By JORDAN MCMORROUGH
GOOSE CREEK — About 70 people turned out on a frigid February night for a Respect Life panel presentation at Immaculate Conception Church Feb. 27 to learn about various pro-life and family ministry activities occurring in the Lowcountry.
The four panel members included Lucy Zwarych, executive director of Birthright of Charleston; Joy Yarbrough, executive director of the Lowcountry Crisis Pregnancy Center; Dominican Sister Pat Keating, coordinator of Catholic Charities for the Coastal Deanery; and Father James LeBlanc, pastor of Divine Redeemer Church in Hanahan and director of the diocesan Office of Family Life.
In opening comments, Zwarych, who was holding her infant daughter for part of her talk, said the story of Birthright of Charleston is a tale about the life that God gives.
“It’s a story of love, the love we give to children and the love we receive. We begin as a single tiny cell, a cell of God, and we remind women of the life within them,” she said.
Babies are totally dependent on society to protect and defend them, said Zwarych, adding that all her organization’s volunteers do is for the glory of God.
“The message we send to women is to think about the people who have touched you in your life,” she said. “That is what Birthright is all about. We’re there for you. We’re there for every life that comes along.”
Yarbrough took to the podium to discuss the work of the Lowcountry Crisis Pregnancy Center, which is located in a small shopping center off of Ashley Phosphate Road.
She said the center served 2,000 clients last year, along with an additional 600 women who came seeking items such as cribs and carseats. The center offers prenatal care on site in conjunction with a midwife from the Medical University of South Carolina, one-on-one parenting classes, and a post-abortion support group.
Yarbrough described the facility as an evangelical center, and as such they are able to share the Gospel with their clients, letting them know they are precious to God. She told listeners, “Know that truth is behind you; the Lord is behind you. Pray for boldness to share that truth of life with all those around you.”
Sister Keating talked about her relationship with the parish Respect Life coordinators from the Coastal Deanery, with whom she meets on a regular basis.
“I learn from their witness, their total commitment to the Gospel of life,” she said. “Sometimes that takes them to uncomfortable places. But the witness of what we do has an impact on other people.”
The nun said her job with Catholic Charities and her office location at St. John Church in North Charleston brings her in contact on a day-to-day basis with many people who are economically poor and come seeking assistance.
“Almost 20 percent of families in the United States are food insecure. There is a connection between the consistent ethic of life — protection of the unborn, elderly and frail — and quality of life, having enough money to live on and enough food to eat,” she said.
“We’re all on the same team here. We have to pull together to support one another. The poor is all of our issue. Making sure people have enough to live on is all of our concern. We all want everyone to have life and have it to the full.”
The final presenter, Father LeBlanc, recounted some of the activities that have occurred since he was appointed to the Family Life post by Bishop Robert J. Baker last July.
He said that diocesan marriage guidelines are currently being revised by Msgr. Joseph Roth and should be announced in the near future. In addition, a newsletter compiled by parish Respect Life coordinators in the Piedmont Deanery is now receiving diocesanwide distribution through the monthly Chancery “Caritas” mailing sent to all priests and parish life facilitators.
“I’ll try to be a helper in the dissemination of information about events across the state,” said Father LeBlanc, who explained that his full-time duties at his Hanahan parish require most of his time.
The Family Life Office Web site can be found under Divine Redeemer Parish and should soon have a separate site under the Diocese of Charleston.