With great joy, I can say that this year’s pro-life banquet and conference was a success. One for the books, as the saying goes!
This year’s event brought together nearly 500 pro-lifers from all across the state of Nebraska. The crowd continues to grow year after year, new faces are added to the count, and fun is had by all.
And while much can be said about the weekend, I want to distill my experience into two points.
Inspired for Holiness. I had the honor and privilege of doing most of the “chauffeur” work for the two Sisters of Life who came to the banquet and conference. Our keynote speaker, Sister Mary Grace, was accompanied by Sister Elizabeth Ann—and they were a blast.
I can still recall seeing my first Sister of Life over 10 years ago. I was a law school student participating in a legal fellowship program with Alliance Defending Freedom. Part of my fellowship included an internship placement outside of New York City. On the weekends, I would spend most of my time in New York City to see the sites (and eat the food!).
Like any good tourist, I took a stroll through Central Park. Almost immediately after arriving at Central Park, I could see some 30 yards ahead of me that signature navy blue and white habit of the Sisters of Life.
I was immediately starstruck, as if I was in front of my favorite actress.
I was aware of the Sisters’ tremendous apostolic work of caring for women in difficult pregnancies. And even in the little I knew about their religious order, I was impacted by the sheer joy and holiness of the Sisters.
My time with Sister Mary Grace and Sister Elizabeth Ann further assured me of the great work the Sisters do and how they do it with such love, joy, and holiness.
Sister Mary Grace’s keynote had several major themes. But the one which struck me most was holiness and conversion of life as being core to our pro-life work.
Sister shared numerous stories of people who have encountered the Sisters of Life. These people were in difficult and dire circumstances. Some were intentionally seeking out the Sisters, while others just happened to “run into” the Sisters.
In so many of the stories Sister Mary Grace shared, the Sisters of Life not only met the material needs that were requested, but also the Sisters never hesitated to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those they encountered.
In sharing the Gospel, the Sisters make known to each person they meet how beautiful and wonderful they are. They make know to each person that God loves them, not because of the things they do or do not do, but—as Sister Mary Grace put it—because “you are you!”
This fact of God’s love for each of us helps us to see how radically He desires to be in relationship with each of us and how He desires to call each one of us back to Him through a deeply personal relationship.
At its core, the pro-life movement should aim toward drawing each person we encounter in a living and personal relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church.
Being with the Sisters made me want to be holy and invite others to holiness.
Strengthened for the Road Ahead. The conference on Saturday was also edifying. Each and every speaker who participated provided insights into our theme of effectively communicating the pro-life message in a digital and post-Christian era. We heard about everything from the latest and most effective pro-life messaging to how we can advance a pro-mom, pro-family public policy agenda to help drive down and end abortion to how central the theme of suffering is within the pro-life cause.
Ultimately, all the material presented on Saturday strengthened my intellectual know-how and volitional resolve for the road ahead.
Being pro-life in our technologically centered, post-Christian era is not easy. The challenges are countless. But this weekend’s banquet and conference was a reminder that these challenges are not irresolvable or insurmountable. With a little know-how and some good tools, the work of being an effective missionary of the Gospel of Life is well within our grasp—and God is more than ready to provide the grace for the work ahead.
I pray that next year you will join us for Bishops’ Pro-Life Banquet and Conference—in fact, mark it down in your calendar: Oct. 6-7, 2023!