Commentary

FAITHFUL, WATCHFUL CITIZENS: Pro-Life Banquet – Come One, Come All

The annual Bishops’ Pro-Life Banquet and Conference is right around the corner, and you won’t want to miss out! This last year has been one for the record books and there will be much for us to celebrate as a pro-life community as we dive into this year’s banquet and conference theme, “And the Word Became Flesh.” You can register at www.NEcatholic.org.

This year’s banquet will take place on Friday, Sept. 23rd, and the conference follows on Saturday, Sept. 24th. All of the activities will take place at the Embassy Suites in downtown Lincoln.

This year’s theme will address the problem of effectively communicating the pro-life message in a post-Christian and an ever-changing digital era. We will do this by focusing on the model and life of Jesus Christ as the way forward for our pro-life efforts.

When Our Lord became man, he shared the Gospel in word and action. He met sinners where they were and knew how to communicate to their hearts and minds for conversion. The laity, as the body of Christ, must be equipped to imitate our Lord more perfectly as they meet the challenges of this culture where it is. Throughout the weekend, we will encourage contemporary, data-driven pro-life messaging and media in the digital age, featuring local and national talent.

Rather than exhaustively detail everything about both the banquet and the conference into one column, I want to focus on the banquet this week – and next week I will focus on the conference. Either way, though, you’ll want to register for both!

The banquet evening features a cocktail hour at 5:30 p.m. followed by dinner, an awards ceremony, and the keynote address. We are thrilled for this year’s keynote speaker, Sister Mary Grace of the Sisters of Life. Sister Mary Grace is the coordinator of the evangelization mission for the Sisters of Life.

The Sisters of Life are “women who are in love with Love – Love Incarnate, crucified, and Risen – and captivated by the truth of the beauty of every human person, created in God’s image and likeness.” 

The Sisters of Life were founded by Cardinal John O’Connor (Archbishop of New York) in 1991 with the special charism and apostolate to serve the pro-life cause. Their missions “include serving women who are vulnerable to abortion; giving them the support and resources to be able to choose life for themselves and their children; hosting weekend retreats; evangelization; outreach to college students; and helping women who have suffered after abortion to encounter the mercy and healing of Jesus Christ.”

The Sisters of Life embody this year’s keynote theme of communicating effectively and imitating Christ’s charity in their every encounter with the human person.

This year’s emcee will be J.D. Flynn. J.D. is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Pillar, which is – in my humble opinion – the premier Catholic news outlet in America. Prior to this venture, J.D. served as Bishop James D. Conley’s special assistant for several years in the Diocese of Lincoln. J.D.’s sure to have some keen insights on the Church’s pro-life efforts, and just as many good jokes. You won’t want to miss them!

At the banquet we will also be honoring our annual Gospel of Life award winners, Dr. Tom and Sue Hilgers of the Saint Paul VI Institute. Dr. Hilgers and Sue have been tireless activists, advocates and cutting edge researchers in the pro-life movement for over 50 years. Dr. Hilgers and Sue have helped countless families across the world with their fertility, and we are honored to honor their dedication to the movement.

And last, but certainly not least, all three bishops will be in attendance, so come and enjoy a drink and an evening of pro-life celebration with our wonderful shepherds!

In short, to use boxing terms, we have some heavyweights that you won’t want to miss hearing from and celebrating at this year’s banquet.

Without going into much detail at this juncture, on Saturday, Sept. 24th, the conference for pro-life leaders and volunteers commences at 8:30 a.m with Liturgy of the Hours, followed by presentations with Q&A from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. But more about that next week.

For now, get yourself registered for both the banquet and conference at www.NEcatholic.org. And don’t forget to tell your family, friends and fellow parishioners. Come one, come all!

Tom Venzor is executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference. Email him at tvenzor@necatholic.org.