SUSAN SZALEWSKI/STAFF

Commentary

FAITHFUL, WATCHFUL CITIZENS: Pro-Life Conference – Don’t Miss Out!

The countdown is on for this year’s Bishops Pro-Life Banquet and Conference – the state’s greatest pro-life dinner and educational conference. You know what this means: take out your mobile device or jump on your computer, go to www.NEcatholic.org, and get yourself registered! If you would like to register by calling the Nebraska Catholic Conference office, please feel free to do so (402.477.7517).

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 – “And the Word Was Made Flesh” – has us diving deep into 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.

Last go around, I provided an overview of the banquet dinner; our keynote speaker, Sister Mary Grace; our emcee, J.D. Flynn; our Gospel of Life Award honorees, Dr. Tom and Sue Hilgers. This go around, I want to entice your attendance by giving you a sneak peak at who will speak at our conference on Saturday, the 24th.

We are going to kick off the conference with the same powerhouse duo you’ll mostly be hearing from at the banquet: Sister Mary Grace and J.D. Flynn. Sister Mary Grace and J.D. will dive into both an analysis of our cultural situation and how we, as individual pro-lifers and as a pro-life community, can understand ourselves in this cultural moment. This talk is promised to be incisive and insightful and will be a solid foundation for the rest of the day.

Next, we will hear from Erika Bacchiochi. Erika is a legal scholar and Fellow with both the Ethics and Public Policy Center and the Abigail Adams Institute. She is an expert on feminist legal theory, Catholic social teaching and sexual ethics. Erika also happens to be one of my favorite legal and cultural thinkers. She is brilliant, and I think you’ll agree after you hear her. She will take us back in time to the early feminist and, by doing so, will help us reclaim a lost vision of what it means to truly care for women, babies and their families.

After that, we will be hearing from Kat Talalas and Bernadette Tasy. Kat serves as the assistant director for Pro-Life Communications with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Pro-Life Secretariat. Bernadette serves as the media relations manager for Alliance Defending Freedom. Kat and Bernadette will both provide insights into research-based, proven and effective messaging that can help the pro-life message.

In the afternoon, we will have – as we did last year – a lighting round session. This year’s will feature Dennis Kellogg and Dr. Maria Benes. Dennis is the communications director for the Diocese of Lincoln. Dr. Benes is the founder and co-director of the Before Gethsemane Initiative. Each speaker will provide a mini-session’s worth of insights into their areas of expertise. Dennis, who previously worked as a news director for over 20 years in the secular sphere, will shed light on how pro-lifers can charitably respond to the seemingly constant media bias in favor of the pro-abortion agenda. Dr. Benes will discuss how issues of race, poverty and abortion intersect and how understanding this can drive broader pro-life outreach and initiatives.

To end the day, Marion Miner, associate director for pro-life and family with the Nebraska Catholic Conference, will lead a public policy panel featuring several public officials. This panel will take a dive into what it means for the pro-life movement to further its work of embracing women and abandoning abortion.

All things considered, this is a line-up you won’t want to miss out on. It will be jam-packed with content that you will be able to take back to your communities as you carry out the Gospel of Life.

We hope to see you there, so don’t hesitate to register at www.NEcatholic.org.

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