Catholic Services Appeal – Pro-life

| January 18, 2012 | 0 Comments

As the Feb. 18-19 announcement weekend approaches for the 2012 Catholic Services Appeal, The Catholic Spirit will be spotlighting various ministries supported by the CSA. This edition focuses on the pro-life efforts and other ministries of the archdiocesan Office of Marriage, Family and Life. Read more about the CSA here in February.

CSA contributions help post-abortion victims find road to healing

By Pat Norby

Fr. Kevin Clinton

Healing men and women through Project Rachel is more than an individual or church ministry, it is a ministry that affects the entire society, said Father Kevin Clinton, who has served in post-abortion ministry for more than 30 years.

“Post-abortion wounding and injury is not just a Catholic issue, it’s a human issue,” said Father Clinton, pastor of St. Wenceslaus in New Prague. “The bigger the wound, the bigger the injury, the more we kick into denial.”

Today’s culture is lying when it tells people that an abortion is not the termination of a human individual’s life, he said. In fact, it is the life of someone who is the son or daughter of the woman and man who aborted their child.

There is often a sense that “someone has to be punished for the loss of this life,” he said. “And with everyone saying ‘it’s your choice, it’s your choice, it’s your choice,’” those who undergo an abortion “punish themselves for decades.”

The heaviness of the many abortions in this country makes it “collectively very dangerous for our whole society,” he said. “From my point of view on the pro-life movement, the cutting edge on confronting the culture’s insanity in this area is getting post-abortion people healed and articulating their experience.”

Many ministries get support

The post-abortion healing ministry of Project Rachel is one of the many ministries that is offered through the archdiocesan Office of Marriage, Family and Life and supported by the Catholic Services Appeal. (See a list of other ministries in the office at far right.) The MFL office will receive $618,000 this year from the Appeal, according to CSA officials.

Sharon Wilson, who coordinates Respect Life efforts in the MFL office, said the archdiocese was the first in the country to offer post-abortion ministry. Besides the one-on-one work done by Father Clinton and Father Michael Izen, Wilson also helps connect men and women seeking help for post-abortion pain to Rachel’s Vineyard weekend retreats.

Contributions to the CSA help make a difference in the lives of those seeking post-abortion healing as well as those who benefit from other respect life ministries.

“I try to create a concrete liaison between national and here and among parishes” on various life issues, Wilson said. She coordinates education, advocacy, pastoral care and prayer, but she emphasizes that outreach happens in parishes.

Annual events that Wilson coordinates include: Mass for God’s Children for parents grieving the loss of a child; Champions for Life Awards and Birth Mother’s Retreat. She also coordinates In His Time support for people dealing with infertility.

Some people have requested more Catholic teaching on the issue of infertility, so Wilson has posted information on the archdiocesan website.

Life issues create trauma

Father Clinton said that when people  experience a major trauma, they protect their psyches by going into denial and disassociating from the trauma.

“We see this in PTSD men and women in the military who have gone through the war experience where their lives are on the line or they’ve seen other friends [killed],” he said. “I continue to be amazed that people who had the abortion experience years ago — when you go into this area with them and the brakes come off and they are in a safe environment — it’s like the abortion happened yesterday.”

Father Izen said he had a lot of apprehension the first evening of the first Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat weekend he attended last year.

“I was the one priest there and they’re looking at me for the answers and as a representative of the church and thinking maybe the church is not going to accept them. But they were in a much better place on Sunday,” said Father Izen, who will begin serving as pastor of St. Raphael in Crystal on Feb. 1, following his current assignment at St. Timothy in Maple Lake.

His part in the weekend was to show them the church cares about them and loves them and that God’s mercy is “greater than anything we could come up with,” he said.

Through the retreat and shadowing Father Clinton and some personal experiences, Father Izen said he has more understanding of the pain caused by abortion and more compassion for those who have not sought healing.

“Sometimes the homily [on the pro-life theme] neglects the fact that there are people out there hurting,” he said. “Rather than just hitting the pro-life message that abortion is wrong, it’s important to realize that those who have already made a mistake might need to be reassured that the church is not condemning them and wants them to come to us. And that God’s mercy is bigger.”

‘Many are the promises of God’ is 2012 Appeal theme

“Many are the promises of God” is the theme of the 2012 Catholic Services Appeal.

After using the theme “We are One Body” for the past three years, Archbishop John Nienstedt said he wanted to weave the theme of the Scriptures being proclaimed during the CSA announcement weekend, Feb. 18-19, into the theme of this year’s Appeal, said Michael Halloran, Cath­olic Services Appeal director.

“It makes it consistent with the readings because so much of the Appeal is tied to the worship of the Mass,” Halloran explained. The combined themes from St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians tie together the communication and invitation to participate in both the Mass and the Appeal.

After the announcement weekend, Catholics will be asked to make a commitment to the Appeal the following weekend, Feb. 25-26.

The $9.3 million financial goal this year remains the same as last year’s goal, Halloran said. But, more important is the participation goal.

“Our goal is to get as many Catholics involved in the Catholic Services Appeal as possible,” he said. “Last year, we had about 62,000 households give and that was consistent with the year prior. We would like to grow that because every gift is important to the shared ministries.”

This year, the CSA office is again offering ministry discovery visits, followed by dinner with the archbishop. Participants will take buses to one of three sites that are supported by the CSA before going to the dinner.

This year, however, there will be two days and cities to choose from. The first one will take place Jan. 31 with ministry visits on the east side of the Mississippi River, ending with dinner at St. Peter in Mendota Heights. A second set of ministry discovery visits will take place Feb. 8 on the west side of the Mississippi River, ending with dinner at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis.

“It was very popular last year. And we have had a popular response to the invitations this year,” he said. “The important thing is telling the story of lives impacted, lives changed and lives saved because of the support of the Catholic Services Appeal.”

In addition to seeing how lives are impacted in the ministry visits, Halloran said the real life stories of three ministries supported by the Catholic Services Appeal will be woven throughout all the CSA promotional materials. The featured ministries are Catholic Charities’ eldercare services, Catholic education and the seminary.

More  ministries

Marriage prep:
Living God’s Love helps engaged couples prepare for the sacrament of marriage with presentations by priests, educators, physicians and married couples.

Persons with disabilities:
Outreach to Persons with disabilities seeks to implement the U.S. bishops’ pastoral statement to include all persons in the life of the church.

Youth and young Adults:
Early Catholic Family Life is a parent-child program to learn more about passing on the faith. All in God’s Plan assists families in teaching youth about sexuality and the sacredness of human life. Youth events include World Youth Day and National Catholic Youth Council.

Annual events:

Women’s retreat
Men’s conference
Single parents retreat
Rosary procession
White Mass for medical professionals
Blue Mass for civil servants
Family forum
Marriage Day
Prayer Service for Life
Mass for Persons with disabilities
Mass for God’s Children
Adoption Mass
Birth Mother’s Retreat
Veteran’s Mass

And more on the website:

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Category: Catholic Services Appeal