Archdiocesan Respect Life Month materials

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The archdiocesan Faith Formation group has put together the Respect Life Month materials for 2015-2016.

Please feel free to offer feedback and suggestions by emailing

NEW item – Respect Life Packet 2015 in Word document format. This includes Glossaries for grades 7-12 and Adults as well as Lesson Plans/Activities for K-2, 6-8, YouTube videos for High School students and Service Projects for 9-12.

NEW item – Respect Life Packet 2015 in PDF format. Same as the Word document but in PDF format.

NEW item – Brouchure – Life matters: Reproductive Technologies 2011. An older brochure, still very relevant.

And here is a link back to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) site for their 2015-2016 Respect Life materials.


This is the fifth year of a five year cycle and as either a reminder or perhaps as a first time look here is the five year cycle;

Respect Life Program

Archdiocese of Dubuque K-12 Educational Programs

Goal: To provide a comprehensive and cohesive age-appropriate program concerning respect life issues for all Archdiocesan K-12 educational programs including Catholic Schools, Religious Education Programs, and Youth Ministry.

Overview: A five-year cycle would be established rotating life issues. A single topical area would be the focus of education each year.  This approach to life issues would allow use of resources to target a specific category of  life issues across the Archdiocese in all schools, RE programs, and youth ministry in a given academic year. At the same time, the cycle in its entirety would educate students in the Church’s consistent ethic of life. All elements of this program including the delivery, content, and potential speakers are required to follow the Policy For Church Involvement in Political Affairs, Archdiocese of Dubuque, November 1, 2007.

For each category of life issues, materials and lessons will be developed to be used in educational settings. A list of potential speakers would also be developed.

This projected program provides a comprehensive approach to all issues allowing students to develop a stronger knowledge base on all topics related to life issues.


  • Promote the Church’s consistent ethic of life
  • Staff and students become thoroughly familiar with Church teaching on life issues.
  • Acquire accurate factual information on life issues.
  • Share resources and teaching strategies to instruct students on these issues.
  • Develop lesson plans that accurately reflect the Church’s teachings on these important topics.

Issues Rotation

2011-2012  Respecting human life in science. Topics include stem cell research, human cloning, genetic engineering, and weaponry.

2012-2013  Respecting human life through respecting the environment. Topics include recycling, reducing carbon footprint, responsible use of limited natural resources, and alternative energy.*

2013-2014 Respecting life through awareness of issues surrounding poverty. Topics include sweatshops, child labor, fair trade, and economic disparity; disproportionate infliction of the death penalty on the poor.

2014-2015 Respecting human life through awareness of aging. Topics include the elderly, abuse, and care; end of life issues (life-sustaining treatments, euthanasia and assisted suicide.

2015-2016 Respecting human life relating to beginning of life issues. Topics include abortion, birth control, and assisted reproductive technologies.

* While environmental stewardship is not part of the typical respect life agenda, John Paul II does include environmental issues in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae.


Archdiocesan Respect Life Month Materials

Respect Life Prayers

Prayer for the Unborn

Heavenly Father, in Your love for us, protect against the wickedness of the devil, those helpless little ones to whom You have given the gift of life. Touch with pity the hearts of those women pregnant in our world today who are not thinking of motherhood. Help them to see that the child they carry is made in Your image – as well as theirs – made for eternal life. Dispel their fear and selfishness and give them true womanly hearts to love their babies and give them birth and all the needed care that a mother can give. We ask this through Jesus Christ, Your Son, Our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.

