October 20, 2017

Right to Life dinner celebrates ‘lifesavers’ and drop in abortions

Father Rick Nagel, front row, right, poses with a group of young adults from his parish, St. John the Evangelist in Indianapolis, and students from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis at the Right to Life of Indianapolis annual “Celebrate Life Dinner” on Oct. 3. (Submitted photo by Jacob Day)

Father Rick Nagel, front row, right, poses with a group of young adults from his parish, St. John the Evangelist in Indianapolis, and students from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis at the Right to Life of Indianapolis annual “Celebrate Life Dinner” on Oct. 3. (Submitted photo by Jacob Day)

By Natalie Hoefer

For 35 years, Right to Life of Indianapolis has hosted its annual “Celebrate Life Dinner” to celebrate those who promote respect for life, and to bring those present up to speed on the status of the cause.

(Related story: Respect Life Month: International speaker outlines costs of sexual relations outside of marriage)

On Oct. 3, Right to Life of Indianapolis president Marc Tuttle had good news to share with the more than 900 people who gathered for the event at the Downtown Marriott in Indianapolis: the number of abortions in Marion County dropped by 9 percent last year, and the number of abortions performed in each of the city’s three abortion centers decreased.

“I want to highlight why I think the abortion numbers are dropping, and why I think the number of youth who are embracing life is increasing,” Tuttle said.

“Many women who face an unplanned pregnancy don’t need the resources and counseling provided by our pregnancy resource centers. What they need is the support of a community that respects life.

“They need an encouraging word from a co-worker. They need a smile. … They need men who talk to soon-to-be fathers about the joys and privileges and responsibilities of fatherhood.

“In short, most women who face an unplanned crisis pregnancy need the support and encouragement of a pro-life community around them. And that is the change I see taking place in the last few years in Indianapolis.”

Tuttle noted that each person “has the capacity to be a lifesaver, to be at the right time in the right place to offer encouragement when it is truly needed.

“And that’s really the goal of Right to Life of Indianapolis—to create a city of lifesavers, a city where every life is welcomed, and cherished and nurtured and encouraged.”

When it comes to supporting respect for life from a legal perspective, Tuttle said that “Indiana has one of the most proactively pro-life legislatures in the country.” He went on to list 14 federal and state senators, representatives, judges and other elected officials who were either present at the dinner or sent a representative.

They comprised just a small portion of the more than the lage group present for the event, which included about 400 grade school, high school and university students, and 27 seminarians.

Those in attendance also included two award winners: Harry Steele, winner of the 2017 Charles E. Stimming, Sr., Pro-Life Award, and Dolores Tucker, winner of the 2017 Respect for Life Award.

The Charles E. Stimming, Sr., Pro-Life Award is given “in recognition of outstanding service in fostering protection of innocent human life,” according to event organizers.

Steele, a member of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood, became associated with the respect life movement in 2010 when he began working as a part-time accountant for Right to Life of Indianapolis.

According to the program, he “has brought a servant’s heart and a deep love of his faith and dedication to the pro-life cause to the Right to Life of Indianapolis office. Even in the midst of life’s trials and difficulties, Harry has remained steadfast in his commitment” to the cause and the organization.

The Respect for Life Award, as stated by event organizers, is given to “outstanding persons or organizations in the community who have had a profound impact on the pro-life movement [and] are not afraid to embody pro-life values in the public arena.”

Tucker is the founder and executive director of Truth and Compassion Ministries, Inc., a non-profit organization that trains sidewalk counselors, who not only provide a pro-life, prayerful presence at abortion centers, but also offer expectant mothers information on alternatives to abortion. She has advocated for sidewalk counselors for more than two decades.

The member of Grace Assembly of God Church in Greenwood has also been active with Bartholomew County Right to Life, the Central Indiana Life Chain and the Save One Life Foundation.

Another feature of the annual fundraising dinner is the keynote address provided by a noted national figure in the cause for respect for life. This year’s speaker was Pam Stenzel, who gives talks to more than 500,000 students throughout the world every year promoting chastity and awareness of sexually transmitted diseases associated with an unchaste lifestyle. (See related article)

Earlier that day, Stenzel spoke to the students of Cardinal Ritter Jr./Sr. High School in Indianapolis.

“I thought [her talk] was very powerful,” said Samantha Martin, a junior at the high school and a member of St. Malachy Parish in Brownsburg, who was in attendance at the evening event with other members from the school. “The tone she used was very deep and spoke to me a lot. She said a lot of facts I wasn’t aware of. She spoke about teen pregnancy, and drugs and alcohol, and how there’s a lot more risk to having sex as a youth than just getting pregnant.”

Freshman Rachell Altman of St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish in Indianapolis agreed.

“She expressed herself not only from her [viewpoint] but from what others thought, like young ladies that would go to the clinic,” she said. “That’s what a lot of girls need these days is advice and to have an example [like the one] that she set.” †

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