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The Radiance Foundation's Ryan Bomberger to Present Keynote Address at 2018 Respect Life Convention

The Respect Life Apostolate of the Archdiocese of St. Louis is pleased to announce that Ryan Bomberger of the Radiance Foundation is the keynote speaker for the 42nd Annual Respect Life Convention: Life Has Purpose.

Each October during Respect Life Month, the RLA hosts the annual Respect Life Convention. This free educational event is being held on Sunday, October 28 at the St. Charles Convention Center. The convention provides a forum for Catholics in the archdiocese to gather together and learn from informative and inspiring speakers on the sanctity of human life and the latest efforts to build a Culture of Life.

Ryan is an Emmy Award-winning creative professional who co-founded, along with his wife Bethany, TheRadianceFoundation.org. He is also an international speaker, columnist, factivist, and author of the bold book, Not Equal: Civil Rights Gone Wrong. He loves creatively illuminating how every human life has purpose.

"The Bomberger Family: the Power of One Decision" recently aired on EWTN's Pro-Life Weekly show. Click here to watch the video segment and learn more about his family's inspiring multi-generational adoption story and their empowering pro-life legacy.

Pre-registration and a $45 fee is required for the keynote luncheon portion only. Sign-up online starting Wednesday, August 15 through Friday, October 12.

Visit www.STLRespectLife.org under the "Respect Life Convention 2018" tab for details.

 

RLA Interns Spending the Summer Building Up Culture of Life St. Louis

The RLA is excited to introduce our 2018 interns to the St. Louis Respect Life and Catholic community! Riley Bess, an incoming senior at Truman State University in Kirksville, and Maria Kramer, an incoming sophomore at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, were selected for our 2018 eight-week summer internship program.

Riley (pictured left), a communications major, helps coordinate her school's Students for Life chapter by maintaining their website, helping with baby supply drives for new moms, and attending leadership conferences. She is also very active with her campus Catholic Newman Center. Riley was encouraged to apply by her friend Emily Davenport, a past RLA intern.

Maria (pictured right), a 2017 graduate of St. Joseph's Academy here in St. Louis, also has a heart for service. In high school, she was a retreat leader and volunteered with special needs children. In college, she leads a women's faith group and volunteers with the Bishop Sullivan Center helping low-income students.

As part of their internship, Riley and Maria are:

  • Accompanying the staff to the national Pro-Life Women's Conference for a comprehensive pro-life education and networking experience
  • Helping Mary, our program manager, with several summer and fall events including the Respect Life Convention, Project Rachel retreat, Biking for Babies, and Helpers Mass & Rosary
  • Learning and practicing website, social media marketing, document design, and administrative skills
  • Discovering the rich history of the St. Louis pro-life movement and hearing presentations by local pro-life leaders

Each year, the Respect Life Apostolate invites high school seniors and college students to apply. The internship provides hands-on experience in a professional pro-life office, as well as an opportunity to network with other pro-life leaders, organizations, and ministry partners.

For more information or to apply for the 2019 internship program, click here or email prolife@archstl.org

2018 Project Rachel Retreat Offers Hope, Healing for Women Suffering from Abortion, Aug. 17-19

Each year, the St. Louis Project Rachel Team sponsors a weekend retreat for women negatively impacted by an abortion experience. The retreat, open to women of any faith background (or none), seeks to start them on a journey of healing and hope, no matter how long it has been.

The 2018 weekend will be held Aug. 17-19 in a comfortable, private setting where retreatants can be assured of pastoral care, confidentiality, and a very welcoming and supportive environment. The silent retreat -- focusing on healing the mind, body, and soul -- offers one-on-one spiritual direction, and also Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation if desired.


Registration Information

The cost of the retreat is $200, with a $50 deposit asked for at the time of registration. Financial assistance is available and no one will be turned away due to an inability to pay.

About Project Rachel

Project Rachel, a program of the Respect Life Apostolate of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, ministers to women who have suffered the trauma of an abortion experience through free, professional, and confidential counseling, spiritual support groups, spiritual direction, reconciliation, and retreats.

For additional information on Project Rachel post-abortive healing ministry, click here

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. 

Life Will Be Victorious! United Pro-Life, Faith Effort Helps Defeat St. Louis Board Bill 34

St. Louis City's "Buffer Zone" Bill failed on April 16 in a 9-15 vote. This defeat was helped by the united effort of the pro-life movement, Archdiocese of St. Louis, and other churches, organizations, and people of good will.

Ever since Board Bill 34CS was re-introduced by the city's aldermanic council in February, this united opposition made it a priority to educate the public on the bill's problematic nature. Multiple phone, letter, and email campaigns were also made to city officials.

A buffer zone around health clinics (which according to the ordinance also included Planned Parenthood), would certainly have impacted the peaceful and prayerful efforts of the respect life movement, especially life-saving sidewalk counseling. However, it also would have hindered more universal rights of free speech and peaceful assembly.

As RLA Executive Director Karen Nolkemper explained, "We are grateful to the Board of Alderman for defeating Board Bill 34CS, and choosing not to restrict the constitutionally-protected rights of assembly and free speech on public property. Our work of prayer and presence will continue because we know that women facing difficult or unplanned pregnancies need real options and support, not abortion."

For a comprehensive look at the bill's progression and defeat, access the St Louis Review's four articles online here.

Coverage of the bill's defeat was also picked up by other St. Louis media outlets and even a national pro-life news source

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.