Speakers motivate Respect Life coordinators at meeting

COLUMBIA — South Carolina’s Respect Life coordinators received motivation to keep the pro-life movement growing  and  to combine their resources recently.
The Diocese of Charleston’s Office of Family Life sponsored a coordinator’s meeting  Sept. 13 at St. John Neumann Church. Participants heard from four speakers who shared unique insights into the needs of pro-life efforts. They also discussed innovative ways to spread the respect-life message.
Connor Gallagher of St. Benedict Press talked about how spiritual classics speak clearly to the needs of the pro-life movement in the United States.
“The spiritual formation of the pro-life movement is no different than the spiritual formation of you and me,” Gallagher said.
He emphasized that, at its foundation, the pro-life movement is a spiritual one. Gallagher addressed practical moral issues that many who labor for life face. Specifically, he called upon the audience to reflect on loving ways to respond to women and men  in their own communities who are facing unplanned pregnancies.
The meeting also provided  respect life coordinators with research and information on how to explain the newest discoveries regarding life issues.
Dr. Martha Shuping is a post-abortion ministry advisor for the Office of Family Life. She focused on a recent American Psychological Association statement that left many people confused about the psychological effects of abortion on women.
The recent statement suggests that abortion could not be the direct cause of psychological trauma, she said.
Dr. Shuping pointed out, however, that there are some omissions from the APA’s conclusions and there is solid evidence contained in many studies that shows the negative psychological effects of abortion.
The Respect Life coordinators expressed gratitude at having this issue explained by an expert.
“We need to work on our filtering system,” said Katie Orbon of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Mauldin. “We need to see what is being given to us versus the truth.”
Dr. Shuping also re-emphasized the great need for active post-abortion ministry.
“If moms are healed they aren’t driving their daughters to the clinic,” she said. “If nurses are healed they aren’t  pushing abortions on women. We need healing.”
Speakers also discussed  new ways to spread their message.
Tom Peterson, president of Virtue Media and Catholics Come Home, showed several television commercials designed by his media group to help women in crisis pregnancy situations and to reach out to women in need of post-abortion healing.
Virtue Media’s commercials are aired on national networks  and have been met with a staggering response. Upon seeing the advertisements, many of the approximately 30 coordinators who attended were energized to help.
“I loved the presentation on Virtue Media,” said Roger Schonewald of St Mary Magdalene Church in Simpsonville. “Clearly, the Holy Spirit is at work and hopefully these ads can be put to good use.”
The final speaker, Michelle Buckman, shared the story of her unconventional calling in pro-life ministries. The mother of five wrote two Christian young adult books, one of which contains a powerful and hopeful pro-life message.
Buckman’s book, “My Beautiful Disaster,” follows a teenage girl facing an unplanned pregnancy. The author tells a realistic story of how a girl in that situation can face challenges.
“It shows there are ways to work it out,” Buckman said.
She explained that the book’s character works through real-life issues to find real-life solutions.
All of the speakers were available for questions after their talks and Buckman signed copies of her books.
In addition to the presentations, pro-life ministries hosted tables at the event. South Carolina Citizens for Life, Rachel’s Vineyard, the St. Francis Shop and the Family Life Office were among the organizations displaying information.

To view Virtue Media’s commercials, visit their Web site at www.virtuemedia.org. For information about the Office of Family Life or Respect Life call (803) 547-5063 or e-mail famlifecor@earthlink.net.