New Paradigm - Give thanks for Dobbs ruling but keep working for culture of life, speakers say
By Veronica Ambuul
COLORADO SPRINGS. At the first Bishop’s Respect Life Dinner to take place following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade last June, local pro-life leaders explained how the ruling is impacting Colorado and challenged local Catholics to change the way they think and speak about abortion.
Speaking to an audience of more than 900 people gathered at Broadmoor Hall on Oct. 27, Bishop James Golka outlined the diocese’s response to the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Health Services, which found that there is no right to abortion in the U.S. constitution. “I’m 56 years old and never thought I would see that in my lifetime,” Bishop Golka said. “But we know what happened right after that — every state was given the right to individually regulate access to abortion. Since a number of states around us have decided to restrict abortion, we’ve become a destination for those abortions. The diocese’s Respect Life Apostolate is responding by helping to train a number of sidewalk advocates — they’re my heroes and they increase our peaceful presence here in Colorado Springs.” “Sidewalk advocates and Forty Days for Life participants have noted an increase in traffic at Planned Parenthood, but that increase in traffic has also resulted in more conversations and more referrals to Life Network’s pregnancy centers,” said Julie Bailey, Director of the Respect Life Apostolate of the Diocese of Colorado Springs. “Through Gabriel Project, we are equipping people in our parishes to walk with moms in need.”
Bishop Golka began the awards portion of the dinner by recognizing his mother, Patricia, who served as the long-time head of Nebraska Right to Life and was present for the event along with her husband Robert and daughter Sheryl. He also presented two awards to local leaders in the pro-life movement.
Ashley Slack, a member of St. Benedict Parish in Falcon, was given the “2022 Respect Life Volunteer of the Year” award for working to establish the diocesan “Heart of My Heart” ministry for families experiencing miscarriage and infant loss, which she began after suffering a miscarriage herself.
Slack “turned a personal family tragedy into an impactful diocesan ministry,” Bishop Golka said. “She realized there was a great need for resources to help families experiencing miscarriage and infant loss. When she searched for such resources and found there were very few, she developed them herself and built a ministry from scratch to ensure that no other family would experience the frustration of searching for and not finding help.”
The 2022 Father Bill Carmody Defender of Life Award was given to Jack and Bernadette Johnston of St. Paul Parish.
“They not only served their parish for many years in pro-life leadership; they also took their passion for celebrating life out into the community through three decades of leadership in Pikes Peak Citizens for Life,” Bishop Golka said.
Keynote speaker Deacon Rob Rysavy focused on the research done by the Missouri-based Vitae Foundation that uncovers why and how women make a decision to abort.
Vitae’s research shows that it is more effective for pro-life advocates to speak to a mother about her goals and plans for the future than about her unborn baby and adoption, he said.
“What she is feeling — consciously or unconsciously — is the death of her future self,” said Deacon Rysavy said. “Talk to her about her. Then you may be able to talk to her about the humanity of her unborn baby.”