Cornerstone Conference draws 900 Catholics with a passion for life issues

  • Written by Susan Gilmore
  • Published in Local
Tim Butler, a member of St. Charles Borromeo Parish’s Respect Life Committee, explains "spiritual adoption" to a Cornerstone Catholic Conference attendee at the Oct. 24-25 gathering in Tacoma. Photo: Robin Gunderson Tim Butler, a member of St. Charles Borromeo Parish’s Respect Life Committee, explains "spiritual adoption" to a Cornerstone Catholic Conference attendee at the Oct. 24-25 gathering in Tacoma. Photo: Robin Gunderson

TACOMA – With a prayer for victims of the Marysville school shooting, Archbishop J. Peter Sartain opened the Cornerstone Catholic Conference, saying it was a “way to come together as Catholics to thank God for the gift of life.”

The Oct. 24-25 statewide conference was sponsored by the state’s bishops to gather Catholics who advocate for all life issues, whether they support the pro-life movement or work on issues of peace and justice.

“It’s our responsibility to care for all human life, born and unborn,” Archbishop Sartain said. “Jesus sends us forth as his emissaries of life.”

Many of those at the conference at the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center were there for one reason: to stop abortions.

“We figured we’d come and help out as much as we can,” said Stephen Wandor, who attended the conference with Jen Gallic. Both are graduates of the University of Notre Dame, where they were involved in the pro-life movement.

Serrin Foster talks to conference attendeesFeminists for Life president Serrin Foster talks to Cornerstone Catholic Conference attendees. Foster was a keynote speaker at the gathering. Photo: Robin Gunderson


They particularly wanted to hear the talk of Serrin Foster, who has led Feminists for Life of America since 1994. Her group has advocated for benefits for poor and pregnant women and has worked to prevent abortions. “We need to stand in solidarity with women forced into abortion,” Foster told her audience. “The threat to withhold child support pushes women to abortion. We are here because we want to right the wrong; let us free women from abortion now.”

Art Boyle spends his days in front of a Tacoma Planned Parenthood clinic, handing out information and trying to convince women not to have abortions. “Absolutely we’ve saved children,” the Tacoma resident said. “They’ve brought them back to us, these kids that would have been aborted. These are women who need help.”

Jeanette Burton, of St. Patrick Parish in Tacoma, said her mother was unmarried but chose not to have an abortion. “I am so grateful that my mother allowed me to be born,” Burton said.

With a variety of speakers, the conference focused on “the whole span of life and human dignity,” said Pam Gunderson, who helped organize the event. “I’m thrilled the bishops saw a need for this and the people responded to the overture.”

‘Prepares’ gets ready

A new initiative to help women who choose to have their babies was announced by Yakima Bishop Joseph Tyson during the Oct. 24-25 Cornerstone Catholic Conference in Tacoma.

Prepares, which stands for Pregnancy and Parenting Support, will help meet the needs of women and children up to age 5.

“We want to make sure no child, born or unborn, is ever abandoned or alone,” Bishop Tyson said. “Every mother will have caring people around her walking the journey. The father will get mentoring and support, regardless of his documentation or employment status.”

Still evolving, the program will set up a common referral system for everything from child care and health care to emotional support. It will include pregnancy testing, volunteer mentoring for mothers and fathers, support groups for parents and their families, referral for urgent needs and adoption support.

Program coordinator Lisa Green said she hopes the program will be ready to help families by July 2015.