FALL RIVER, Mass. — The 79th annual Catholic Appeal, which supports the many agencies assisting those in need throughout the Diocese of Fall River, is approaching its halfway point. As of press time, the Appeal has just passed the $1.6 million mark with one month remaining in the annual campaign, which this year runs through July 31. 

Since it began in 1942, the Catholic Appeal has assisted those in their times of greatest need across the Diocese of Fall River. One of the beneficiaries of funding through the Appeal is the Diocesan Office of Pro-Life. For nearly 30 years, the Office of Pro-Life has been ministering to people of all ages across the Diocese of Fall River, providing opportunities to come together and learn about the value of life from conception to natural death, in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church. 

“We actively reach out to students and adults through a variety of annual events, with a particular mission and focus on educating our youth across the diocese,” said Irina DeLucca, Pro-Life Apostolate and Project Rachel Ministry director. 

The major programs offered through the Office of Pro-Life include the National March for Life, held each year in Washington, D.C. “This was a record year for participation in the March for Life,” said DeLucca. “Last January, we had nearly 300 participants from our diocesan high schools.” 

The office also presents the annual Pro-Life Mass, where the winners of a student essay contest and the diocese’s Pro-Life Person of the Year are announced. Each year, a new theme is selected in November for the Pro-Life essay contest, which is open to all students in our diocesan junior high and high schools. The theme for 2020 is: Christ, Our Hope in Every Season of Life. 

For the past decade, the office has offered high school students the chance to attend Pro-Life Boot Camp, which takes place each July at Stonehill College in Easton. The program provides youth with an opportunity to hear inspiring speakers, experience prayerful witness, and participate in the Sacraments. 

The 2020 Catholic Appeal video series continues this week with a spotlight on the Office of Pro-Life, featuring the experience of Edilia Alves, a staff member at the Pro-Life Boot Camp. “The Pro-Life Boot Camp is a way for youth to come together and learn about the dignity and the respect we should have for life, for all age groups,” said Alves. “What makes my faith come alive is when I see all different age groups come together: when we went to a nursing home and I saw the younger kids interact with the elderly. It was really nice for them to understand, just because they’re not your age doesn’t mean that dignity is not there. It was really nice for them to see that dignity in the elderly, to just sit there and talk to them and have conversations with them, like they would with their peers. My faith comes alive when I see (that).”

The Office of Pro-Life also provides essential services, outreach, and resources to pregnant women and parenting women in need, and works in close partnership with parishes across the Diocese of Fall River. Project Rachel Ministry, offered through the Office of Pro-Life, offers pastoral care to women who have undergone an abortion as well as anyone impacted by abortion. Confidential assistance through Project Rachel is available Monday-Friday through its dedicated, private phone line, 508-997-3300, or by visiting the Pro-Life Apostolate website: http://www.prolifefallriver.org.  

In May, the office hosted online a special Mother’s Day Mass with the Rite of Blessing for a Child in the Womb. Celebrated by Father Richard Wilson,V.G., the Mass was for the intention of all expecting and pregnant mothers, all mothers contemplating abortion, and all mothers impacted in any way by COVID-19. 

While this year has brought a number of unprecedented challenges to people across our diocese and our world, DeLucca encouraged us to remember a work that contains timeless truths for us as Catholics. “This year marks the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s remarkable Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life),” she said. “His writings challenged the world then, and continue to challenge us all, to build a better culture of life.” The essential message of Evangelium Vitae — the incomparable worth of every human person — is perhaps more poignant than it has ever been. 

Anyone seeking support through the Office of Pro-Life is encouraged to reach out to them at 508-675-1311 or by emailing Irina DeLucca at idelucca@dioc-fr.org. You can also follow the office on Facebook at www.facebook.com/prolifeofficefallriver.

A webpage featuring a story and the Office of Pro-Life video can be viewed on the Catholic Appeal website: catholicfoundationsema.org/edilia

Contributions to the Catholic Appeal may be made either through a one-time donation or through monthly, quarterly, or semi-annual pledges. Donations may be mailed directly to the Catholic Foundation office, 450 Highland Avenue, Fall River, Mass., 02720, made online at www.givefrdiocese.org/2020, or dropped off at any parish in the diocese. 

Please contact the Catholic Foundation office at 508-675-1311 with any questions.