Skagit Valley parishes highlight life issues with October speaker series

  • Written by Nathan Whalen
  • Published in Local
Photo: Courtesy USCCB Photo: Courtesy USCCB

MOUNT VERNON – Assisted suicide. The death penalty. Abortion. During Respect Life Month, the Skagit Valley parishes’ Respect Life Committee is hosting a Monday night speaker series touching on key life issues for Catholics.

The series, which is open to the public, begins October 7 with Frances Mack, a member of St. Mary Parish in Marysville, speaking about her “transformational” healing experience through Project Rachel, the U.S. Catholic Church’s ministry to those who have been involved in abortion.

Mack said she battled substance abuse and an eating disorder after having an abortion decades ago. Today, she is actively involved with Project Rachel and Silent No More, which seeks to shed light on and heal the pain of abortion.

“If there is a man or woman who can find healing through my story, then praise be God,” Mack said.

Father Tom McMichael, pastor of five Catholic churches in the Skagit Valley, said he appointed the Respect Life Committee “to help me keep life issues on the front burner.” The committee draws members from four  parishes — Immaculate Conception in Mount Vernon, St. Charles in Burlington, Sacred Heart in La Conner and Immaculate Heart of Mary in Sedro-Woolley — as well as St. Catherine Mission in Concrete.

The speaker series, which is in its second year, runs four consecutive Mondays at Immaculate Conception Church in Mount Vernon (see box).

The second evening of the series, October 14, will focus on the importance of Catholics being involved in the democratic process. Mark Miloscia, executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington and a former state senator, will talk about “Life issues in Olympia,” and how Catholics are called to take action. His presentation will include discussion of “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” a USCCB document that provides guidance for Catholics in exercising their rights and duties as participants in democracy.

Miloscia, a member of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Federal Way, said as Catholics, “we must unify and proclaim the gospel.”

Other speakers slated include Sacred Heart parishioner Richard Doerflinger, who will talk October 21 about “Assisted suicide: ethics, law and the church.” Doerflinger worked for 36 years at the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“There are serious dangers to suicide as a whole,” Doerflinger said. “It’s insidious in terms of its overall effects on other people.” He also will talk about how assisted suicide laws “really work.”

Jim Thomas, senior policy analyst for the Washington State Catholic Conference, will speak October 28 about “Why is the death penalty a life issue?” Touching upon the teachings of Pope Francis and Pope John Paul II, Thomas will emphasize the life and dignity of the human person and the importance of leaving open the opportunity to seek forgiveness and the power of God’s love and mercy. He will also talk about the number of people sentenced to death and later exonerated.

“We have a very imperfect system of assessing the guilt or innocence of a person,” Thomas said.

Respect life speaker series

Life issues will be highlighted during an October speaker series sponsored by the Respect Life Committee of five Catholic communities in Skagit County. The presentations are open to the public.

The scheduled topics and speakers are:

October 7 — “Healing from abortion,” Frances Mack

October 14 — “Life issues in Olympia,” Mark Miloscia

October 21 — “Assisted suicide: Ethics, law and the church,” Richard Doerflinger

October 28 — “Why the death penalty is a life issue,” Jim Thomas

The presentations are scheduled from 7-8:30 p.m. in the narthex at Immaculate Conception Church, 400 N. 15th St., Mount Vernon.