The annual Mass for Life will be celebrated by Bishop McManus at 10 a.m., Monday, May 2, in St. Paul Cathedral.
Allison LeDoux, director of the diocesan Respect Life Office, said in a press release that all are invited and welcome to attend and join in prayer on this special day. Students from the Catholic schools of the diocese will be among those joining Bishop McManus.
The Mother Teresa Pro-Life Award, the Ruth V. K. Pakaluk Pro-Life Youth Award, and the Gospel of Life Award, given annually to individuals who have shown heroic witness to the intrinsic value of each human life, will be presented at this liturgy.
The two recipients of the Mother Teresa Pro-Life Award for 2016 are Carolyn Brennan and Dr. John Howland.
Carolyn Brennan serves as the chief executive officer of Family Lives, an organization that provides nursing care for very dependent and disabled children in family settings. Mrs. Brennan came to this work through personal experience with her handicapped son, Michael.
Despite the fact that institutionalization was urged for their son, Mrs. Brennan and her husband, Michael, were committed to caring for him at home, and she became a registered nurse in order to provide the special care Michael needed. After Michael’s death, Mrs. Brennan began working to provide home nursing care for children with complex health challenges.
The mission of the organization she founded explicitly upholds the dignity of the human person and the importance of the family in their provision of excellent health care services for the most vulnerable, and is guided by the belief that all people have intrinsic value, regardless of their ability or disability, and each has an important role in the family and community life.
The Brennans are members of St. Mary Parish in Shrewsbury.
Dr. John Howland is a Catholic family physician who practices at St. Luke’s Health Center in Southbridge and has worked tirelessly for many years to defend life.
In addition to the many hours he dedicates to his vocation of caring for his patients, he has also devoted much of his time to the pro-life cause. In 2009, Dr. Howland co-founded the Worcester Guild of the Catholic Medical Association and served as its executive director. During the 2012 Massachusetts ballot referendum on physician-assisted suicide, he was active in helping to educate both medical professionals and the public about the dangers of such a practice and its undermining of the medical profession.
Dr. Howland is the author of the book “Heart Sounds,” sharing the stories of 12 Catholic physicians and their call to live their faith through their love for medicine. He has also authored a number of articles related to medical ethics in prestigious scholarly journals including the Linacre Quarterly and the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, and shares his expertise as a member of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference’s health care subcommittee.
In 2014, he accepted the position of medical director for the St. Anne Free Medical Program at St. Anne Parish in Shrewsbury.
Dr. Howland is a member of St. John Paul II Parish in Southbridge.
The 2015 recipient of the Ruth V.K. Pakaluk Pro-Life Youth Award is Giulia Sena.
Giulia Sena is a senior at St. Peter-Marian Central Catholic High School. Giulia has been an active, dedicated member of SPM’s Guardians for Life club throughout all four years of high school and currently serves as the club’s president. Her creativity and organizational skills have contributed greatly to her leadership of the club involving the group in many pro-life activities including participation in the March for Life, organizing fundraisers, spiritual adoption, and raising awareness of the numerous lives lost to abortion, along with organizing participation in pro-life leadership training events for their members with Students for Life of America.
Giulia and her family are members of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel-St. Ann Parish in Worcester.
Jesuit Father John Gavin is the recipient of this year’s Gospel of Life Award. The Gospel of Life Award was inaugurated by the Diocese of Worcester in 2006 and named with the English title of Saint John Paul II’s great encyclical Evangelium Vitae, which was issued on the Feast of the Annunciation in 1995. The Gospel of Life is known as one of the Church’s most definitive works on the dignity of the human person and on the intrinsic value of each and every human life from conception to natural death.
Father Gavin has been a member of the Society of Jesus since 1991 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2002. He currently serves as a theology professor at the College of the Holy Cross, specializing in Patristics. Father Gavin has demonstrated a particular zeal for the pro-life cause and has fostered this enthusiasm among his students at Holy Cross. Among his many pro-life activities, Father Gavin serves as the faculty moderator for Holy Cross’s Students for Life group. He regularly joins the students in attending the March for Life each January, has been involved with the 40 Days for Life campaign, and is dedicated to the work of Visitation House, a Catholic home for unwed mothers, and often concelebrates Mass for the residents and brings many student volunteers to help out with the home’s mission.
Father Gavin has also shown a great heart for those at the end of life, having been a regular preacher at the Novena to St. Joseph for the Sick and Dying at Christ the King Parish since its inception in 2012.