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RLA Blessed By Presence of 2018 Diaconate Class at February's Helpers Mass

Each diaconate class in the Archdiocese of St. Louis has a respect life component to their curriculum and formation. This year, the RLA and Office of the Diaconate also invited the candidates and their wives to attend a Helpers of God's Most Precious Infants prayer event at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.

They cheerfully participated in the Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, and outside rosary walk (despite a surprise snow shower) along with the RLA volunteers, board, and staff. A pro-life training session and reception followed in Boland Hall.

Both the RLA and the deacon candidates were blessed by the partnerships formed at the February 17 event. Strengthening the communication and connection between the archdiocese and parish deacons can only benefit future endeavors to build up a Culture of Life throughout the greater St. Louis area.

Please join us in praying for the candidates who will be ordained at the Cathedral on June 2. To learn more about the diaconate program, call 314-792-7430 or click here.

Photo advertisement courtesy fo the Office of the Diaconate as published in the St. Louis Review

RLA Executive Director to St. Louis Review Regarding Board Bill 34: "Our Work of Prayer and Presence Will Continue"

Karen Nolkemper, executive director of the Respect Life Apostolate, made her objections to the City of St. Louis' Board Bill 34 clear in a recent St. Louis Review article. Her views are shared by other local and state pro-life and faith leaders.

As stated in the Feb. 14 article by Jennifer Brinker (bold text and links added):

"A proposed City of St. Louis ordinance that would create a buffer zone around "health care facilities" was recently passed by an aldermanic committee. That ordinance would include Planned Parenthood, according to testimony in the committee meeting...

Opponents of the proposed ordinance in St. Louis say that it infringes upon their First Amendment right to free speech and raises specific questions about what activity is or is not allowed...

Archdiocesan Respect Life Apostolate's executive director Karen Nolkemper noted that the proposed ordinance would not affect the Helpers of God's Precious Infants Rosary Procession to Planned Parenthood.

"Any laws which infringe upon the constitutionally protected rights of assembly and free speech on public property are always suspect," Nolkemper said. "Nonetheless, we do not believe the potential buffer zone will deter our monthly Helpers of God's Precious Infants Mass, 40 Days for Life or other peaceful, prayerful witness to the sanctity of human life on the sidewalk outside the Planned Parenthood facility. Our work of prayer and presence will continue, whether or not this bill becomes law."

Photo of the 2018 Annual Memorial Mass above is the property of the RLA. Please contact us for permission before sharing in any communication medium. Thank you.

"God Led Me Here" Says RLA Volunteer Turned Staff Member Kelly Brown

Anyone who asks our newest bookkeeper/data coordinator Kelly Brown why she decided to work for the RLA will receive this joyful answer. She felt God calling her to apply after learning of the part-time position through her volunteer work as a Respect Life parish coordinator.

"When St. Martin of Tours needed a volunteer pro-life coordinator just last year, I was thrilled that it was open and that I could fill the role. I feel the same way about working professionally for the Respect Life Apostolate, too," Kelly said.

"As a woman and mother, I'm passionate about life, family, and children," she explained. "Serving in a ministry that focuses on life is such a great honor. Life isn't as valued in our society as it should be. I want to help our culture realize that children are precious gifts from God and that we should put them first. What better work is there to do than to protect the lives and future of children?"

Kelly, a St. Louis native, is a convert to Catholicism as is her husband Will who works for the Federal Reserve. They're the proud parents of Charlotte and dedicated to the pro-life cause and their Catholic faith. "It's Will's dream to enter the diaconate one day," Kelly said. "Since the RLA office is right down the hall from the deacon formation director's, I decided to give him a heads up!"

Kelly replaced Marlene Kren, who retired after seven years of service to devote more time to her family: husband Dave and their children and grandchildren. Marlene temporarily left retirement to help Kelly learn the various financial, bookkeeping, donation, and data entry tasks of the RLA.

"We're so blessed by our present and past staff who help our ministry make a seamless transition when these changes occur," said Karen Nolkemper, executive director. "We're so grateful for Marlene's assistance as well as Maureen Kane's. Maureen, who retired last summer, has been an invaluable help to her replacement, Mary Varni, our newest program manager."

