By Kent Ferris
I recently received a phone call from a lay leader in our diocese. I was asked several questions: Is the pro-life effort addressed in the Diocese of Davenport’s Capital Campaign? What percentage of my time as director of the Office of Social Action is spent attending to pro-life issues? Wouldn’t I agree that not enough is being done about the estimated 3,500 abortions that take place annually in our diocese?
Pro-life efforts and the capital campaign
Bishop Martin Amos has described our present campaign, Moving Forward in Faith and Hope, as the means of providing “greatly needed resources as we attempt to live out our mission to go and make disciples.” The Office of Social Action, with its focus on social justice and charity, integral parts of the Gospel message and our Catholic faith, will benefit by campaign efforts. Social Action will also be charged with the task of coordinating efforts, providing services and addressing social justice issues in ways that we’ve not previously had the means to do. Those efforts will require being mindful of the full spectrum of life issues from conception to natural death, and also the scourge of abortion.
Respect Life Coordinator Jeanne Wonio has begun work on a calendar that can be used by local parishes to plan programs relating to life issues. Based partly, but not exclusively on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Respect Life fall campaign, this calendar will include noteworthy events such as the annual March for Life rally commemorating the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion and Natural Family Planning month. It will also include events or ideas that speak to the broader range of life issues such as the annual statewide promotion of hawk-i health insurance program for uninsured children of working families, and the national promotion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC) designed to subsidize low-wage working families.
These new undertakings, along with the rich tradition of social justice efforts, speak to the diocesan concern for life in ways that can’t easily be described in the few short paragraphs within campaign materials.
Percentage of time as Director of Social Action devoted to pro-life issues
The director of Social Action is responsible for initiating, managing, leading and guiding the social ministry of the diocese, interacting with other social action organizations on a local, regional and national basis, developing a network of social action volunteers and leaders around the diocese, providing leadership training opportunities for parish leaders amongst other development and assistance tasks undertaken with other diocesan offices. There is no percentage breakdown of what part of my position is involved in pro-life efforts. Even so, almost every effort I undertake has something directly related to social justice and charity and a concern for life across the full spectrum.
I want to express my gratitude to the volunteers who serve as local coordinators of national campaigns including the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Catholic Relief Services, Operation Rice Bowl and Respect Life and, at the state level with the Iowa Catholic Conference and the Governor’s Long Term Disaster Recovery Commission. Their efforts, along with volunteers who serve on our Social Action Team and commission and in local parishes in conjunction with parish Social Action committees, absolutely make all the difference. “We” accomplish much more than “I” ever could.
Wouldn’t I agree that not enough is being done about the estimated 3,500 abortions that take place annually in our diocese?
There is clearly more work to be done. We need more people to pray, more to be involved in annual memorials noting an abhorrent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, and more people to end the stigmatization of single-parent families, if a young mother makes the choice to give birth to her child, but has no support from the father. We also need to acknowledge the quiet, unassuming efforts already being undertaken by people throughout our diocese including those who donate personal care items to young mothers choosing to remain in high school and get their high school diplomas, the strong committed voices of those who’ve lobbied for healthcare reform while not expanding coverage for abortions, and for the broad array of social justice efforts that speak to the sanctity of life.
How can we make sure that “enough is done”?
In his introductory comments in the Moving Forward in Faith and Hope materials, Bishop Amos asks us to:
“Please pray with me as we move forward with this capital campaign. I invite you to deeply consider your level of participation as you make a sacrificial gift for the future of our church in southeastern Iowa.”
If allowed, I would like to add to the bishop’s prayer:
"Please pray that sacrificial gifts of time and talent accompany the gifts of treasures within our campaign, in order that all the work that needs to be undertaken will be done."
And, as the prayer for the campaign concludes:
"O Lord, grant that all we do
by our labor, love and devotion
may reflect the glory of your great name
through Christ our Lord
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit.
(Ferris is Social Action Director for the Davenport Diocese.)