October 5, 2012

Respect Life Sunday Archdiocese honors pro-life supporters for their service

By Mary Ann Garber

Our Lady of Perpetual Help parishioner Sandra Bierly of New Albany and St. Michael parishioner Patrick Stutz of Greenfield will receive distinguished pro-life volunteer service awards from the archdiocese on Respect Life Sunday.

They will be honored at the conclusion of the archdiocesan Respect Life Mass on Oct. 7 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral, 1347 N. Meridian St., in Indianapolis.

Father Stephen Giannini, vice chancellor and archdiocesan vicar for clergy and parish life coordinators, is the principal celebrant for the pro-life Mass, which begins at 1 p.m. He will represent Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, apostolic administrator, during the liturgy and awards ceremony.

After the Mass, Catholics will participate in the ecumenical Central Indiana Life Chain prayer vigil from 2:30 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. along North Meridian Street in Indianapolis.

Both Respect Life Award recipients have participated in a number of pro-life projects in recent years.

‘Pro-life to the core’

Sandra BierlyBierly will receive the 2012 Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Respect for Life Award for outstanding service to the cause of life.

“Sandra Bierly is pro-life to the core,” Our Lady of Perpetual Help staff members Katelyn Walker and Laurie Slusser of New Albany explained in their nomination letter.

“Her words, actions and prayers all point to a final goal of greater respect for all human life from conception to natural death,” Walker and Slusser wrote. “… Sandy is constantly thinking of ways to open people’s minds and hearts to the value of life at our parish. Through her efforts, our parish now has a petition that prays for greater respect for life at every weekend Mass.”

Walker, director of music, and Slusser, parish secretary, noted that Bierly has headed “an ever-growing pro-life committee for over five years.”

Bierly also coordinates a media advertising campaign to promote respect for life, student pro-life essay project, Mother’s Day rose sale and baby bottle fundraiser in the New Albany Deanery parish to benefit pro-life organizations.

Each Monday, Bierly helps present an hour of eucharistic adoration and “Rosary for Life” at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church. She also devotes many hours to peaceful prayers outside an abortion facility without time off for food or rest.

Last year, Bierly made nearly 500 rosaries to promote the parish’s weekly “Rosary for Life” effort among school families. To facilitate that devotion, she helped the pro-life committee organize a “Meet Me at the Benches” time for parents to gather outside the school on weekday afternoons and pray the rosary before picking up their children.

She also promotes the Life Chain and Respect Life Sunday Mass each year by encouraging parishioners to travel from southern Indiana to Indianapolis for the archdiocesan pro-life observance.

This year, a large group of Our Lady of Perpetual Help parishioners will be at the cathedral to pray for the cause of life and applaud as Bierly accepts her award.

She also participates in the National March for Life in Washington, and volunteers as a pro-life counselor at Choices for Women and the Pregnancy Resource Center in southern Indiana.

Bierly also makes time to help with Right to Life of Southern Indiana projects as well as visit sick and homebound Catholics to bring the Eucharist to them as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion.

She and her husband, Rich, are the parents of three grown children. They have eight grandchildren.

When she learned of her award, Bierly offered her thanks to Bishop Paul D. Etienne, the former pastor and now bishop of the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyo., who asked her to serve as parish pro-life coordinator in 2006.

“As I look back at the last six years, I see how I have grown as a person and how we have grown as a parish in our awareness of the sacredness of all life and the reality of abortion,” Bierly said. “I am so grateful for our pro-life team, our parishioners and the support of our pastor, Father Eric Augenstein. Without their help, we would not have the vivacious and perseverant, life-promoting parish that we now have.”

‘Truly an advocate for pro-life’

Patrick StutzPatrick Stutz, a senior at Greenfield Central High School, will receive the 2012 Our Lady of Guadalupe Pro-Life Youth Award for his exemplary efforts to promote respect for life as a teenager.

He is the son of St. Michael parishioners John and Michelle Stutz of Greenfield, and has four siblings.

Paula Richey, coordinator of youth and family ministries at St. Michael Parish, said Patrick is “passionate about the dignity and sanctity of human life, … very strong in his beliefs [and] truly an advocate for pro-life” who leads other youths by his dedication to service.

Two years ago, he participated in a summer mission trip with the Indianapolis East Deanery parish’s youth group to help impoverished people displaced by flooding in Nashville, Tenn.

Patrick and three friends recently organized a concert to raise funds for a local soup kitchen that serves the poor.

He keeps busy as a student-athlete, four-year member of the swim team, All-State Honor Choir member and cantor for Masses, Richey said, but always finds time to participate in pro-life projects, including praying outside abortion facilities with his father to try to save lives and souls.

Patrick enjoys studying science, and said the reality that life begins at conception is “a proven scientific fact.”

The Catholic Church teaches the truth about the sanctity and dignity of life from conception to natural death, he said. “I firmly believe that [unborn babies] should be respected as human life just as we respect each other as humans. … We need to stand up for those who don’t have a voice.” †

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