Danielle Hendricks

Editor’s note: This piece was written at the Catholic Herald’s invitation as a preview for the upcoming Gathering for Life to be hosted by the Diocese of Superior in lieu of participation in the March for Life in Washington, D.C. The event is at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 22, at St. Joseph Church, Rice Lake.

There are many challenges facing the pro-life movement, and the first one that often comes to mind for people is whether a fetus is alive or not in the womb. Whether or not we can win that particular debate matters less than the more necessary debate about whether life is worth living outside the womb.

I did one of those online 2022 word generators that give you a word to live by for the year. The word I was given was “awe.” What an appropriate word for this season in the church and this season in the pro-life world.

We witnessed Jesus come to us as an innocent baby, and it’s not the chorus of, “aww,” from a million grandmas pinching his cheek, it’s the “awe” at the ability of a human to flourish with so much fragility and opposition. We need to inspire people to have that kind of “awe” at life.

We feel this emotion when we see beautiful mountains or breathtaking oceans, but how often we look at humanity and see brokenness, war and despair. Why would someone who sees only darkness feel the hope that comes with new life?
We will gather as a Diocese on Jan. 22 to pray and unite in this mission for life.

Let us start by remembering the beautiful and hopeful parts of humanity that make it worth living. Let us inspire others to see the joy of life, that choosing life, even amidst the suffering and hardships, can be that moment of “awe” we all desperately search for.

This year’s diocesan gathering at St. Joseph’s in Rice Lake will take the place of the diocesan pilgrimage to D.C. to participate in the March for Life. Just because we are not traveling across the country to stand at the doors of the Capitol building this year, does not mean you can’t pilgrimage together to pray for the pro-life movement and the Catholic Church’s involvement.

The day will begin at 10 a.m. with Mass with Bishop James P. Powers and will include talks given by Dcn. Tim Mika and myself about the church being pro-life and our call to be pro-life in the communities where we live.

In our diocese, there is a handful of pregnancy help centers that continue to need supplies and support, either financially or with your time. Consider donating to your local center to support those clients who might see a darker world than you.

One of the things I have gained working in the pro-life field is an inside look at what a girl or family is feeling at the time of an unexpected pregnancy.

We can assume fear is at the top of the list, but likely there are many other emotions including doubt, despair, and anger, usually caused by some kind of trauma or neglect. As a whole, it is important for us to be gentle and kind to these families and recognize that even if they choose life, their problems will continue to exist and will likely expand. We want to create light and hope in this moment of shadow.

Being pro-life doesn’t just mean being pro-baby, it means being pro-family and pro-whole-life.

We want to support these families through pregnancy and well into parenting. The support needed to provide a life and an upbringing can sometimes seem overwhelming.

The biggest aid to the pro-life movement at this time is to open the doors of the church to provide community that is life-giving and long-lasting. These families need mentors and guides; they need community and love. The ones who grow in understanding of their intrinsic worth themselves are the ones who will bestow that level of dignity onto their children. If we are unable to show struggling families that it is worth the struggle and worth the hard choices, then how will they come to know the love of Jesus and the Gospel we preach?

On Jan. 22, as we meet to pray and talk about what it means to be pro-life and to show dignity to those around us, let’s remember that life is worth living and we are worthy of so much love.

Danielle Hendricks, CEO of Rice Lake’s Pregnancy Help Center, will be a featured speaker at the Diocese of Superior’s Gathering for Life on Jan. 22 at St. Joseph Church in Rice Lake. (Submitted photo)