Prayer for Life by Pope John Paul II

O Mary, bright dawn of the new world, Mother of the living, to you do we entrust the cause of life: Look down, O Mother, upon the vast numbers of babies to be born, of the poor whose lives are made difficult, of men and women who are victims of brutal violence, of the elderly and the sick killed by indifference or out of misguided mercy. Grant that all who believe in your Son may proclaim the Gospel of life with honesty and love to the people of our time. Obtain for them the grace to accept that Gospel as a gift ever new, the joy of celebrating it with gratitude throughout their lives and the courage to bear witness to it resolutely, in order to build, together with all people of good will, the civilization of truth and love, to the praise and glory of God, the Creator and lover of life. Amen

Heavenly Father, the beauty and dignity of human life was the crowning of your creation. You further ennobled that life when your Son became one with us in his incarnation. Help us to realize the sacredness of human life and to respect it from the moment of conception until the last moment at death. Give us courage to speak with truth and love and with conviction in defense of life. Help us to extend the gentle hand of mercy and forgiveness to those who do not reverence your gift of life. To all, grant pardon for the times we have failed to be grateful for your precious gift of life or to respect it in others. We ask this in Jesus’ Name.


A Pro-Life Prayer

Father we praise you for the work of Your hands. For human life, made in Your image, for the gift of Your Son Who saved our nature, for the Power of Your Spirit, Who fills our hearts, for all You bestow upon us, we praise You, we thank You and we bless You. Help us to protect the life you gave us; support the aged, guide the young, lift up the failing and heal the sick. To all people grant Your truth in its fullness. May those who are yet unborn soon see the light of day and live to give You glory through Christ our Lord. Amen

Prayer to End Abortion

Lord God, I thank you today for the gift of my life,

And for the lives of all my brothers and sisters.

I know there is nothing that destroys more life than abortion,

Yet I rejoice that you have conquered death

by the Resurrection of Your Son.

I am ready to do my part in ending abortion.

Today I commit myself

Never to be silent,

Never to be passive,

Never to be forgetful of the unborn.

I commit myself to be active in the pro-life movement,

And never to stop defending life

Until all my brothers and sisters are protected,

And our nation once again becomes

A nation with liberty and justice

Not just for some, but for all.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen!


St. Gerard Majella

St. Gerard Majella, religious, is the patron of expectant mothers. He was born at Muro, Italy, in 1726 and joined the Redemptorists at the age of 23, becoming a professed lay brother in 1752. He served as sacristan, gardener, porter, infirmarian, and tailor. However, because of his great piety, extraordinary wisdom, and his gift of reading consciences, he was permitted to counsel communities of religious women.

This humble servant of God also had the faculties of levitation and bi-location associated with certain mystics. His charity, obedience, and selfless service as well as his ceaseless mortification for Christ, made him the perfect model of lay brothers. He was afflicted with tuberculosis and died in 1755 at the age of twenty-nine.

This great saint is invoked as a patron of expectant mothers as a result of a miracle affected through his prayers for a woman in labor.


Pro-Life Prayer to St. Gerard

Dear Redemtorist Saint, model Priest and Religious, compassionate toward suffering Mothers, intercede for this expectant Mother. Let her not be selfish like those who are willing to put an end to the life they bear within themselves. Instead let her remain ever conscious that she is privileged to be the instrument through whom God brings another life into the world. Encourage her for the good of her child and the glory of the Lord of life. Amen.


Prayer for Respect for Life

St. Gerard Majella, women the world over have adopted thee as their patron in the joys and fears of childbearing. Today, we invoke thine intercession for the pro-life movement.

Pray that all will look upon human life as a great gift from God to be accepted and loved, not as an unwanted burden to be destroyed. Assist from Heaven the efforts of those on earth who are enlisted in the Christlike crusade of promoting the dignity and value of all human life, particularly the unborn. This we ask through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Respect Life Saints:

St. Gianna

Materials: Book or printed information about St. Gianna, Cards, paper, or coloring pages, writing utensils and coloring supplies

Instructions: Ask the students if they know what a saint is, and to give examples of Saints they know. Ask if saints can be young or old, and other descriptive questions so they know that anyone can be a saint. Remind the group that Saints are people in heaven who are praying for us on earth.  Read aloud the book/information on St. Gianna, if old enough students can break into groups and read the passage on their own or you can ask for volunteers to read sections aloud.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Who was Gianna? (Mother, wife, etc.)
  2. What did St. Gianna do? (Choose to keep her baby even though it was dangerous)
  3. Where did St. Gianna live?
  4. When did St. Gianna live? (1900s)
  5. Why do you think she choose to keep her baby?
  6. Do you know anyone who has had a baby?

