September 29, 2006

Archdiocese honors couple, teen
for their pro-life work

By Mary Ann Wyand

A Hispanic couple from St. Mary Parish in Indianapolis and a teenage girl from St. Lawrence Parish in Lawrence-burg are the 2006 recipients of archdiocesan pro-life awards for distinguished service to the cause of life.

Msgr. Joseph F. Schaedel, vicar general, will present the Archbishop O’Meara Respect Life Award to Norberto and Maria Aguayo and the Our Lady of Guadalupe Pro-Life Youth Award to Claire Stange during the archdiocesan Respect Life Mass at 1 p.m. on Oct. 1 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

Father Scott Nobbe, who was ordained on June 24, is the celebrant for the bilingual pro-life Mass, which is open to the public. He serves as executive assistant to Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein and liaison for Hispanic ministry in the archdiocese.

The Aguayos were active in the Church’s pro-life ministry in Guadalajara, Mexico, where they taught Natural Family Planning classes, presented a “Responsible Parenthood and Respect for Life” program, and helped with youth ministry activities in the diocese.

“Our family was an important part of the apostolate to support life and [to] organize and provide programs [in Guadalajara],” they explained. “We organized a march in the center of the city called ‘The March of Silence’ in honor of our brothers and sisters that died through … abortions.”

The Aguayos have four children and seven grandchildren. They are members of the Catholic Family Movement.

After moving to Indianapolis in 1997, they became active in pro-life ministry with Hispanics at St. Patrick and St. Mary parishes.

They teach Natural Family Planning classes, counsel expectant mothers to choose life for their babies as sidewalk counselors outside abortion clinics, and participate in the archdiocesan Helpers of God’s Precious Infants monthly pro-life Mass and prayer ministry.

Father Michael O’Mara, pastor of St. Mary Parish, nominated the Aguayos for their “steadfast [work] in promoting the sanctity of life from conception to natural death.”

“From the pro-life group we were forming [for Hispanics], we conducted two symposiums for youth with the pro-life theme,” the Aguayos explained. “We are giving programs on [human sexuality from a Christian perspective] for youth and adolescents that include talks and parish retreats. We have programs of ‘Responsible Parenthood’ that teach the Billings Method [of Natural Family Planning] to couples.”

They also participate in and promote the annual Central Indiana Life Chain on Respect Life Sunday, which begins at 2:30 p.m. this year on North Meridian Street.

The Aguayos also collaborate with the Justice Coalition for Immigrants, coordinate a Christian Family Movement group for 90 Hispanic families, present Marriage Encounter programs and organize a “Responsible Mothers” support group for single mothers.

St. Lawrence parishioner Claire Stange of Lawrence-burg, the recipient of this year’s pro-life youth award, is a home-schooled senior who plans to study occupational therapy in college.

The daughter of Larry and Susan Stange, she is the fourth child in a family of 11 children. The Stange family is active in Presentation Ministries, a Catholic lay ministry group based in Cincinnati.

“I want to work with children with special needs,” Claire explained. “That is my greatest wish.”

She helps her parents care for her younger siblings, including 9-year-old Samuel and 4-year-old John, who have Fragile X Syndrome, which causes cognitive disabilities.

St. Lawrence parishioner Roseann Lampert of Lawrenceburg, co-chair of the parish pro-life committee, nominated Claire for the pro-life youth award.

“She has volunteered at the parish office, assisting the secretary for four years,” Lampert said, “and frequently helps a neighborhood family by baby-sitting for their 6-year-old son, who is in a persistent vegetative state from a near-drowning accident three years ago.”

“Life is everything to me,” Claire said. “I feel so blessed that my parents were open to life, and they have raised me the same way. What a gift my brothers and sisters have been to me. It’s really made me who I am today because I have such a love for children and I respect life so much. I really enjoy helping children.”

Claire has participated in the national March for Life and Pro-Life Mass in Washington three times with her family.

“We go every year,” she said. “It’s really an awesome experience going there, seeing all the people marching to defend the lives of [unborn] babies, … fighting for what these children can’t do themselves. It’s really a touching experience.”

Claire said her faith has inspired her to work for the cause of life.

“My faith has been my pillar to lean against, and it’s really helped me when I go out and defend pro-life [issues],” she said. “I know the truth of the faith, and it helps me to know what’s morally right and to be able to see the evils of abortion and euthanasia. … Pro-life [work] has strengthened my faith all the more.”

Claire participates in Mass every day with her family and has invited two teenagers to join the Catholic Church. One girl is participating in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program and the other girl joined the Church during the Easter Vigil on April 15.

“The Eucharist is the base of my whole life,” Claire said. “I’ve built my life upon it. My parents raised me to love my faith, and to be bold enough to go out and share it. That has given me the confidence to be able to share my faith and values. I would encourage people to stand up and truly share what they believe with others.” †


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