Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic
“Don’t give up, God is working with us,” was the clear message of a Respect Life Conference on Oct. 26 at St. Agnes Parish in Naples. The theme for the conference was “From Conception to Natural Death,” and inspirational speakers provided critical information on how to create a culture of life.
St. Agnes Pastor Father Bob Kantor said the parish conference, organized by the Justice and Peace Committee and Respect Life Coordinator Rosemary Dresch, was inspired by the 2018 Florida Respect Life Conference which was hosted by the Diocese of Venice and held in Punta Gorda.
Father Kantor added that while not many were able to attend the 2019 state conference in St. Augustine, the local conference was able to reach out to more in the parish and serve as a compliment for the efforts of Respect Life in the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Venice in hope and unity with the society and the world.
The Conference opened with Father George Ratzmann, Pastor of St. William Parish in Naples, who spoke about Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life). This 1995 encyclical of St. John Paul II which set the standard for the Church Teaching on the value and sacredness of all human life from conception to natural death.
“Anytime life is threatened or there is an assault on human life, it is also an assault on God, and God’s dignity, since we share in God’s dignity,” Father Ratzmann explained.
This culture of life is not only about biological life, Father Ratzmann stressed, but also about spiritual, economic, emotional life; including any act that diminishes any human dignity. This means that it is not enough to ensure that the unborn is saved, but that the child has access to nutrition, clean water, education and more, because that combines to assist them to become the person God intended.
Other conference speakers included Pamela Wood Stenzel on developing a culture of life among youth; Deacon Henry DeMena on healing following a loss through miscarriage; Dr. Deacon Al Mauriello on the Catholic perspective of end of life issues; Marietta Jaeger Lane on the death penalty while sharing her personal story of loss, fury and forgiveness; and Father Michael Orsi, Parochial Vicar at St. Agnes and host of local pro-life show Action for Life, on how to make a difference on pro-life issues.