Three Dutchess Parishes Benefit From United Respect Life Work


Three neighboring Dutchess County parishes are proving it’s beneficial to join together for a cause.

St. Columba and St. Denis, both in Hopewell Junction, and St. Kateri Tekakwitha in LaGrangeville, combined their Respect Life committees three years ago. (The parishes even use a Tri-Parish label to highlight their cooperation on various programs and activities.)

“It’s been great,” said Eileen Phillips, coordinator for Respect Life at St. Columba’s. “We all have different gifts to offer as far as talents, and we have a great group of people working with us. Our group is run by prayer and God’s guidance. We get guidance from God with what to do.”

The group, which has a Respect Life coordinator at each parish, meets once a month at St. Columba to pray the rosary in the adoration chapel before meeting in the school library. Because October is Respect Life Month, the group has been busy with events scheduled to promote their cause.

The three parishes will welcome speaker Damon Owens to discuss Teen Chastity and Traditional Marriage with teens and their parents at St. Columba at noon on Saturday, Oct. 15, and St. Columba is hosting a Life Chain on Oct. 22. Both events are open to the public, and Owens’ seminar, expected to draw 400 people, is free.

Owens, a national speaker from the Theology of the Body Institute, has been speaking on these topics for almost 25 years and has appeared on ABC World News Tonight, CBS News’ 48 Hours and National Public Radio. An accomplished singer, Owens also sang a solo at Pope John Paul II’s Mass at Giants Stadium in 1995.

“I’ve seen him twice,” said Ed Haege, coordinator for Respect Life at St. Denis. “He’s such an inspiring figure, and we felt we had to bring him into our parishes to speak to our teens and their parents.”

The three parishes also began planning future events such as the National Night of Prayer at St. Kateri in December and a bus trip to the national March for Life in January.

“We have great people and we all understand Catholic churches should be working together,” said Andrew Humphreys, coordinator of Right for Life at St. Kateri. “We are a community. It’s great to get together when we have a larger impact as a group for our area and beyond.”

Also in January, the group will begin visiting religious education classes of seventh- and eighth-graders at the three parishes.

“We tell them about our ministry,” Ms. Phillips said. “We impress upon them God gives us this gift of life and go from there. We’ll tell them about our different activities. The main thing is we’ll let them know abortion is wrong and it takes away a life God has given us.”

October is Respect Life Month, kicking off a year of pro-life activities. Cardinal Dolan is the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops pro-life activities committee.

The USCCB is distributing brochures this year titled “Bridges of Mercy for Post-Abortion Healing,” “Caring for Loved Ones at Life’s End,” “Every Suicide Is Tragic,” “Seven Considerations While Navigating Infertility,” “Serene Attentiveness to God’s Creation” and “Accompanying Expectant Mothers Considering Adoption.”

Parishes throughout the archdiocese are taking part in Respect Life Month and 40 Days for Life, a campaign of educational outreach and prayerful presence at abortion facilities under way through Nov. 6.

The three parishes in Dutchess County believe that their united approach to Respect Life activities has advantages.

“Reach out and invite other parishes to your meeting,” Haege advised. “You’ll have more people and more ideas. It’s very inspiring.’’