October 7, 2016

Recasners ‘work behind the scenes tirelessly’ for respect for life

Deacon Michael Braun, left, and archdiocesan Office of Pro-Life and Family Life director Rebecca Niemerg, center, look on as Msgr. William F. Stumpf, vicar general, presents Ann and Jim Recasner with the 2016 Archbishop O’Meara Respect Life Award during the Respect Life Sunday Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Oct. 2. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Deacon Michael Braun, left, and archdiocesan Office of Pro-Life and Family Life director Rebecca Niemerg, center, look on as Msgr. William F. Stumpf, vicar general, presents Ann and Jim Recasner with the 2016 Archbishop O’Meara Respect Life Award during the Respect Life Sunday Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Oct. 2. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

Ten years ago, Jim and Ann Recasner were ready to enjoy a retirement of rocking chairs and relaxation.

Then three things happened, ultimately leading the couple to the prolific pro-life involvement for which they were honored with the 2016 Archbishop O’Meara Respect Life Award, which they received at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Oct. 2 during the archdiocesan Respect Life Sunday Mass.

First, Jim had a close brush with death.

“When you’re receiving the anointing of the sick because you’re on your way to emergency surgery, it does have a tendency to change your perspective on a lot of things,” he admits.

Ann recalls an impactful statement the surgeon made after performing a follow-up operation.

“She said she had anticipated when she went back in that she would find tremendous damage, but she found new pink tissue growing instead,” Ann recalls. “She said, ‘Obviously God has a plan for this man, or he’d be dead.’ ”

The next impact came when one of their grandsons, Maddox, was born with multiple health problems and special needs. The Recasners, who lost a child at a young age, have helped their only living daughter, Grace, care for Maddox, taking him to a never-ending stream of appointments with doctors and specialists.

“He’s an adorable child, innocent and joyful in the face of significant cognitive and physical challenges,” says Ann. “His life is such a message of love for other people.”

And so is Maddox’s older brother, Conor, “whose unconditional love for his brother marks the culture of life,” says Jim.

The final push came about five years ago, when Jim and Ann began attending a Bible study at their parish, SS. Francis and Clare of Assisi in Greenwood, led by then-pastor Father Vincent Lampert.

“It went beyond the Bible to include the teachings and traditions of the Church,” says Jim. “In that process, one of the things we started thinking about more was the culture of life and Pope Francis urging that we get out and live our faith.”

With that focus, combined with Jim’s new lease on life and the impact of their special needs grandson, involvement in the pro-life movement was a natural fit for the Recasners.

Currently, they serve as interim leaders for the Respect Life Ministry at their parish.

But “interim” does not mean “idle.”

“Since they have taken over, not only were established programs revitalized and grown, but many, many new programs and support groups were established, starting with Gabriel Project,” reads a comment on an award nomination form written by Kim Stecher, a member of the SS. Francis and Clare of Assisi Respect Life Ministry.

Jim, 67, and Ann, 71, have also reached out to integrate other groups that promote respect and dignity for life, such as KIC-IT, a homeless ministry in Johnson County; St. Elizabeth/Coleman Pregnancy and Adoption Services; Birthline; and Center for Global Impact (CGI), an organization which provides training and employment for women and girls who are at risk of labor and sex trafficking in Cambodia.

They initiated a Fair Trade Market event last Lent, and held a human trafficking awareness program that included a LifeTeen Mass, speakers and a fashion show of styles from CGI. The Recasners have also made an effort to involve other parish ministries and the school in pro-life efforts.

“They were also very involved with our parish outreach committee in bringing the CRS [Catholic Relief Services] Rice Bowl campaign [to the parish] last Lent, which helped the CRS effort and also brought in funds to support our [parish] food pantry,” writes SS. Francis and Clare of Assisi parishioner Deacon Ron Pirau on a nomination form.

All this they have done while maintaining the Respect Life Ministry’s existing projects of coordinating the parish’s 40 Days for Life prayer efforts in the spring and fall, and hosting the pro-life Crossroads walkers as they pass through Indianapolis each summer.

“Jim and Ann work behind the scenes tirelessly on these programs,” writes Stecher. “They offer not only leadership and guidance, but a prayerful support.”

The Recasners see themselves as “merely the helpers, joining with many, many others in the parish, the archdiocese and the community to do God’s work through respect for all human life,” says Jim.

Still, he admits their work with the ministry is “almost a full-time job.”

But they’re not complaining, says Ann.

“God choreographs your life,” she explains. “If you’re dedicated to his service, you do get things done for your family. Your family always comes first, then God provides the time and material” to meet the needs of the ministry.

“You can’t put it down when you have direct contact with people who are suffering,” she says. †

 

Related story: Respect Life Sunday -- ‘Be positive’ in the respect for life battle, transform hearts, says Msgr. Stumpf

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