October 12, 2018

Respect Life award winner Vesper ‘lives pro-life’

Patricia Vesper, a member of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, stands next to Father Joseph Feltz after receiving the 2018 Archbishop O’Meara Respect Life Award at the archdiocesan Respect Life Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral on Oct. 7. Father Feltz presided at the archdiocesan Respect Life Mass. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Patricia Vesper, a member of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, stands next to Father Joseph Feltz after receiving the 2018 Archbishop O’Meara Respect Life Award at the archdiocesan Respect Life Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral on Oct. 7. Father Feltz presided at the archdiocesan Respect Life Mass. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

When Patricia Vesper, 77, joined St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis in 2009, she was looking for a way to become involved in the faith community. She noticed an announcement about the parish’s pro-life committee.

“I’m really crazy about little people,” said the former adoption social worker. So she signed up. Soon after, she signed up for another pro-life cause.

“One thing seemed to build upon another,” she said.

Now, nine years later, her many volunteer efforts in the pro-life movement have earned her an Archbishop O’Meara Respect Life Award. The award is presented by the archdiocesan Office of Human Life and Dignity. Vesper, mother of three and grandmother of five, received the award during the annual archdiocesan Respect Life Mass on Oct. 7 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

After joining her parish’s pro-life committee in 2009, Vesper became co-chair in 2012 and chairperson in 2014. She also coordinates the parish’s efforts with the semi-annual 40 Days for Life campaign, serves as a Gabriel Project prayer partner for sidewalk counselors at the Indianapolis Planned Parenthood abortion facility two days a week, and volunteered seven years for the archdiocese’s Birthline program until an injury prevented her from continuing.

“The most fun thing I did was working at Birthline,” said Vesper. “You meet these young mothers, and they bring in their babies, little five-pounders. People give [items] to us, we give it away—it’s just a joyful thing to do, to give to these women and their babies.”

On the form she submitted to nominate Vesper for the award, Birthline coordinator Jena Hartman called her “one of the most organized, caring people—she ‘walks the talk.’ As she made up the layettes, she did it with so much care, as if it were for Baby Jesus himself. Everything Pat did was well done, with enthusiasm and great care, no matter how menial the task.”

John Hannagan also raved about Vesper in his nominating comments. Hannagan is a fellow member of St. Luke and its pro-life committee. He is also one of the sidewalk counselors she supports in prayer at the Planned Parenthood abortion center.

Vesper shared the story of a young woman who stopped her car near her and Hannagan outside the abortion facility.

“She said she’d been driving up and down Georgetown [Road, where the abortion center is located] looking for John and me for a long time,” said Vesper. “She wanted to thank us for helping her choose life some time ago. She now has a beautiful 11-month-old baby boy. How can you not love doing this?”

“Pat lives pro-life,” Hannagan wrote in his comments. “Everything she does is connected to pro-life issues. When there is a lull in the stream of cars going into the abortion center, Pat is always the first one to say, ‘Let’s pray.’ One sidewalk counselor said, ‘I can’t imagine having a better prayer partner than faithful, prayerful Pat Vesper!’ ”

Her prayerful presence at the abortion center continues during the spring and fall 40 Days for Life campaigns. In addition to finding two volunteers per hour for 12 hours one day a week for each six-week period, she also “signs herself up for the 7 a.m. slot because she knows that is the least favored choice,” commented Indianapolis 40 Days for Life coordinator Debra Minott on her form nominating Vesper. “It is always cold and dark during that hour, but she is there faithfully.”

Vesper is also faithful in her role as chair of her parish’s pro-life committee, according to committee member Margie Schmitz.

“She is very organized, conscientious, enthusiastic and aware of everything pro-life, both locally and nationally. Pat always has a positive attitude.”

One unidentified person was quoted on the nomination form as saying that “Pat is kind and patient, fearless and tenacious—an example for us all. When she needs assistance, it’s impossible to turn away—it would be like saying ‘no’ to a saint!”

Vesper knows all about not being able to say no.

“You have things you want to do, but God has his own plan for you,” she said. “I think this is what I was meant to do.” †

 

Related story: Terre Haute man embraces pro-life cause ‘with a full yes’

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