Friday, August 9, 2013

Spirit & Life - The Work of the Mission


HLI Logo This week's Spirit & Life is by Father Shenan J. Boquet, president of Human Life International.
Spirit & Life is the weekly e-column of
Human Life International. 
Dear deaconjohn,
During my recent trip to California, I had the humble privilege of speaking to supporters and pro-life activists about the many ways Human Life International accomplishes her mission to defend life, faith, and family around the world. I traveled Napa, California to attend the third annual Napa Institute conference on Equipping Catholics in the "Next America," but I also spent some time at parishes and had speaking engagements in Sacramento and Santa Rosa. Listening to the questions and comments following my presentations, I found that many were amazed at the amount and variety of activities HLI's pro-life missionaries are involved with in their life-saving work. Honestly, I share in their amazement. Every week during status meetings, I am brought up-to-date on the many projects, conferences and activities our regional directors, affiliates and their staff are doing across the globe. Sometimes it's hard to keep up with all that is happening in our mission field, so I thought for this week's Spirit and Life I would share a few of these projects with you.
A major component of our work in Latin America, spearheaded by our regional director Mario Rojas, involves continuing formation for bishops, priests, seminarians and religious in the pro-life teachings of the Church. Our REDESSVIDA conferences are instrumental in this work and operate at both a diocesan and international level. After a successful diocesan conference last June in Mexico City, planning for the next series of conferences, including the international REDESSVIDA conference in Guadalajara next June, is already underway. From the beginning, HLI has seen its collaborative work with the clergy and future Church leaders as a vital link in confronting the culture of death. Their influence within their respective responsibilities provides a direct connection to people in the pews, parochial schools, catechetical programs, colleges, universities and seminaries; in other words, they are on the front lines of the battle. If they are properly prepared to enter into these conversations and moments concerning life issues, then they are capable of guiding minds, hearts and actions.
A second area of influence in Latin America is through HLI's Pro-Life Catechetical Formation/Training program. This program focuses on the dignity of the human person within a proper Christian anthropology. The program includes philosophy, morality, natural law, bioethics, theology, scripture and Church teaching. It is available for clergy, religious and laity. This educational program, which can also be taken online, is being utilized in seminaries, dioceses and lay formation programs. A similar program is being utilized in our Miami office where training seminars are conducted by HLI's Adolfo CastaƱeda. HLI commits to this particular work because it directly affects the short-term issues facing human life, and has a long-term impact upon the culture. Proper education and formation confronts ignorance and misunderstanding and replaces it with a clear ability to articulate the truth about human life.
There is another program I need to mention that is having a tremendous influence in Latin America: the operation of crisis pregnancy centers for women. HLI, in collaboration with local pro-life leaders, has funded, established and supported these powerful centers of genuine love, hope and care for women and their children across Latin America. They make a strategic difference in the battle for life, and they have an immediate impact -- the lives of women and their babies are saved every day. Women are provided genuine assistance in their time of need. Not only do the centers provide truthful answers about pregnancy and the consequences of abortion, but they also provide maternal care throughout the pregnancy, on-going counsel, supplies, educational and job opportunities, as well as follow-up care after the baby is born. In other words, they walk alongside our sisters and look at the entire person's needs and well-being. It is not, as those supporting abortion claim, just about the baby. It is about human life, the sacredness of womanhood, family life and the protection of every life. I have seen first hand the accomplishments of these centers and am very proud that we share in this great corporal work of love and charity.
As with our efforts in Latin America, HLI's commitment to build and sustain a Culture of Life in Africa is of equal and vital importance. We know that population control groups market their agenda and ideology heavily upon the people African. HLI has two regional directors promoting her mission in Africa: George Wirnkar in Cameroon, who oversees HLI's efforts in French-speaking Africa, and Emil Hagamu in Tanzania, who works in English-speaking communities. These champions for life and their staff who assist them diligently work to confront the anti-life agenda of population control groups like Marie Stopes, International Planned Parenthood Federation and the Gates Foundation. I wish I could tell you everything they are doing, but space and time do not allow. However, let me share one program having a tremendous impact.
Recently, HLI Kenya Director Father Raphael Wanjohi visited our international headquarters in Virginia and gave a report on the projects he is currently working on in Kenya. As with our programs in Latin American, Father Wanjohi, a former seminary rector and educator, works with the local bishops, priests and seminarians to further educate them on life issues. He has designed an educational program geared towards bringing students and people in key professions into the pro-life movement in Kenya: doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers, legislators and other white collar professions. Why is this vital? If we can provide sound formation and education in the fields of philosophy, bioethics, morality, medicine, Christian anthropology, theology and Church teaching, then we will have a much better chance to rewrite the current narrative and confront the deceptive consequences of the culture of death prevailing across the African continent.
Father Wanjohi, who has been building this program and network of pro-life professionals for ten years, expressed excitement because students in the program are graduating from their disciplines and entering their respective fields. They bring with them what they have learned in their pro-life training and confront the deceptive teachings undermining the Culture of Life in Africa. To further support this effort, Father has built a network of guilds (medical professionals, teachers, etc.) to sustain and nourish the continued work. Again, this has a short-term and long-term impact. HLI is working to duplicate this program across our mission field.
These are but a few examples of HLI's efforts to build and nourish a Culture of Life around the world. In this short article I have failed to do justice to the scope of work, or mention the many people involved, in this awesome mission. I am most grateful to each of them for their witness and sacrifices made for the defense of life.
Thank you for your support of HLI. I will share more of HLI's work in future articles. Meanwhile, please continue to pray for the success of our life-saving mission, of which you play a crucial role, and for those we serve.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr Boquet signature
Father Shenan J. Boquet
President, Human Life International