Activity: Have children write cards/letters or color picture for new mothers congratulating them to take to local hospitals.

Prayer of Blessed Gianna Molla

Oh Jesus, I promise You to submit myself to all that You permit to befall me; make me know Your Will. My most sweet Jesus, infinitely merciful God, most tender Father of souls, and in a particular way, of the most weak, most miserable, most infirm which You carry with special tenderness between Your divine arms, I come to You to ask You, through the love and merits of Your Sacred Heart, the grace to comprehend and to do always Your Holy Will, the grace to confide in You, the grace to rest securely through time and eternity in Your loving divine arms.  Amen.


Church Teaching & Bishop Statements

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2270, 2271, 227

“Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person, among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life… Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law… Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being.”


Respect Life Month Statement – Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., Chairman

My dear friends in Christ:

Pope Francis has captivated the world with his humility, warmth and compassion for each person. Vivid accounts of his tenderness for “the least of these”—the elderly, the imprisoned, those with disfiguring disabilities, the unborn, and many more—seize our attention. Why?

At the heart of each of these interactions is a truth, which resonates in our hearts, revealing to us something essential to understanding our purpose and ourselves.

We are loved.

In his 2013 Day for Life Greeting, Pope Francis conveyed that “even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.” We see Pope Francis living out the truth of these words in his actions.

We want to be part of a society that makes affirmation and protection of human rights its primary objective and its boast. Yet to women faced with an unexpected pregnancy, abortion is often presented as their only “choice.” A large percentage of children pre-diagnosed as having Down syndrome are never given the chance to live outside their mothers’ wombs. Elderly members of our families fear they will become burdensome and seek physician-assisted suicide. We see these and many more of our brothers and sisters pushed to the periphery.

These tragedies go directly against respect for life, and they represent a direct threat to the entire culture of human rights. Rather than societies of “people living together,” our cities risk becoming societies of people who are marginalized, uprooted and oppressed.

What can be done to prevent this? We must draw close to Jesus in prayer and in the sacraments. We must ask the Lord for the grace to see ourselves and others as he sees us—as masterpieces of his creation. When God created each of us, he did so with precision and purpose, and he looks on each of us with love that cannot be outdone in intensity or tenderness. We must look at ourselves and at others in light of this truth and treat all people with the reverence and respect, which is due.

The Church’s antidote to an individualism, which threatens the respect for human dignity, is community and solidarity. Are we moved by the suffering of those without shelter? Do we seek to alleviate the fear, confusion and panic that women facing unexpected pregnancies may be experiencing? Do our hearts ache for elderly patients in nursing homes who feel abandoned and unwanted, having no one to visit them?


Our mission is to show each person the love of Christ. As uniquely created individuals, we each have unique gifts, which we are called to use to share Christ’s love. We are continually given opportunities to do so in our interactions with the cashier at the grocery store, our spouses, children, friends and even the people we encounter in traffic. Each of these moments is valuable beyond our realization. We may never know how much a simple gesture of compassion may affect someone’s life.


As the 2014 Respect Life Program begins, let us take a moment to reflect on the theme, “Each of Us is a Masterpiece of God’s Creation,” and how this truth affects both our understanding of ourselves and others and the way we live. Pastoral and educational resources of the program can be found at


Although we set aside October to particularly pray for respect for all human life, let us never cease this urgent work. I’m grateful to the many parishes and schools nationwide, which participate in the program during October, Respect Life Month, and throughout the year.


