St. Joseph, protector of Holy Family, is model for 2021 Respect Life Month
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As part of the Year of St. Joseph declared by Pope Francis, the U.S. Catholic Church's annual Respect Life Month celebration in October "highlights the example of that great saint" as protector of life, said the chairman of the U.S. bishops' pro-life committee.
"As the faithful protector of both Jesus and Mary," St. Joseph is "a profound reminder of our own call to welcome, safeguard and defend God's precious gift of human life," said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas.
"Despite the mysterious circumstances surrounding Mary's pregnancy, St. Joseph took her into his home at the word of the angel," and like the saint, "we are also called to care for those God has entrusted to us -- especially vulnerable mothers and children," the archbishop said.
The prelate, who is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, made the comments in a Sept. 27 statement.
During October, Respect Life Sunday is observed on the first Sunday of the month, which this year is Oct. 3.
To join in prayer for the intercession of St. Joseph, defender of life, visit www.respectlife.org/prayer-to-st-joseph.
Various resources for celebrating Respect for Life Month -- including dozens of articles, prayer cards, prayers for life, a toolkit for parish pro-life leaders, homily helps and other resources can be found online at https://www.respectlife.org/respect-life-month.
As the Holy Family's protector, St. Joseph "guided their journey to Bethlehem, found shelter and welcomed the infant Jesus as his son," Archbishop Naumann said. "When Herod threatened the life of the Christ Child, St. Joseph left his homeland behind and fled with Jesus and Mary to Egypt."
"We can follow in the footsteps of St. Joseph as protector by advocating against taxpayer-funded abortion, which targets the lives of millions of poor children and their mothers here in the United States," he continued.
"We can imitate his care and provision by helping to start Walking with Moms in Need at our parishes, 'walking in the shoes' of mothers experiencing a difficult pregnancy, especially low-income mothers in our communities," he said.
In March 2020, the USCCB's pro-life committee asked all U.S. Catholic bishops to invite the parishes in their dioceses to join a nationwide effort called "Walking With Moms in Need: A Year of Service," which began March 25 of that year.
But "like everything else, the roll out of Walking with Moms in Need was dramatically impacted by COVID-19," Archbishop Naumann noted in a Sept. 21 address to a Nebraska pro-life conference.
He said the pro-life committee "is renewing our efforts to encourage every diocese and parish to implement the Walking with Moms in Need process."
Walking with Moms in Need asks every diocese and parish to make an assessment of the resources available to assist mothers experiencing a difficult pregnancy.
The program seeks to identify gaps in available services and then encourage dioceses and parishes to find ways to fill those gaps. Walking with Moms in Need also includes efforts to communicate better available resources and to encourage every Catholic to support Pregnancy Resource Centers.
The program has its own website, www.walkingwithmoms.com, with resources, outreach tools and models to assist parishes in this effort.
Also, Archbishop Naumann in his Sept. 27 statement urged Catholics to learn more about preventing taxpayer-funded abortion by visiting www.notaxpayerabortion.com.
"At times, we may feel uncertain of our ability to answer the Lord's call. But he invites us to faithfully respond, despite our own fears or weaknesses: 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness' (2 Cor 12:9)," the archbishop said.
"May we imitate St. Joseph's faithful trust and courage as we work to uphold the dignity of every human life," he added. "St. Joseph, defender of life, pray for us!"