Annual Memorial Mass Honors Unborn, Helps Women, Families Facing Crisis Pregnancies

Over 700 Catholics and members of the Respect Life Movement gathered at the Cathedral Basilica on Saturday, Jan. 27 for the RLA's Annual Memorial Mass and prayer vigil. Together, they solemnly remembered the near 60 million unborn lives lost to legalized abortion since 1973, and the countless women, men, and families whose lives have been tragically impacted.

St. Louis Auxiliary Bishop Mark Rivituso celebrated the Mass and challenged and inspired all in attendance to "pray always so that we may indeed be a powerful witness to the Gospel of Life in all of our activities and events for pro-life." The Bishop also personally received donations from parishes throughout the Archdiocese to the LifeLine Coalition, a group of social service and pro-life agencies that help 10,000-plus women and families facing crisis pregnancies each year.

A Rose Procession was held right before Mass in which one person born each year since 1973 carried up a single rose to represent the lives lost during his or her birth year. The last person in the procession was an expectant mother whose unborn child represented 2018.

Directly following Mass, nearly 500 people also took part in a peaceful rosary walk to and from Planned Parenthood. Bishop Rivituso led the pro-life witnesses of all ages in prayer which included seminarians, priests, religious, young adults, families with young children, singles, and seniors from many different backgrounds. This group included the 150 members of the Crusaders for Life from Chicago who attend the event each year as part of their Midwest respect life pilgrimage.


The Annual Memorial Mass has been held each January since 2000 near the Roe v. Wade anniversary. The event is part of the RLA's Helpers of God's Precious Infants program, in which volunteers gather each month to pray for all those impacted by abortion and give public witness to the sanctity of human life. Learn more here.

RLA Accounts Coordinator Marlene Kren Honored for Seven Years of Service

The Respect Life Apostolate extends best wishes and congratulations to Marlene Kren upon her retirement as our part-time accounts coordinator.

Marlene faithfully helped us with all of our financial, donation and bookkeeping needs, overseeing convention registration and ad sales, and staffing various pro-life events around the archdiocese.


Marlene (third from left) who was also our behind-the-scenes prayer warrior as a daily Mass goer and office decorator extraordinaire. She joined the staff in 2011, serving the needs of the St. Louis Respect Life Movement for seven years. Executive Director Karen Nolkemper and the RLA staff will greatly miss Marlene's prayerful presence, amazing organizational ability, and gentle sense of humor.

She'll continue her pro-life mission as an RLA volunteer and devoting her time to her grandbabies, children, and husband Dave.

RLA Executive Director on STLToday.com: "Catholics are Bound to Accept Church Teaching on Abortion"

By Karen Nolkemper

Many Catholic politicians and commentators used the March for Life on Jan. 19 and the recent failure of the U.S. Senate to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to publicly contradict the very tenets of their own faith on the sanctity of human life. It must be noted that the Catholic Church is opposed to abortion as "gravely contrary to the moral law." Catholics are bound to accept this teaching and cannot compromise for the sake of pragmatism.

St. Mother Teresa once said abortion is the "greatest destroyer of love and peace." Pope Francis has bluntly called abortion the "murder of an innocent person."

Women in difficult situations facing an unplanned pregnancy need not resort to violence against their child. Numerous organizations, including the Catholic Church, stand ready to assist women materially and spiritually. We offer hope, healing, and forgiveness to anyone wounded by an abortion experience.

Regardless of the political climate, we find hope in Pope John Paul II's prophetic words: "In God's plan, life will be victorious."

See her original Letter to the Editor here.

These St. Louis Women Describe Why They Are a Part of the March for Life

Three Different Perspectives Weave a Rich Pro-Life Witness

Anna Jones

After attending the Generation Life pilgrimage for the first time as a freshman, Anna Jones marched back to St. Louis, determined to start a pro-life club at Kirkwood High School.

At the end of their pilgrimage, Generation Life teens were invited to make a personal commitment to life issues -- thus how Pioneers for Life was born.

Finish reading Anna's story here.

Pam Coughlin

When Pam Coughlin called to reserve a spot for the Missouri Life Caravan, she didn't know a single person on the trip to Washington, D.C. But as it turns out, Coughlin was well-known by members of Missouri Right to Life, which organizes the annual bus trip.