Love and justice must motivate each of us to work for a transformation of our own hearts so that we can transform the world around us. This is the message of Pope Francis. May the Risen Lord put the Gospel of joy in our hearts so that we may bear witness to the greatest love story ever told.


Catholic Stance on Birth Control, Abortion And Assisted Conception Technologies

It is critical that all teachers and catechists understand the Church’s teaching on the beginning of life issues.

Teachers and catechist may choose to go to the following articles on the USCCB website for the specific teachings from the United States Bishops:


Birth Control:

Assisted Conception:

The following paragraphs delineate the Church’s teaching on the issues of birth control, abortion, and assisted conception technologies.  Please read these introductory paragraphs and then go to the web sites listed for the complete article.

Birth Control

In 1968, Pope Paul VI issued his landmark encyclical letter Humanae Vitae (Latin, “Human Life”), which reemphasized the Church’s constant teaching that it is always intrinsically wrong to use contraception to prevent new human beings from coming into existence.

Contraception is “any action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act [sexual intercourse], or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” (Humanae Vitae 14). This includes sterilization, condoms and other barrier methods, spermicides, coitus interruptus (withdrawal method), the Pill, and all other such methods.


The Catholic Church has always condemned abortion as a grave evil. Christian writers from the first-century author of the Didache to Pope John Paul II in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae (“The Gospel of Life”) have maintained that the Bible forbids abortion, just as it forbids murder. This tract will provide some examples of this consistent witness from the writings of the Fathers of the Church.

Assisted Conception

One of the most difficult teachings of the Church to understand is the stance on Church’s opposition to in-vitro fertilization. This teaching is very confusion for many Catholics, even those Catholics with a reflexive disposition to assent to other hard Church teachings.

  1. How can the Church be opposed to the creation of life?
  2. Why would God give us the intelligence to invent IVF, or why would he give a soul to those conceived by it, if it were sinful?

I have a child conceived through IVF and he’s the most wonderful thing in my life. The Church is just wrong here. Comments such as these, wrapped up as they often are with powerful emotions, show how the Church’s prohibition of IVF may be the single hardest teaching for Catholics to understand and accept.



(for grades 7-12 and adults)

For terms related to contraception

For terms related to abortion

For terms related to assisted reproductive technology (ART)



These websites are cited only for the use of their glossaries as reference.  There is no endorsement of other content on these websites.

Source: (

The following activities are designed for K- 5th grade students. Lessons should be altered to fit specific student groups and their abilities.

Lesson Plans/Activities

Grades: Kingergaterten-2nd

Dignity of the human person

Materials: Paper, crayons, pencils

Age-appropriate Bible

Media: Book: Horton Hears A Who, by Dr. Seuss

Goal: To understand that all humans have dignity in the eyes of God


The Dignity of the Human Person:

God made every single one of us. This makes us incredibly special. It doesn’t matter who we are, who our friends are, what we own, or what we look like. What matters is that we are special because we are God’s creations. This means too that we must treat others with great respect and fairness because God made them too.

Bible Verses: Read Psalms 139:13-16

Discus the meaning of this verse.


  1. Who formed us?
  2. How long has God known us?
  3. Does God make all people? Does He love all people?

Read: Horton Hears A Who

This book tells the story of Horton, the kindhearted elephant who rescues the citizens of Whoville. Discuss the humanity and dignity of all people.

Explanation & Discussion: All people, no matter what size or shape are people. All people are created to be temples a soul and the Holy Spirit. Even people who are very sick or very old are temples of the Holy Spirit, which means that God lives in them. Even little babies who are no bigger than the size of the tip of your pencil are temples of the Holy Spirit. We should look for God in everyone no matter how big or small they are. We should treat everyone like they have God inside him or her. We should never hurt or mistreat others because they are temples of God just like we are.

Activity: Have children draw pictures of God forming them or how God dwells in them

Closing Prayer:

Dear God, Thank you for our bodies. Thank you for living in us. Thank you for other people. Help us to remember that you are inside of everyone and help us treat everyone like temples of your Holy Spirit. Amen.


