Pro-life efforts honored at bishops’ conference

A pro-life blogger, radio host and retreat leader from Omaha and a Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC) retiree from Ashland each received the Gospel of Life Award at the annual Bishops’ Pro-Life Banquet in Lincoln Sept. 29.

And five students, four from two Catholic schools in the Omaha archdiocese, won their divisions in the statewide annual Pro-Life Essay Contest.

Gospel of Life Award winner Cullen Herout, a member of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in Omaha, said it was humbling to be recognized.

"There are so many people doing so much work and living out the call to bring about a culture of life," said Herout, a licensed mental health practitioner who has worked since 2011 with Rachel’s Vineyard, a ministry that holds weekend retreats to help post-abortive women and men heal.

In 2015, Herout launched "Ready to Stand," a pro-life blog, and in 2016, started a weekly radio program heard on Spirit Catholic Radio and posted on his blog. His pro-life writings also have appeared on national websites such as The Federalist, Catholic News Agency, The Washington Examiner and others.

He also has worked closely with the NCC and others to support pro-life legislation in the Nebraska Legislature.

"I’ve seen first-hand the damage abortion brings to the culture and the people who choose it," Herout said, "and it’s been on my heart to work toward ending abortion and help people who have experienced it know there is mercy, forgiveness and healing through Jesus Christ."

Marge Buescher, the other Gospel of Life Award winner, is a member of the Lincoln diocese’s St. Mary Parish in Ashland. She recently retired as NCC’s executive assistant, where she oversaw the organization’s parish pro-life coordinator network. She also worked for the diocese’s Catholic Social Services office in Hastings, and volunteered with Birthright, an organization counseling women experiencing unplanned pregnancies.

The pro-life essay contest winners – seventh-graders through juniors in high school last year – also were honored during the banquet. They were invited to write about how developments in science and technology have strengthened the pro-life argument.

Statewide winners were, with their grades when the essays were written: seventh-grader Aidan Morey and eighth-grader Sydney Schmidt, both of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Omaha; freshman Kolton Koubsky and sophomore Patrick Collins, both of Mount Michael Benedictine School near Elkhorn; and junior Halli Whitten of Lourdes Central Catholic High School in Nebraska City of the Lincoln Diocese.

To read the winning essays from the archdiocese – including all first- through third-place winning entries at the archdiocesan level of the contest – visit and click on the homepage tab, Stories from Our Readers.

During the banquet and the Sept. 30 conference, keynote speaker Wesley Smith, senior fellow with the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism and award-winning author, spoke about bioethics and threats to human dignity. Other speakers included Megan Drapa of the Vitae Foundation, and Karen Bowling and Nate Grasz of the Nebraska Family Alliance.

The event was co-sponsored by the Bishops’ Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities and the NCC, which represents the public policy and legislative interests of Nebraska’s three Catholic bishops. The statewide Knights of Columbus also provided financial support and essay winner prizes.

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