WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston and as chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, presented the People of Life award to three individuals for their lifetime commitment to the pro-life movement at a ceremony in Houston August 9. Those honored were Professor William E. May, Msgr. Philip J. Reilly and Patricia Bainbridge. Over 85 diocesan pro-life directors from across the country attended the private awards dinner during the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities’ annual Diocesan Pro-Life Leadership Conference.
The People of Life Award recognizes those who have answered the call outlined by Pope John Paul II in The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae, 1995) by dedicating themselves to pro-life activities and promoting respect for the dignity of the human person. It is bestowed on occasion to a practicing Catholic in honor of his or her significant contribution in service to the culture of life.
William E. May holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Marquette University and has taught at several Catholic universities. He is currently a senior fellow at the Culture of Life Foundation, and emeritus Michael J. McGivney Professor of Moral Theology at the Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family at the Catholic University of America. He has written over 226 journal articles, has authored, co-authored, or edited 24 books, and is currently working on three more, including the third edition of Catholic Bioethics and the Gift of Human Life. He holds several major awards, including the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal from Pope John Paul II in 1991. He was appointed by the Holy See to serve on several commissions and advisory groups, including the background work on the 2008 document, Dignitas Personae (The Dignity of the Person). Professor May has been married for 52 years, is the father of seven and grandfather of fifteen grandchildren.
Msgr. Philip J. Reilly has devoted most of his 50-year-long priestly ministry to the pro-life cause. He fought the legalization of abortion in New York before the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, helped to organize the first national March for Life in Washington in 1974, and served as a witness to uphold the Hyde Amendment banning federal funding of abortion in most circumstances. In 1989, Monsignor Reilly founded the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, Inc., to focus on prayer efforts and sidewalk counseling outside of abortion clinics. For over twenty years, five days a week, he has counseled and prayed on the streets outside abortion clinics. He continues to serve as executive director of the Helpers and travels internationally to train others how to hold peaceful, loving prayer vigils and to offer constructive assistance to those in crisis both before and after abortion.
Patricia Bainbridge has served the pro-life movement since 1978. She recently retired from her ten-year post as director of the Respect Life Office and Natural Family Planning Coordinator for the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois, where she was also the “Lifelines” columnist for the diocesan paper. For seven years during her service, Bainbridge chaired the Department of Life for the Catholic Conference of Illinois. Prior to her diocesan work, Bainbridge founded the Christian Action Council of Western New York in the eighties, co-founded Life Decisions International, and served on the board of Christian Tapes for the Blind and Disabled, among other civic groups. She is a board member of several pro-life organizations serving the diverse needs of pregnant and post-abortive women, and raising awareness about the dignity of human life; and is chairman of the board of Human Life International. Married for 40 years, she and her husband were received into full communion with the Catholic Church in 2001.
Since the award’s inception three years ago, the Pro-Life Secretariat has honored 11 people with the People of Life Award. In 2007, the recipients were: John Bruchalski, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., founder/director of Divine Mercy Care and Tepeyac Family Center; Molly Kertz, retired director of the Respect Life Office, Archdiocese of St. Louis; and Thomas J. Marzen (awarded posthumously), former director of the National Legal Center for the Medically Dependent and Disabled. The 2008 award recipients were: Carolyn Brown-Davis (awarded posthumously), advocate and organizer for the African American, African and Caribbean communities; Ann Dierks, retired director of the Respect Life Office and director of Project Rachel, Diocese of Little Rock; and Ralph Miech, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Pharmacology, founding member of the Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics, speaker, author, and expert witness on life issues. In 2009, the following honorees received the People of Life Award: Hanna Klaus, M.D., director of the Natural Family Planning Center of Washington, DC, and founder of TeenSTAR Program; Virginia McCaskey, pro-life advocate and witness; and Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel and executive director, National Office ofPost-Abortion Reconciliation & Healing (NOPARH). Earlier this year, two college students were recognized with the first People of Life Student Leader Awards: Thomas Nellson, director of pro-life hospitality, The Catholic University of America; and Lauren Roselli, former president, Students for Life, Catholic University of America.
For more information on the bishops’ People of Life campaign, visit www.usccb.org/prolife/peopleoflife/.