On a recent cold Saturday the Sisters at our Home travelled to the Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit for a warm and welcoming conference on “Life is a Gift” hosted by the Archdiocese of Detroit. The Sisters enjoyed a full day of speakers, discussions and fellowship to learn more about the Church teachings on the sanctity of Life, from conception to the grave.
Three distinguished speakers addressed the hundreds of attendees and spoke about many different aspects and views on Life. The Keynote speaker, Bobby Schindler—brother of Terry Schiavo, spoke on the topic of “Life and Hope in a Culture of Death.” Bobby is the brother of Terry Schiavo, a woman who became famous for a 1998-2005 court case, which was between her legal guardian and her parents over life-prolonging procedures to keep her on life support. Bobby retold his involvement in this case and shared his experience of how his sister died a long and agonizing death due to the prolonged battle to remove life support measures mandated by the State of Florida. This experience had such an impact on Bobby that he left his teaching career and began working full time in the pro-life movement. He related to the audience that his family had created the “Life and Hope Network” after his sister’s death and explained how this organization helps families across the United States fight against the euthanization of a loved one. Bobby explained that the culture of death in America has lead to a “desensitization to the actual killing of a human being.” He has devoted his life to the pro-life movement due to his experience with his Sister’s death.
Two other distinguished speakers at the “Life is a Gift” conference were Bishop Michael Byrnes, auxiliary Bishop of Detroit and Dr. Paul Wright. Bishop Byrnes spoke on “Defending Catholic Care in Health care Reform.” In light of recent health care reform over the last two years, Bishop Byrnes shared the Church’s teaching on health care and related the US Conference of Catholic Bishops thoughts to pending reforms. He spoke on the “virtue of temperance” in taking personal responsibility for one’s health and encouraged people to help support state and federal efforts to promote the dignity of human life.
Dr. Paul Wright, a cardiologist who worked with Mother Teresa, spoke about his personal experience in working with her the last five years of her life. He retold his experience in asking Mother Teresa basic questions about life and his role as a doctor in helping the sick. She told him that “Jesus comes to us in the distressing disguise of the poor” and that we must have compassion for others. Dr. Wright also told how Mother Teresa told him “don’t ever forget who you are touching.” This message resonated with the Little Sisters attending the conference, as they strive daily to recognize Jesus in the elderly Poor they serve.
The “Life is a Gift” conference, with its inspiring speakers, discussion sessions, and good fellowship, was well worth the time and effort of the Little Sisters to attend. Mother Cecilia shared that the five Little Sisters who attended were strengthened in their commitment to the dignity and respect that each of our Residents deserve, even when society considers them a burden. As St. Jeanne Jugan would say:“Never forget that the poor are Our Lord.”