Friday, April 29, 2016

In Thanksgiving for Witnesses to Life

As the semester slowly winds down, my brothers, allow me to impose on you for prayers for two witnesses to life, old colleagues and friends.

The first is a great man who is retiring from the Bishops’ Conference.  During my time there I was honored to call Richard and Lee Ann Doerflinger my friends.  Richard was Associate Director of the Secretariat for Pro-Life activities and the cause for life never had a more articulate or devoted advocate.

I recall how their dedication to their four children was complete, as I remember being present for Matthew’s First Communion and, so very sadly, Thomas’ Funeral after he was killed by an IED in Iraq at the age of 20.

Through it all, Richard was not only the most articulate media spokesman for the Pro-Life cause (I can still remember how any I was by how he was treated on the Dianne Rheims Show!) but with Lee Ann, a living testament to Evangelium Vitae.

Well, now Richard is retiring from the office, and there’s a beautiful article on his work by CNS. I’d be grateful for a little prayer in gratitude for Richard and all the people like him who work behind the scenes to build up the Church and protect the most vulnerable among us.

And while you’re at it, please remember another great advocate for life from that same Secretariat, Susan Wills.  Susan has been retired a few more years than Richard, but with her husband Frank recently buried their beloved son Robbie, a seminarian for the Legionaires for Christ.  Robbie was preparing to begin Theology this Fall in Rome when he died from a tragic accident.

I know Susan would not object if I quoted a line from her last email to me: “I may be scandalizing some people, but I refuse to wallow in sorrow for "my loss" when the whole point of having kids is to make sure they get to heaven. And considering how happy he may now be, how could I not rejoice?”  That, my brothers, is Faith.  That is belief in the Gospel of Life.

Life and Death are ever before us.  The example of Richard and Susan makes us stronger and reminds us all to never tire of choosing life.