Grades 6-8

Scripture and God Being Against Abortion

Objective: By exploring Scripture, students will understand why abortion is not God’s choice.

Catechism: 356-358, 2259-2262, 2270-2275

Opening Prayer: Our Father, Hail Mary, or Glory Be



  1. Ask the question to students, “Is abortion God’s choice?” Tell students that today we will explore Scriptures that support the reason why our Church teaches that abortion is wrong.
  2. Begin with this story (or another):


This is a true story, but the name of the woman has been changed. It takes place in the late 1960s in a small Southern town Marion is a 15-year-old high school sophomore. She has been dating her boyfriend for a couple of months. They become sexually active, and she finds herself pregnant.


This is considered a scandal in this small Southern town. It is decided that there will be a quick wedding between Marion and the boy. Approaching the time of the hurried wedding, a well-meaning aunt suggests an abortion (at this time they were not legal but still performed). Marion goes through with the abortion.


Many years later, in her thirties, she is expecting her first child. She is having an ultrasound and is able to view her unborn baby in the womb. At that moment she is haunted by the child she aborted so many years ago. She had always been troubled by her decision to have an abortion, but as she viewed her young baby in the ultrasound, she realizes what a very bad decision it had been.

  1. Now we will explore Scriptures that teach why abortion is not God’s choice. Allow time for discussion between each Scripture.
  1. Ask the question to students, “Is abortion God’s choice?”

Tell students that today we will explore Scriptures that support the reason why our Church teaches that abortion is wrong.

  1. “I am now giving you the choice between life and death, between God’s blessing and God’s curse, and I call heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).
  2. “Do not commit murder” (Exodus 20:13).
  3. “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a real blessing” (Psalms 127:3).
  4. “God made everything, and you can no more understand what He does than you understand how new life begins in the womb of a pregnant woman” (Ecclesiastes 11:5).
  5. “Let the children come to me and do not stop them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these (Matthew 19:14).”

Ask the students which Scripture had the most meaning to them.

Closing Payer:

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your infinite wisdom and beautiful teachings found in the Bible. Please give us the strength and powers of the Holy Spirit to obey the commandments and teachings of the Bible, because it is only when we follow Your ways that we are truly at peace with others and ourselves. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.


Grades 6-8

In Pregnancy it is a Fetus or a Baby, not a Glob of Cells

Objective: Students will be able to:

  1. Explain why there is no moral distinction between unborn and born persons.
  1. Explain why it is wrong to kill an unborn child

Materials: Pictures of students at different ages

Media:            (None)

Catechism: 2258, 2270, 2273-2274

Opening Prayer:  Our Father, Hail Mary or Glory Be


Bible Verse: Jeremiah 1:4-5

Teachings: Take your middle three fingers, place them on your wrist and feel your pulse. If you have one, and you’d better, that means that your heart is beating and you are alive. Amazing! That heart of yours has been with you from the moment you were created.

When you were an unborn baby or a fetus, you were all there.  All you did was grow and become the wonderful person you are today.  Some of you probably have even seen pictures of yourself when you were in your mother’s womb.  These ultrasound pictures were captured while you were still growing and waiting to pick a birthday. Often these pictures of you as an unborn baby find their way into your baby books, along with others taken right after you were born.

Some think of a fetus as a mass of cells or a blob of tissue. The more sophisticated science becomes, the more they see that this isn’t true.

It is important to know about the development of the unborn child, because since the 1973 Supreme Court Decision Roe v. Wade, it is legal to kill the unborn child at any time. Our judicial system has ruled that an unborn child can be aborted even in the last trimester.

There is a big gap between conception and birth, a gap where we were growing inside our mother’s wombs.  Once fertilization took place, no one went in and added anything to you.  You were complete, and all you did was grow and develop.

