Browsing News Entries

Two National Pro-Life Events Coming to St. Louis/Kansas City in June!

We're so blessed to have both the Pro-Life Women's Conference and the National Right to Life Convention so close to St. Louis this year. These annual premier pro-life events are ideal for those passionate about building up a Culture of Life!

Pro-Life Women's Conference, June 22-24

"Pro-Life is Pro-Love" is the theme of the third annual women's event, June 22-24 at the St. Charles Convention Center. Abby Johnson's And Then There Were None ministry and the Alice Paul Group are sponsors. Speakers include Abby Johnson, Sr. Veronica Mary (Sisters of Life), Bethany Bomberger (The Radiance Foundation), Serrin Foster (Feminists for Life), and many more!

Click here to register online, a detailed schedule, pricing, lodging and additional information. Or, send an email to info@prolifewomen.com. 

National Right to Life Convention, June 28-30

"Love Them All" is the theme of this annual national pro-life gathering, June 28-30 at the Sheraton Hotel in Overland Park, KS. Network with pro-life individuals and organizations from across the U.S. and learn the latest pro-life strategies, issues, and news from national leaders.

You'll also be inspired by life-changing speakers including Archbishop Joseph Naumann (incoming USCCB Pro-Life Committee Chair), Melissa Ohden (Abortion Survivors Network/Vitae Foundation), Dr. George Delgado (Culture of Life Services), and Wesley Smith, JD (Discovery Institute/Patient Rights Council).

Click here for registration and other details. 

Archdiocese Shows Strong Support for Catholic Education, Respect Life During 2018 Creative Writing Contest

1,058 Catholic Eighth Graders Write About Chastity, Respect Life, 146 Finalists Honored at April 18 Assembly

With approximately 500 people in attendance, the April 18 awards assembly culminated nearly five months of work that went into the 2018 Respect Life Creative Writing Contest. This partnership between the Catholic Education Office, Respect Life Apostolate, and schools and parishes throughout the archdiocese, helped 1,058 eighth graders reflect on the virtue of chastity and respecting each person's fundamental right to life.

These entries represented 61 schools, Parish School of Religion programs, and Catholic home schools. Of these students, 146 were rated as finalists by our judges and invited to the award assembly at the Cardinal Rigali Center.

At the assembly, Archbishop Robert Carlson, Fr. Brian Fallon, Bob Cochran (nephew of Bishop Edward O'Donnell), Zip Rzeppa, Missouri Knights of Columbus leaders and RLA Executive Director Karen Nolkemper helped present the awards and inspire the students. The presence of parents, teachers, principals, priests, and religious further inspired and supported the achievement of these eighth graders.

Each finalist received a certificate of achievement, respect life T-shirt, a teen book on chastity, and the opportunity to be individually recognized, presented, and photographed with Archbishop Carlson.

In addition, 14 of these 146 finalists were selected for either a scholarship or an honorable mention. This year, six one-time, partial scholarships and eight honorable mention prizes were awarded to help 14 students more easily pursue Catholic high school education in 2018-2019.

The recipients of the six $2,000 scholarships are:

  • Bishop Edward J. O'Donnell Scholarship: Emmeline Roseberry (St. Margaret of Scotland Grade School and Parish) will be attending Nerinx Hall
  • Mary Forrestal Hennessey Scholarship: Meghan Meehan (home school, St. Dominic Savio Parish) will be attending Bishop DuBourg High School
  • Mr. & Mrs George Kletzker Scholarships: Leah Anderson (St. Joseph of Imperial Grade School and Parish) will be attending Ursuline Academy, and Olivia Knobbe (St. Joseph-Josephville Grade School and Parish) will be attending St. Dominic High School
  • Knights of Columbus Missouri State Council Scholarship: John Paul Vlahutin (Annunziata Grade School and Holy Trinity Parish) will be attending Chaminade College Preparatory School
  • St. Joseph Evangelization Network Scholarship: Carlotta Croak (Holy Infant Grade School and Parish) will be attending Villa Duchesne 

The recipients of the eight honorable mention awards are:

  • Alexander Rodriguez (Holy Trinity Grade School, Our Lady of the Presentation Parish), will be attending DeSmet Jesuit High School
  • Amy Lien Stukenholtz (Sacred Heart-Valley Park Grade School and Parish), will be attending Cor Jesu Academy
  • Eric Piening (St. Monica Grade School and Parish), will be attending St. Louis University High School
  • Matilda Killeen (St. Margaret of Scotland Grade School and Parish), will be attending Visitation Academy
  • Gabriel Chase Lancia (Holy Cross Academy, Our Lady of Providence Parish), will be attending St. Pius X High School
  • Hannah Lifka (St. Peter Grade School, St. Joseph-Imperial Parish), will be attending Lindbergh High School
  • Hannah King (St. John Paul II Preparatory School, Queen of All Saints Parish) will be continuing her high school education at St. John Paul II
  • Hope Dery (homeschool, St. Joseph-Cottleville Parish), will be attending St. John Paul II Preparatory School 

Click here to read the St. Louis Review article.

Click here to read the winning scholarship entries

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.)