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A ‘shot in the arm’ for the pro-life movement

It was 30 years ago this coming December that the Nebraska Catholic Conference hired the likes of an energetic, intelligent, and handsome young man to run the Bishops’ Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities. Without saying much more, most of my readers can already guess who I’m talking about.

That young man was Greg Schleppenbach.

When Greg was hired by Jim Cunningham (the NCC Executive Director at the time, and for many years before and after that), Jim told Archbishop Sheehan (Omaha), Bishop Flavin (Lincoln), and Bishop McNamara (Grand Island) that Greg and his newly formed position as the Statewide Director of the Bishops’ Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities would be a “shot in the arm throughout the state” for the pro-life movement.

Anybody even vaguely familiar with Greg’s steadfast dedication to the Gospel of Life in Nebraska throughout the years knows we got more than we bargained for—well beyond a “shot in the arm.”

Greg built on the firm foundations that the bishops and Jim laid out for the pro-life movement. What they all left behind was a legacy, one that we, today, at the NCC humbly strive to continue.

As Nebraska’s Bishops did three decades ago, so Nebraska’s Bishops have done again today. They have looked with the eyes of Christ at our circumstances, prophetically reading the signs of the times, and have recognized the importance of furthering the pro-life work that occurs through the Nebraska Catholic Conference.

Like 30 years ago, the pro-life movement will receive a “shot in the arm” in the form of an additional person to help carry out the Bishops’ Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities.

To provide some context, the Pastoral Plan has four key pillars: public education, pastoral care, prayer and worship, and public policy. These four key effort areas together call for a “general mobilization of consciences and a united ethical front to activate a great campaign in support of life.”

Over the years, Greg, Jeff Kanger, Marion Miner and I have been tasked as the Statewide Director of the Pastoral Plan to oversee these four pillars of activity for the whole state of Nebraska.

Over the last five to 10 years, the Statewide Director for Pro-Life Activities has been increasingly engaged in public policy matters, not only on pro-life matters but also those related more broadly to marriage and family. This focus on policy has resulted in major legislative victories, such as the recent signing into law of the dismemberment abortion ban. At the same time, due to the natural limitation of resources, it has overshadowed the other three pillars of the pastoral plan.

While battling the Culture of Death and promoting a Culture of Life through policy is critical, advancing the Gospel of Life must be a broader cultural activity that goes beyond the legislative chambers, court rooms, and basements of bureaucratic buildings. Changing minds and hearts on the fundamental issue of human dignity requires concerted efforts within the parish, in the home, on the streets, in our classrooms, through our pregnancy support centers, on our knees, among many other places.

Because of this great need, it is with deep gratitude to the Bishops and their vision that I implore you for assistance as we look for the next Statewide Coordinator of Pro-Life Activities for the Nebraska Catholic Conference. This position will focus on tackling the public education, pastoral care, and prayer and worships efforts in the Pastoral Plan, as well as assisting Marion lead the charge on public policy matters. This investment into an additional paid, full-time person will begin to do justice to the non-policy, pro-life activities that demand attention throughout the year.

For more information about this position, please visit www.necatholic.org. I will be accepting cover letters and resumes until Sept. 25. As you pass this along to family, friends, parishioners, who may have an interest in working in the Lord’s vineyard on pro-life activities, please also pray to the Holy Spirit that the NCC will be given holy discernment as we identify our next pro-life partner!

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