Carol Spielman
Special to the Catholic Herald

Fr. Nick Nelson was the master of ceremonies for more than 200 guests at the seventh annual Together for Life banquet April 29 at Greysolon Plaza. The evening’s theme was capsulized by the quote of an attendee, “this evening is a slice of heaven.”

Sixteen local culture of life organizations from the Duluth and Superior communities shared information in support of life, families and healthy lifestyles in our community. Keynote speaker Rusty Joiner, star of the movie “Voiceless,” shared his touching, personal journey to become a husband, father and active leader in the pro-life community.

Fr. Thomas Galarneault presented the sixth annual Fr. James Crossman Culture of Life Award to Kathy Blascyk, recently retired director of Northland Family Programs, who was instrumental in raising funds and winning grants to lead her organization in its focus to assist couples with fertility and infertility in a healthy, loving manner. The third annual Organizational Culture of Life Award was presented to the Lake Superior Lifecare Center for its 42 years of work in extending the love, compassion and hope of Christ to women and families who find themselves in an unplanned pregnancy. The center’s director, Kathy LaPorte, accepted the award and shared that since its founding in 1982, the Lake Superior Life Care Center staff have worked together with women to empower them to make informed, life-affirming decisions concerning all aspects of pregnancy and parenthood. As their mission says, “God is changing hearts and saving lives — one at a time.” She highlighted the efforts of the Superior office and thanked the dioceses of Duluth and Superior.

Fr. Ryan Moravitz spoke of his efforts to reach out and assist one of his pregnant, near homeless, unmarried parishioners to choose life for her unborn baby. He teared up as he recalled how she walked past him into the abortion clinic, and he believes he could have convinced her to choose life for her baby if services such as those planned for the Star of the North Maternity Home were available. Together for Life Northland’s vision for opening the Star of the North Maternity Home is to provide a loving, stable, Christian, family-oriented housing environment for homeless, pregnant mothers and their babies in the Duluth community, and to provide pregnant mothers living at Star of the North with educational resources to transition them toward a healthy, self-supportive lifestyle for both themselves and their families. Rather than “recreating the wheel,” the Star of the North Maternity Home will be modeled after the highly effective Philomena House, already in existence in St. Paul, Minnesota, to serve the Minneapolis/St. Paul area as described at the event by its director, Joyce Nevins. Founded in 2011, the mission of the Philomena House is to serve as a temporary home, staffed by volunteers, for pregnant women in need. Joyce shared touching, lifesaving and life-affirming stories from volunteers who work at the Philomena House.

Fr. Ryan Moravitz then strongly encouraged generous financial pledges and contributions for the Star of the North Maternity Home, resulting in more than $61,000 being donated. In comedic Hollywood style, actor Rusty Joiner auctioned the remaining wine and coffee that had been donated to this event to raise an additional $1,850. The event closed with a prayer and blessing from Fr. Tom Gallerneault.

If you would like to learn more about how you can support the Star of the North Maternity Home, go to or call the office, 218-461-0564.