March 20, 2015

Gabriel Project executive director honored at Sanctity of Life Dinner

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin gives a high-five to 7-year-old Sara Cabrera as the girl’s mother, Maria Hernandez, smiles during the annual Sanctity of Life Dinner on March 11 in Indianapolis. Sara, a second-grader at West Newton Elementary School and a member of St. Ann Parish, both in Indianapolis, wrote a letter to President Barack Obama encouraging him to change his pro-abortion stance and become a pro-life president. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin gives a high-five to 7-year-old Sara Cabrera as the girl’s mother, Maria Hernandez, smiles during the annual Sanctity of Life Dinner on March 11 in Indianapolis. Sara, a second-grader at West Newton Elementary School and a member of St. Ann Parish, both in Indianapolis, wrote a letter to President Barack Obama encouraging him to change his pro-abortion stance and become a pro-life president. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

When Eileen Hartman and the pro-life committee at St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus decided to start a Gabriel Project chapter in 1998, Hartman said she was willing to help but had no interest in leading the group.

Seventeen years later, Hartman has received the archdiocese’s Sanctity of Life Award for her tremendous leadership as executive director of Great Lakes Gabriel Project (GLGB) and its many services to help women in crisis pregnancies.

As executive director, she has led the way in expanding the organization’s services to include the 40 Days for Life campaign in the archdiocese, a pregnancy center, a mobile ultrasound unit and a soon-to-launch radio station.

The award, from the archdiocesan Office of Pro-Life and Family Life, was presented at the annual Sanctity of Life Dinner on March 11 at Primo Banquet Hall and Conference Center in Indianapolis. Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin delivered the keynote address. He congratulated Hartman “for her work … helping women and families facing unplanned and difficult pregnancies.”

Gabriel Project is a network of congregations providing peer-counseling about abortion, and offering immediate and practical help to women and families experiencing difficult or unplanned pregnancies. Under Hartman’s leadership, the Great Lakes chapter has grown to include congregations in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York and Ohio.

Hartman, now a member of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood, admitted being “uncomfortable” when she first heard she had been selected to receive the award.

“I’m receiving it on behalf of all the ‘angels’ and all the folks involved in Great Lakes Gabriel Project,” she said. ‘Angels’ are women involved in the ministry who assist those who turn to GLGP for help during a crisis pregnancy.

“And I especially accept it on behalf of all those women who choose life for their babies,” Hartman added. “They are the real heroes.”

Almost 250 people from around central and southern Indiana attended the dinner in support of Hartman and the pro-life cause.

Cardinal Ritter Jr./Sr. High School senior Alayna Daehler attended with her fellow Ritter Pro-Life Club members.

“I was honored to come and listen to the message of Archbishop Tobin, and to better understand why pro-life and supporting pro-life is so important, especially in today’s society,” she said.

Duane Meyer, father of Father Jonathan Meyer and a member of St. Lawrence Parish in Lawrenceburg, made the hour-and-a-half trip to Indianapolis with members of the Dearborn and Ohio County Right to Life group.

“We wanted to come and support the pro-life cause,” he said. “It was a wonderful event. Eileen’s bio is extremely impressive. She is well-deserving of the award.”

The evening also served as a tribute to pro-life accomplishments throughout central and southern Indiana during the last year.

In her address to those in attendance, Rebecca Niemerg, director of the archdiocesan Office of Pro-Life and Family Life, listed many of those accomplishments: the collection of more than 27,000 diapers by the students of Roncalli and Bishop Chatard high schools, both in Indianapolis; the offering of a conference on decision-making in health care, in cooperation with St. Vincent Health; and the development of monthly faith- and knowledge-sharing gatherings for couples dealing with infertility.

In his keynote address, Archbishop Tobin commented on his recent participation on the archdiocesan pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and how his experience related to the need for respect of all life.

“One of the things that struck me as we traveled throughout Israel was that the Greco-Roman world during the time of Jesus and the years immediately following his death and resurrection weren’t that different from our world today when it comes to how people viewed the sanctity of life,” he said. “In Roman law, abortion and even infanticide were permitted. Jews and the early Christians who believed in the One God—the author of all life—believed that abortion was no different than murder.”

The archbishop touched on other areas in need of respect for the sanctity of life—the sick, the dying, those considering euthanasia and those facing the death penalty.

“We are called to care not only for ourselves, but to care for others,” he said. “When we are discouraged by setbacks in our efforts to foster a culture of life, we need to return to the empty tomb. Death will not have the final word.”
 

(For information on upcoming Office of Pro-Life and Family Life ministries and events, log on to www.archindy.org/plfl. To donate from the site, click on “Ministries” on the left side menu, then click on donate.)

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