Volunteer has new ideas for pro-life/respect life activities

Jeanne Wonio prays outside the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bettendorf in spring 2009.

By Barb Arland-Fye

Jeanne Wonio, the Davenport Diocese’s pro-life/respect life coordinator, has returned from a national meeting with initiatives for enhancing grassroots efforts to support life from womb to tomb.

In the Davenport Diocese, “the four areas we’re focusing on in the pro-life program are education, prayer and worship, pastoral care and public policy,” said Wonio, a volunteer in the diocese’s Social Action Office.

Her first goal is to create a diocesan pro-life committee and encourage each parish to designate one or two parishioners to serve as representatives.  Other initiatives, all approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, include:

• Offering a “Save One” post-abortion Bible study for men and women.


• Expanding Helpers of God’s Precious Infants throughout the diocese. This program offers sidewalk counseling and a peaceful, prayerful presence outside of abortion clinics. Wonio is actively involved with this program in the Quad-Cities.

• Establishing an Annun­ciation Project, a parish-based, nine-month prayer and education program followed by a baby shower. Participants commit to pray the Spiritual Adoption Prayer by Bishop Fulton Sheen for the period from the Feast of the Annunciation to Christmas.

• Expanding a Theology of the Body program. Sandi Hansen and Pam Carter of Holy Family Parish in Davenport have coordinated this program in their parish, Wonio said.

• Pursuing a White Mass for health care providers, pharmacists, hospice workers and pastoral care personnel to coincide with the Oct. 18 feast day of St. Luke.

• Recruiting and training a volunteer or volunteers to answer the Project Rachel hotline, a ministry offering hope and healing from a past abortion or for a crisis pregnancy. Callers are referred to priests, deacons or pro-life centers or community resources.

Wonio was among 22 diocesan pro-life directors and pro-life/respect life coordinators from across the country who participated earlier this year in the New Director Orientation in Washington, D.C.  Participants discussed the Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities, parish and volunteer activation, public policy efforts and inter-office collaboration, said Tom Grenchik, executive director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The new directors also participated in a retreat that Father J. Brian Bransfield led focusing on his book “The Human Person,” which addresses Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body concepts. Participants also met with staff members of the USCCB’s Pro-Life Secretariat staff and visited the U.S. Capitol where they met with pro-life lobbyists, Wonio said.

In discussions about what dioceses could and should be doing, Wonio said she was pleased to learn that the Davenport Diocese already is engaging in a number of the recommended pro-life activities.

She’s committed to this labor-intensive volunteer work “because I love human life and I think this is a ministry. I’m pretty sure this is the ministry God has given me so I feel fortunate I can work on this.”

Social Action Director Kent Ferris said, “I am indebted to Jeanne for her passion of life issues. In this capacity, she joins a select number of highly committed volunteers who enable the Davenport Diocese’s Social Action Office to meet many of our program responsibilities.

“I am reminded of the words of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin: ‘It is not necessary or possible for every person to engage in each issue, but it is both positive and necessary for the Church as a whole to cultivate a conscious, explicit connection among several issues.’ Jeanne’s coordination will enable more people to be involved in very important issues,” Ferris said.

Individuals interested in volunteering in pro-life activities or the Project Rachel hotline may contact Jeanne Wonio by phone at (563) 355-4188 or by email at Jeanne@gmail.com.

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