I don't quite know where to begin on this event. God's plan for life was an obvious underlying theme.
Friday was a conference for priests and religious. It was well attended (around 30 priests, I am told) and the attendees included our current pastor, our previous pastor (who had to drive 50 miles to attend!) and the pastor of the local parish with the NEW Perpetual Adoration chapel. All 3 of these men had what is commonly called a 'late' vocation. (one of them hates that term, he says that his vocation was not late, it was in God's perfect time!).
On Saturday, there was a similar conference for laity from 9:00 am to 12:00 p.m. speakers - Brian Murphy Ph.D. on "God's Beautiful Plan for Life." Fr. Matthew Habiger, OSB, PhD. on the "Role of Conscience" and Father Daniel McCaffrey STD on "Living Humanae Vitae."
Today, Sunday - there were outreach events at 3 different parishes in the diocese.
This event had been in the planning for several months. The primary organizers were a CCL teaching couple from my parish who became upset last year that there were not any diocesan events for Respect Life month in October (we had a diocesan-wide Eucharistic renewal in all the parishes instead). Barbara and Paul Donovan worked extremely hard to make it all happen, and the Devil was out to make it difficult for them. They are a home-schooling family with 7 children, and during the year they had to deal with health problems, housing issues, and all sorts of setbacks that would have caused many others to give up. But with the help of God they perservered. And to have the conference this weekend, after the beatification of Mother Teresa, the crisis in the Terri Schiavo fight, and the Partial Birth Abortion ban, well only GOd could have planned it that way.
The laity conference Saturday was impressive. There were so many babies there with their moms and dads, but the quiet was impressive. These babies were content to be there with their family, and I saw many slings as well as strollers. I did not see a single baby bottle, though. Sippy cups, yes. But no bottles. It was almost like a La Leche League conference except for the priests and the Franciscan brother (from Courage and EnCourage - they had a table there too!).
After the conference, we went over to the church where the missionary image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was visiting. That was also quite an experience.
I am still absorbing what it all means. I think there is a call in there somewhere, but I haven't yet figured out what God is asking of me and mine. To be faithful to Him and to the teachings of His bride, the Church - that much is clear. But the details are not clear yet.
I spent time talking with a woman who works with the NFP outreach program at a catholic hospital. I am hoping and praying that she and I can find a way to set up an NFP only OB/midwifery practice there - there is not a single NFP only OB/Gyn in all of NH. We have a pediatrician and a family practice doc - and that is it! There are at least two Catholic Hospitals in the state and I know that at least one is paying OB providers (as hospital employees with offices on hospital grounds) who prescribe contraception.
I can't speak about the others as I am not as familiar - but I do know that the doctors who deliver there are mainstream OB/Gyns who provide "the full range of reproductive care" especially at the non-Catholic hospitals where they also practice.
If only the parish priests would preach on this topic at least as often as they ask for $$$ to keep the parish running, maybe more nominally catholic physicians would realize what they are doing. I will say that I heard contraception referred to as sin, from the pulpit, for the first time on Sunday. I think the priest's conference lit a fire under at least a few priests.