Right to Life calendars on sale at Masses Oct. 1-2
October is observed as Respect Life month nationwide, and parishes throughout the Archdiocese of New Orleans will participate through the sale of pro-life calendars the weekend of Oct. 1-2.
Jan del Corral, a board member who coordinates the annual New Orleans Right to Life calendar sale in the archdiocese, said the effort began around 1973.
“It has lasted,” del Corral said. “There is always an appeal for the calendar. People buy them to support the pro-life cause. Even though many people have calendars on their Smart phones now, they still like to have a user-friendly copy of a calendar.”
It’s mostly the CYOs but also pro-life groups and Knights of Columbus that sell about 7,000 calendars annually in parishes. Leading the sale of calendars recently has been the St. Matthew the Apostle and St. Benilde CYOs, who order 200 calendars when offered at the annual CYO general membership meeting.
How it started
Robert E. Winn, president of the New Orleans Right to Life Education Foundation, board member of New Orleans Right to Life and treasurer of Louisiana Right to Life, started the calendars in New Orleans.
Around 1970, Winn recalled attending a discussion on abortion with a Catholic nun, a Methodist minister and others at Loyola University New Orleans. That was long before abortion was legalized in the U.S. through the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
After the program, which was not well attended, Winn said one of the moderators called for those who were interested in the pro-life movement. Those individuals would later be sent by the Archdiocese of New Orleans to attend a conference at Macalester College in Minnesota.
It was there that Winn said he first saw pro-life calendars being produced by the Cincinnati Right to Life. Winn also was introduced to and purchased graphic slides, produced by Dr. Jack Willke, the father of the pro-life movement, showing aborted premature babies.
Willke also authored the “Handbook on Abortion” and “Abortion: Questions and Answers,” and was a founding member and president emeritus of the International Right to Life Federation and Life Issues Institute and president of the National Right to Life Committee. (Willke died in 2015 at age 89.)
“I thought people in Louisiana would like to do it,” Winn said about selling the calendars.
Shortly after, Winn and his wife Maria held a dinner party at their home and invited several couples, showing them the Cincinnati calendar and the slides. He said from there, “the first board of New Orleans Right to Life formed.”
The board designed and printed the first 1,000 calendars around 1973 and sold them as appointment-size calendars for $1 each in churches,
Winn recalled. They were black and white, nothing like today’s full-color version.
“We did that for a couple of years,” he said. “Then we printed 2,000 copies because it went so well.”
A significant turn in the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ involvement in Right to Life came the day after the Roe v. Wade decision. Winn said Archbishop Philip Hannan called him into his office to work more closely on the pro-life movement with Emile Comar, who then was director of the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops. The conference, composed of the archbishop of New Orleans and bishops from the other Catholic dioceses in Louisiana, has formulates policies and works with the state Legislature.
“Archbishop Hannan said we would cooperate and work together in the pro-life movement,” Winn said.
Then others got involved with the movement and made suggestions that helped it grow. For example, Winn said, Sharon Rodi, a New Orleans Right to Life board member, proposed the idea to get the CYOs involved to sell the calendars to help spread the message to young people and to help them make a slight profit to support their ministries. From then on, CYOs have been selling the calendars.
“I think it’s been a very effective educational piece,” Winn said about the calendars. “On the back page of the calendar, we used to put questions and answers about abortion and gave a lot of information. I have said many times, even if we lost money, which we don’t, it is worth it because it is not only a handbill that people can look at and throw away. It’s something people can read all year that would give information about New Orleans Right to Life.
The calendars are $5. If they are not sold at Mass, stop by the New Orleans Right to Life office, 7121 Catina St., in Lakeview, to buy one, shop online at http://www.prolifelouisiana.org/chapters/neworleans.html or call 835-6520.