens ages 13-18 were asked to design a billboard message with the theme “Every Life Is Worth Living” to raise awareness of the issue of physician-assisted suicide.
Diego Rojas, Elizabeth Vall and David VanRemortel — eighth-graders at St. Paul School — worked together to come up with the winning design, which contains the message “Kill the Pain, Not the Patient: Vote No on Proposition 106.” They were guided by Sister of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration Frances Sedlacek, an eighth-grade religion teacher at St. Paul.
Students at St. Paul researched the issue of physician-assisted suicide in their Social Studies class and also studied the “Blue Book” that was mailed to voters in Colorado, Sister Frances said. She said she thinks that the project not only educated the students but prompted them to discuss the issue with their parents.
The three contest winners said that the project was also a good reminder that opposition to physician-assisted suicide is part of a broader pro-life message.
“I feel good about myself knowing that I can put out the message to people about how suicide is bad and we shouldn’t have it in any form,” VanRemortel said. “It’s not okay to make these decisions for people. I feel like there are instances where people might not have a choice.”
“God gave us our life, and it’s not our choice when to take it — it’s his choice,” Rojas said.
“Suicide doesn’t stop the pain, it just passes it on to someone else,” Vall said.
The Respect Life Dinner was also an occasion to remember Father Carmody’s efforts on behalf of people suffering from the effects of past abortions. On Aug. 8, Father Carmody was posthumously given a “Person of Life” Award by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Pro-Life Secretariat. Rhonda Miller, a close friend of Father Carmody and a facilitator of Project Rachel ministry for post-abortive women and men, traveled to Rye, New York, to accept the award, which was presented by Cardinal Timothy Dolan. The event was attended by Respect Life directors from around the country, many of whom reported being influenced by Father Carmody’s work.
“I was amazed at how many of Father Bill’s peers shared my deep grief at his passing, and equally amazed by how many looked to Father Bill as a leader in the pro-life and Project Rachel movements,” Miller told The Colorado Catholic Herald. “I realized later that the Respect Life directors hadn’t had the opportunity to attend Father Bill’s funeral, and that the occasion of this award had been a time to collectively grieve and honor a man they so deeply admired. So many people came up to me after the award to talk about their love and respect for Father Bill.”
Even after his death, Father Carmody’s work in developing Project Rachel continues to have an impact, Miller said.
“Several directors asked me about the Project Rachel healing program that Father Bill had developed,” Miller said. “They wanted to find a way to capture this knowledge now that he was gone. Bishop David Ricken from Green Bay knew and admired Father Bill and asked me to send him a copy of our Project Rachel manual.”
“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of Father Bill — talk to him, pray to him and miss him,” Miller said. “I have stepped up my work and dedication to our diocesan Project Rachel team and Project Rachel Colorado statewide team in his honor. I know this same thing is being done in every pro-life activity and group in our diocese by the many people who worked alongside Father Bill. They are picking up the pieces, slowly moving forward and honoring Father Bill with their work for life.”