Diocese to present first-ever Respect Life Conference; people of all ages welcome

Attacks on the dignity of the human person at every level make it necessary to engage the culture now and people will get the information they need to do that at the first-ever Respect Life Conference hosted by the Respect Life Ministry of the Diocese of Peoria on Sept. 13-14. All sessions will be held at the Spalding Pastoral Center in Peoria.

“The Truth Will Set You Free” is the theme for the inaugural conference. In addition to a full day of talks on pro-life topics on Sept. 14, special presentations are planned for students in grades six through 12, and college students and young adults on Sept. 13.

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, will celebrate the closing Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Cecilia Soñé, director of the diocese’s Respect Life Ministry, said what makes the conference even more special are the three intercessors chosen for it: St. Catherine of Siena, a doctor of the church who fearlessly “said it like it is”; St. Pope John Paul II, who is known for the theology of the body and championing the Gospel of Life; and Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, who was very pro-life. Having him near at the closing Mass is something she’s looking forward to.


Soñé said that the conference will explore the dignity of the human person as a whole: spiritual, physical, psychological and emotional.

“The reason for this is to address a lot of the issues that are constantly being pressed upon our culture,” she told The Catholic Post.

Those include:

  • “Catholic Bioethics Applied to the End of Life” by Father Alfred Cioffi, associate professor of biology and bioethics and director of the Institute for Bioethics at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Florida;
  • “Internet Pornography Addiction: Understanding the Neurobiology and a Catholic Approach to Treatment” by Sister Marysia Weber of the Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan;
  • “Tears of the Fisherman: Understanding Men and Abortion Loss” by Kevin Burke, co-founder of Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries; and
  • “Almost Invisible: How to See and Help the Victims of Human Trafficking” by Sister Mary Angela Alexander, also a member of the Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan.

On Sept. 13, Ryan Bomberger, founder of the Radiance Foundation, will present “Abortion 101” to the students in grades six through 12 from 10 a.m. to noon, and “Less Activism. More Factivism” to the college students and young adults from 6:30 to 8 p.m. He will also talk before lunch on Sept. 14.

The Respect Life Conference is intended not just for health care providers and students, but for clergy, religious and laity, too. Spanish translation will be offered by the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary for all the talks.

Registration for the college students and young adults is $10 for both days and must be received by Sept. 7.

There is no charge for the students attending Friday morning’s session, but Catholic school students must register with Jerry Sanderson, associate superintendent of diocesan schools, at (309) 671-1550. All other students are asked to contact Suzie Meismer at (309) 966-0385 or smeismer@ccdop.org.

Clergy and religious may attend at no charge, but must register so lunch can be arranged.

Registration for adults is $25 if received by Aug. 13, and $40 through Sept. 7. Lunch is included. The fee is also $40 for walk-ins, but lunch cannot be guaranteed.

To register online or to download a brochure, visit cdop.weshareonline.org/RespectLifeConference.

SPALDING PASTORAL CENTER | 419 NE MADISON AVENUE | PEORIA, IL 61603 | PHONE (309) 671-1550 | FAX (309) 671-1595
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