Respect life coordinators across the diocese have asked for more education on life issues and the diocesan Office of Pro-Life Activities has replied. Warriors in the pro-life movement now hold quarterly Vine & Branches meetings to share information and hear from people making decisions that support life.
The purpose of these meetings is to bring together diocesanwide parish respect life committees interested in sharing ideas, success stories and challenges in overcoming obstacles to the daily battle against the culture of death. The name Vine & Branches comes from John 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches." The respect life coordinators are to carry the message of Jesus out to the populous.
The second meeting, held Nov. 7 at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary School in Harris Hill, included two guest speakers, who shared their experiences with unexpected pregnancies. As a teenager, Donna Reese gave her son up for adoption. They reunited 18 years later and have built a close relationship. Both agree that adoption was the best option for them. Tracy, a single woman, became pregnant for the first time at age 42. Due to her age, she was encouraged to consider terminating the pregnancy by medical professionals. The St. Gianna Molla Pregnancy Outreach Center is currently helping her with prenatal care and parenting classes.
The 105 respect life coordinators who gathered also discussed the successes and challenges of their work. "The whole goal of these Vine & Branches meetings is to get people to find effective ways to take action at the parish level," said Cheryl Calire, director of the diocesan Office of Pro-Life Activities.
Calire has begun plans to create an executive committee with leaders specializing in prayer, pastoral care, education and public policy. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has asked that people pour their energy into those four fields.
"We'll have a more effective way to quickly roll the information out," she said. "The whole idea is for them to work in conjunction with our office to really expand our reach. We have a lot of people really excited to get out there and do the work."
The Vine & Branches meetings will continue to be held in various parishes throughout the diocese. Calire cites over 100 people attending a two-hour meeting on Thursday night as a good sign of their willingness to work for the cause.
For more information on Vine & Branches meetings or to start a Respect Life Committee call the office of Pro-Life Activities at 716-847-2205 or email.