Missouri Right to Life had come to Coughlin's defense, when in the mid-1990s she was fired from her teaching job as an associate professor at Washington University in St. Louis. With a doctorate in social work and master's in nursing, Coughlin taught a class called "Child Development Through the Life Cycle." During that class, she showed students "The Silent Scream," a 1984 documentary that used ultrasound images to show the horrors of abortion in graphic detail.

"I gave them the opportunity to stay or leave," recalls the now 82-year-old member of St. Justin Martyr Parish in Sunset Hills. "Four of the girls left the room, went to the administration and tried to get it stopped."

Read the rest of Pam's story here.

Alexis Carrasquillo & Zita Myers-Carrasquillo

Alexis Carrasquillo believes that "everyone deserves a life." That's why she was inspired to attend the March for Life with Rosati-Kain High School.

It was the first march for Alexa and her mother, Zita Myers-Carrasquillo, who came along as a chaperone. Alexis called the experience "awesome," although she said "there were some things I didn't want to see," referring to some of the graphic images of aborted babies along the march route.

For Alexis and her mother, taking a stand for life of the unborn has been the newest link in their efforts to support life at all stages.

Read the rest of their story here.

(All three stories were written by St. Louis Review's Jennifer Brinker; photo collage by Lisa Johnston)

Local Archdiocesan Marches Show Strong Pro-Life Witness

Catholic St. Louis Bore Witness to Life Both in Washington D.C. and Locally

For about a half-hour on either side of noon on Jan. 20, students and parishioners from St. Alban Roe Parish and School bore powerful witness to the pro-life movement.

About 200 people -- 30 students in the middle-school youth ministry joined by roughly 170 parishioners of all ages, from babies to seniors --marched on the bike path along Highways 109 and 100, chanting, singing, and carrying signs.  

The lead sign, carried by three students, asked drivers to "Honk for Life," and honking horns accompanies the group throughout the two-mile hike from the parish church to Wildwood City Hall. There Mayor Jim Bowlin greeted them.

"Thank you for voicing your support for this very important cause," he said in brief remarks to the group. "It really is great that we live in a country where we can do that... Thank you for what you do."

After music and song by the school's Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George, along with a little dancing by the students, the event closed with prayer, just as it had begun an hour previous.

Continue reading the St. Louis Review article here (by Dave Luecking and photo by Jerry Naunheim, Jr.)

Generation Life Pilgrims Lead the Charge in Proclaiming that "Love Saves Lives" at Annual March for Life

Archdiocesan Teen Pilgrimage Brings 2,200 to Washington D.C. on January 19

Kurt Hufker huddled with his friends on the National Mall as they eagerly awaited for the March for Life to begin.

This was the first march for Kurt, who was with his youth group from Assumption Parish in Mattese. Researching life issues on his own, Kurt knew that abortion was wrong, and he wanted to come to stand up for life.

"Life is the most important thing we have," said the junior at St. Mary's High School. "If you can't protect life, what is there to protect?"

Kurt was one of more than 2,200 teens attending the Jan. 19 march as part of the Generation Life pilgrimage, hosted by the archdiocesan Office of Youth Ministry. The annual pilgrimage feeds into the March for Life every January. Including the Missouri Life Caravan and other parish and school groups, there were an estimated 3,000 people from St. Louis attending the march.

Finish reading the St. Louis Review article here. (by Jennifer Brinker; photo by Lisa Johnston)

EDITORIAL: Our Commitment to a Culture of Life is Rooted in Love

Love Saves Lives.

That's the theme of this year's March for Life, which commemorates the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision to legalize abortion. Forty-five years later, more than 59 million babies have been killed through abortion, according to the statistics from National Right to Life.

But the commitment to stopping this travesty isn't just about attending the March for Life in Washington, D.C., every year. It's a commitment -- rooted in love -- that requires our efforts every day of the year.

The pro-life community understands that choosing life isn't always easy. Facing poverty, abusive relationships, and lack of education or employment are among the reasons women seek abortion.

We're called to love and support both the unborn child and the mother. We must remain committed to building a culture of life from the womb through all stages of life. It isn't only the loving thing to do, but also empowering when a woman chooses life for her child.

Finish reading the St. Louis Review editorial here.