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Annual Seminar Draws Parish Pro-Life Coordinators

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The sanctity of human life was the focus for the 2010 Diocese of Raleigh Respect Life Seminar on Saturday, August 21, at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Raleigh.

The day began with refreshments and a presentation by Family Honor, a program that creates opportunities for parents and children to connect on important life issues, with a special emphasis on chastity and God’s gift of sexuality. The program, developed in South Carolina, is now conducted regularly in the Diocese of Raleigh by certified facilitators and involves parents along with their sixth- and eighth-grade children. Family Honor emphasizes development of the whole person, not just biology and functions, explaining the spiritual, physical, intellectual, creative and emotional dimensions of total sexual persons. 

The presentation was followed by Mass, celebrated by the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Raleigh. During the Mass Bishop Burbidge announced the appointment of Mrs. Jacqueline Bonk as Director of the newly created Pro-Life Office of the Diocese of Raleigh. Mrs. Bonk is charged with developing, designing and facilitating the implementation of pastoral pro-life activities, as well as the education and invitation of the faithful to participate in protecting the sanctity of all human life.

Addressing the Parish Respect Life Leaders, Bishop Burbidge commended them for their “perseverance, courage and dedicated service. With compassion and conviction,” the Bishop said, “we must never grow tired of helping others to understand the Gospel of Life and the teachings of the Church.”

Expressing his gratitude to Sister Joan Jurski, O.S.F., for her service to the Diocese as Director of the Office of Respect Life/Peace and Justice, the Bishop said that the creation of the new Diocesan Pro-Life Office will allow Sister Joan to increase her efforts in the areas of Peace and Justice and Parish Social Ministry, with particular emphasis upon issues such as immigration, hunger, peacemaking, poverty, and homelessness.  Likewise, he said, Mrs. Bonk will have the ability to expand the focus of the important pro-life education and formation work already accomplished on issues such as abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research and the death penalty.

“The effect of this new structure,” the Bishop said, “will thus strengthen the work both of the Pro-Life Office and the Office of Peace and Justice.”

Lunch followed the Mass. In the afternoon, those in attendance heard a presentation on the Plan for Diocesan Pro-Life Activities. The Diocesan Plan supports and implements – at the Deanery and Parish levels – the Campaign in Support of Life by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). This campaign promotes Education to deepen understanding of the sanctity of human life; Pastoral Care for people experiencing crises involving pregnancy, illness, care giving and violent crime, as well as prisoners sentenced to death; Prayer and Worship directed at strengthening the culture of life; and Public Policy efforts involving pro-life issues.

Above: Bishop Michael F. Burbidge with Sister Joan Jurski, O.S.F., Director of the Diocesan Office of Peace and Justice and Parish Social Ministry and Mrs. Jacqueline Bonk, new Director of the Diocesan Pro-Life Office.