Showing respect for life takes many forms

October is Respect Life Month, a time for Catholics to rededicate themselves to the concept that all life is sacred from conception to natural death. The Diocese of Jackson and parishes offer a variety of ways to show respect for life including education, prayer and advocacy.
The Knights of Columbus, known for their work in the respect life arena, sponsored silver rose prayer services across the state. The rose is a symbol of Our Lady of Guadalupe, sometimes called the protectress of the unborn. There are actually 12 silver roses that travel from Canada, across the U.S. and Mexico until the bouquet ends up at the basilica in Monterrey, Mexico on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dec. 12.

The Knights of Columbus hosted the Silver Rose, a symbol of respect for life, at St. Richard Parish in Jackson. (Photo by Leila De Gruy)

The Knights of Columbus hosted the Silver Rose, a symbol of respect for life, at St. Richard Parish in Jackson. (Photo by Leila De Gruy)

The knights use the Silver Roses as reminders of Catholic unity and the sanctity of human life. When a rose visits a parish the knights host a prayer service.
Teenagers can show some ‘selfie-respect’ through a national photo contest sponsored by March for Life. According to the group’s website students in sixth – 12th grade can participate. “Submit a ‘selfie’ or picture of yourself, a family member, friend or person you admire capturing an event or accomplishment that in some way helps to build a culture of life in your local community,” state the instructions on the website.
“Possible activities to photograph might include praying in front of an abortion clinic, volunteering at a pregnancy resource center, working at a fundraiser for moms in need, involvement with a school pro-life club, or any number of activities which further a culture of life in your community,” it adds. The prizes include gift cards for iTunes, donations to the respect life cause of the winner’s choice and recognition at the March for Life in Washington DC in January. Enter online at
The diocese is again sending a bus to the March this year. Youth groups have until Oct. 17 to sign up for spots on the bus using the website Those who wish to speak up locally can sign up for 40 days for life, a program of prayer, fasting and advocacy. A group kicked off a prayer vigil at the last abortion clinic in Mississippi on Wednesday, Sept. 24. Those who wish to join the effort can sign up at Search for the Mississippi event.
A prayer rally kicked off 40 days of prayer, fasting and advocacy at the Women’s Health Clinic in Jackson, the last abortion clinic in the state. (Photo by Maureen Smith)

A prayer rally kicked off 40 days of prayer, fasting and advocacy at the Women’s Health Clinic in Jackson, the last abortion clinic in the state. (Photo by Maureen Smith)

Respect for life also includes taking a stand against violence. Runners and walkers can make a statement by joining in the Purple Dress Run dedicated to raising money and awareness for domestic violence survivors. Grab your running shoes and favorite purple “dress” for a sunset 5K Run/Walk through downtown Jackson Thursday, Oct. 23, at Jaco’s Tacos, 318 South State Street.
The event, set to kick off with registration at 5 p.m. and race start at 6 p.m., is sponsored by the Domestic Violence Services Center of Catholic Charities and Jaco’s Tacos. At the end, participants are invited for a celebration at Jaco’s Tacos.
The entry fee is $35 for individual runners and $100 for a team of four. Walk-up registrations will be accepted as well on race day. Prizes will be awarded for top male/female participants and best male/female costume.
To register online
Parish events may include crisis pregnancy center fund-raisers, life chains or prayer vigils. A number of events are featured on page 2 of this edition of Mississpppi Catholic.

Respect Life theme calls for daily conversion, action

091914respectlifeBy Maureen Smith
October is observed in the church as Respect Life Month, a time to focus on issues of life and human dignity, including the death penalty, abortion, euthanasia and respect and care for the disabled. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has posted prayers, artwork and activities on its website to help parishes and individuals celebrate this month.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap., the chairman for the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, wrote a statement about this year’s theme, “Each of us is a masterpiece of God’s creation,” in which he explains how our everyday actions can have a profound impact on this issue.
The theme comes from Pope Francis’ 2013 Respect Life Day statement when he said, “even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.”
Cardinal O’Malley writes about how Pope Francis has lived out this statement in his care for the poor, the marginalized, the elderly and those who are ill. He writes that we are all called to this kind of life. “Our mission is to show each person the love of Christ. As uniquely created individuals, we each have unique gifts which we are called to use to share Christ’s love. We are continually given opportunities to do so in our interactions with the cashier at the grocery store, our spouses, children, friends and even the people we encounter in traffic. Each of these moments is valuable beyond our realization. We may never know how much a simple gesture of compassion may affect someone’s life,” writes the cardinal.
He wrote about how people in modern society are isolated and often feel like abortion or suicide is their only choice. “The Church’s antidote to an individualism which threatens the respect for human dignity is community and solidarity,” wrote Cardinal O’Malley.
Locally, Catholics are invited to participate in “40 Days for Life,” an ecumenical program of prayer, fasting and advocacy to end abortion. The campaign kicks off with a rally outside Mississippi’s only remaining abortion clinic on State Street in Jackson on Wednesday, Sept. 24, at noon. People can then sign up for shifts to stand outside the clinic in prayer.
All participants must sign a pledge to be peaceful and to treat everyone, including clinic workers and supporters, with respect. Volunteers can sign up online at Search for the Mississippi event.
Teenagers can also sign up for the January March for Life in Washington. The deadline to register on is Oct. 17.
“Love and justice must motivate each of us to work for a transformation of our own hearts so that we can transform the world around us. This is the message of Pope Francis. May the Risen Lord put the Gospel of joy into our hearts so that we may bear witness to the greatest love story ever told,” concludes Cardinal O’Malley’s letter. The full text of the letter is available at in the Respect Life section of the website.