Everyone can find a way to help the pro-life movement

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There is something that each and every member of our diocese can do for the pro-life ministry, according to Amy McInerny, respect life director in the diocesan Office for Marriage, Family and Respect Life. It doesn’t have to be the same thing but we all have to do something.

McInerny started in her role in January. Since then, she has been busy maintaining a connection between the chancery and every parish respect life coordinator.

“I also established a habit of sending them updates every week or 10 days to make sure we are getting the word out on calls to action,” she said.

McInerny, a parishioner of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Lake Ridge, served as the executive director of Human Life Action (2015-17). She was a research assistant for the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment (2014-15), founder and executive director of Women’s Injury Network (1998-2001) and assistant director, secretariat for pro-life activities, for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (1991-94). She earned a bachelor’s of science from Georgetown University in Washington (1983) and her law degree from The Catholic University of America School of Law in Washington (1991).

Goals for her office include making sure a respect life committee is in place at each parish to provide educational resources and keep leaders up to date with what is going on.

October is Respect Life Month and with that comes an emphasis on multiple life issues, including the medical aid in dying bill proposed in Virginia. “If people haven’t reached out to Richmond yet to make sure they understand medical aid in dying is unnecessary, dangerous and flawed legislation for Virginia, a quick click does the trick (vacatholic.org/action-center),” said McInerny. “Advocacy online makes a difference when we raise our voices.”

It is important to ensure people understand what the church teaches and why, said McInerny.

McInerny will help parishes participate in the 40 Days for Life this Sept. 26-Nov.4.

“Four abortion facilities in four years have closed from the prayer of people on the sidewalk,” said McInerny. “I’m hoping each parish will commit to a day or a time for people to go out and prayerfully witness.”

There are people who sidewalk counsel and that’s a different skillset, she said. “Just getting people out to pray is huge. What if everyone gave just one hour? Some people are called to do it every day but we can all do something, even pray from home.”

McInerny hosted a meeting with all diocesan respect life coordinators in late August.
“The meeting was an opportunity to reboot, come together and begin an unprecedented effort to respect life and build the culture of life in the Diocese of Arlington,” she said. McInerny said they considered what it looks like at the parish level and the importance of each of the pillars set forth by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops — prayer and worship, public education and information, direct service, and advocacy.

At the meeting, coordinators were given respect life packets that included program materials for use at a parish level. “There are articles on life issues for forming people so that we can understand why things are wrong,” she said.

McInerny worked with the Virginia Catholic Conference to research and help plan the response to the medical aid in dying report and bulletin inserts.

In addition to making connections with parish coordinators, she is trying to engage more youths. “We have this beautiful, young, pro-life generation and I want to make sure they understand how valued they are and how much we need them,” she said. “I’m trying to make connections with student leaders at our colleges and universities and support their pro-life efforts on campus.”

High school students have an important role to play, she said. The students can use the time as volunteer hours for school.

Her office promotes the first Saturday and third Saturday rosaries at two of abortion facilities, getting the word out to parish coordinators. “The clinics have seen a little uptick of (protest) participation and that’s very welcome,” she said.

McInerny said being a part of the team at the diocese is a blessing.

“I am daily inspired by the volunteers I am blessed to work with,” she said. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018

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