SpeakOut Illinois 2009 drew the largest crowd the statewide pro-life conference has seen in ten years. In the wake of the Obama inauguration, over four hundred pro-lifers gathered at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center to learn how they could be more effective in promoting the sanctity of life. The concurrent TeenSpeak conference saw a huge increase in attendance to over 110 enthusiastic young people.
Mary-Louise Kurey, Respect Life Director for the Archdiocese of Chicago, served as Master of Ceremonies for the day.
Speakers Look to Past and Future
Fr. Thomas Euteneuer opened the program with a prayer and then opened the eyes of the audience with his maps and charts detailing the pervasive influence of international family planning agencies. Fr. Tom made it clear that only a massive prayer effort and educational campaign can protect families and unborn babies in countries that do not yet have abortion. Once abortion is accepted, he said, it is almost impossible to get it out of a country.
Dr. Alveda King, founder and director of King for America, and a pastoral associate with Priests for Life, spoke about her own abortion experience and its impact on her family relationships. Dr. King is active with the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, trying to alert other women to the negative effects of the abortion decision.
Dr. King also spoke of her uncle Martin Luther King, Jr.’s commitment to life and said that Planned Parenthood lied to him when they presented him with the Margaret Sanger Award, prior to legalized abortion. She assured the audience that he would certainly be pro-life had he lived to be involved in this fight.
Rev. Rick Ligthart, executive director of PASS Pregnancy Care Center, offered the lunch invocation. After lunch, Mary Anne Hackett, past president of Illinois Right to Life, presented the Henry Hyde Life Leadership Award to Phyllis Schlafly for her lifetime of commitment to safeguarding the family. Schlafly gave a fascinating address, recounting the initial struggles to get a pro-life plank in the Republican national platform. She said it became easier with each election.
SpeakOut Collection Funds Billboards, Radio
The third annual Passport for Life drawing added an element of fun to the task of visiting the display booths for each sponsor of SpeakOut Illinois. Lucky winners headed home with various gifts, ranging from books and DVDs to pictures, stained glass panels and collector plates.
Continuing a practice that SpeakOut has had for the past several years, a collection was taken up to post pro-life billboards in Illinois. The collection amounted to over $4,000. Pro-Life Across America—the “Billboard People”—received $3,000, and the balance was used to cover the cost of radio alerts on HB2354, the “Illinois FOCA” bill.
The day ended with a prayer by Rev. Sam Lyons of Ashburn Baptist Church, and a memorial service for the unborn. Those in attendance were asked to make a commitment to do more than they are currently doing to promote the value of life and build a Culture of Life.