Just stop for a moment and think of how little you were at birth.  It seems incredible that the small baby you were, grew and developed into the person you are today.  I’d like to see you try and fit into a baby outfit you wore back then!

Sadly some unborn babies are never given the opportunity to wear baby clothes because they are killed in an abortion.  These unborn babies are denied the right to life.

Because they are so tiny and defenseless, we must work to see that all human life is respected. Our society is already legally killing unborn babies, and some babies are born and then allowed helped, to die.  This is called infanticide.  Infanticide happens when some judge a handicapped baby as a “burden” or a person not able to lead a life they consider “normal”.

Abortion and infanticide are wrong because they kill defenseless unborn babies or children.

It’s interesting to note that unborn babies in their mother’s wombs have even been given medical treatment.  Doctors have treated unborn babies before they were born.  In 1999, Alex and Julie Armas discovered that their baby had spina bifida during an ultrasound 14 weeks after conception. The Armases searched online for medical remedies and came across a surgical team at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. The team, Dr. Joseph Bruner and Dr. Noel Tulipan, had been developing a technique for correcting certain fetal problems in mid-pregnancy. Their procedure involved temporarily opening the uterus, draining the amniotic fluid, partially extracting and performing surgery on the tiny unborn child, and then restoring the fetus to the uterus back inside the mother.

Samual Armas was a beautiful developing unborn child who was given special help.  He was not a blob of cells or tissues; so don’t let others mask the truth of how beautiful an unborn child is.  Don’t let others tell you that they’re only getting rid of a blob of something when an abortion takes place. You know it is a developing pre-born baby.

Let’s all work together to teach the world that we must respect, protect, and love all babies, born and unborn, from the bottom of our hearts.


  1. What is a fetus?
  2. What is the difference between conception and birth?
  3. Can babies live if they are born before nine months?
  4. Why does a handicapped baby have a right to live?
  5. Is an unborn baby or fetus a part of his/her mother?
  6. What are some things unborn babies can do while in our mother’s womb?
  7. How do we change once we are born?


  1. Download and display picture of Samuel Armas in-utero surgery found at
  2. Define the following terms: infanticide, ultrasound, conception, fertilization, anemic, handicapped, fetus
  3. Invite a newborn-care-unit nurse to talk about the care of premature babies.
  4. Listen to a tape of an unborn baby’s heart beating or use a stethoscope and listen to someone’s heart.

Ask students to bring pictures of themselves at different ages (including ultrasound images).  Have the students arrange them in order by age.  Ask the students if they look the same now as when in the womb, first born, in Kindergarten, etc. Point out that even though we look different now than we did then, we’re still the same person.  Abortion supporters say that human life in its early stages doesn’t look human (i.e. human form) but while the embryo doesn’t look like us now, that is exactly what a human being looks like at the embryonic stage.

  1. Ask a mother to share her experiences of carrying a child in her womb.

Closing prayer:

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I love you very much.  I beg you to spare the life of the unborn children who are scheduled to be aborted today.


YouTube videos for Discussion with High School Students

Please use the following resources with high school students only.  Make sure you, the teacher or catechist, watches the video before you use it with students.  Ask your students’ reactions to the video.

Incredible Real Photography of the journey from a sperm to human baby- Developing in the womb

Fearfully, wonderfully made.  Narrated by a child with Scripture.

One of the best Pro-life speeches EVER! Gianna Jessen abortion survivor (Full video)

Pro-Life Music Videos:–4221.html


Service Projects for Grades 9-12

  1. Volunteer to help at a Pro Life Agency in your community. If there is a young” parents network “in your community, as a class, donate disposable diapers, wipes and other needed baby items.
  1. Contact priests or ministers in your area who have young single mothers in their parishes. Volunteer to babysit for these mothers.
  1. If possible, recruit a young mother to talk to your class about the difficulties of raising a child alone. Keep in mind this should be a pro-life young mother who is choosing to raise her baby.
  1. Pray for the unborn as a class.