Jenny Snarski
Catholic Herald Staff

October is Respect Life month, and each year the Diocese of Superior’s Respect Life Office hosts a diocesanwide event that highlights aspects of its all-encompassing respect for life initiatives.

The 2022 Gathering for Life will take place on Saturday, Oct. 22, at St. Patrick in Hudson. This year’s theme is “adoption,” an action St. Pope John Paul II called “A great work of love … a true exchange of gifts,” a relationship through which much is given but also much received.

Beginning with a 10 a.m. Mass celebrated by Bishop James P. Powers, the day’s schedule includes two keynote addresses with lunch in between. The day will end with a Holy Hour and rosary at 2 p.m.

Speakers include the Diocese of Superior’s own Chris Hurtubise, father of four, whose first child was welcomed through adoption, as well as Melissa Bowe and Lydia Deering from the Wisconsin Adoption and Permanency Support Program, part of the Diocese of La Crosse’s Catholic Charities Adoption Agency.

Hurtubise will speak about the gift of adoption, and the Catholic Charities representatives will share about resources available during the adoption process in addition to foster care and critical local initiatives.

“With the Supreme Court’s recent decision which overturned Roe vs. Wade and the decision being turned back to the States, we need to turn our focus back to Catholic moral theology and the importance of the sanctity of life and human dignity,” Bonnie Thom, Respect Life Office director, stated, noting there were many topics that could’ve been chosen during this historic time.

“One of the reasons we chose adoption as our first topic following Roe vs. Wade was because people choose abortion because they do not feel they are able to raise a child at that time in their life. The pregnancy care centers throughout the Diocese of Superior do wonderful work in supporting a mother or family through a challenging pregnancy as do many family members and friends. However, if a person still believes they cannot raise a child, then there is the option of adoption. Adoption is a life-affirming option, as opposed to abortion. Many people may not know of this option or where to begin the process.”

Thom acknowledged there is much misinformation in the public sphere surrounding what care women do and do not have access to; for example, in the case of when care is needed for spontaneous miscarriage and treatment of ectopic pregnancies.

She added, “Many pro-life doctors agree that abortion is never medically necessary, nor is abortion health care. With the advances in medical technology, doctors can treat both mother and child with both safely living through the pregnancy.”

Thom said that harm caused by abortion goes beyond the child’s loss of life to include leaving the mother with physical and emotional scars.

Quoting Fr. Shenan J. Boquet from Human Life International in his July 18, 2022, article We Don’t Need Abortion to Save Mom’s Life, Thom shared, “In a healthy society, our medical system would instead incentivize doctors (health care workers) to pioneer and pursue creative solutions that lead to better outcomes for mother and child. Instead, we too often immediately reach for abortion, robbing many women of the opportunity to safely give birth, and instead burdening them with a lifetime of regret.”

In addition to the La Crosse Catholic Charities Adoption resources, a local initiative will be featured during the Gathering for Life.

Fr. Dennis Mullen’s adoption initiative has recently expanded with the statewide support of the Wisconsin State Council for the Knights of Columbus. More information is available at

The Gathering for Life is a free event is open to people of all ages.

Registration is not required. Lunch will not be provided, and participants are invited to bring their own lunch or plan on eating at a local restaurant.

Attendees are also encouraged to bring any of the following items for donation: new or gently used clothing sized 3T and smaller. Larger size (5 and 6) disposable diapers and any size pull-ups.

Sharing her final thoughts, Thom said, “May we always celebrate a new life and support the mother and family in their need, whether that be with basic living needs (food, shelter, clothing), emotionally, and/or spiritually.”

She concluded with a quote from Evangelium Vitae: “After all, life on earth is not an ‘ultimate’ but a ‘penultimate’ (next to last) reality; even so it remains a sacred reality entrusted to us, to be preserved with a sense of responsibility and brought to perfection in love and in the gift of ourselves to God and to our brothers and sisters.”