Catholic Bishops Present Pro-Life Awards to Three Advocates

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 9, 2011   |   4:30PM   |   Washington, DC

The nation’s Catholic bishops presented awards to three pro-life advocates:  a doctor, a diocesan leader and an international pro-life advocate who presents the pro-life message to Hispanic nations.

The honorees include Joanne Angelo, MD, Mimi Eckstein and Magaly Llaguno. The three received the awards during an August 8 ceremony at the annual Diocesan Pro-Life Leadership Conference in Atlanta. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), presented the awards and more than 100 diocesan, state and national Catholic pro-life leaders from across the country attended the private awards dinner at the conference.

The People of Life Award recognizes those who have answered the call outlined by Pope John Paul II in The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae, 1995) by dedicating themselves to pro-life activities and promoting respect for the dignity of the human person. It is bestowed on a practicing Catholic in honor of his or her significant contributions in service to the culture of life.

As a physician, researcher and mentor, Dr. Angelo has been an advocate for post-abortion healing and a defender of the elderly and dying. Trained at Tufts University School of Medicine, Angelo has published extensively throughout her clinical practice in child, adolescent and adult psychiatry. She has taught at Cornell, Harvard and Tufts medical schools and served as an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Tufts since 1974. Angelo has held leadership positions in several medical societies, as well as in University Faculty for Life and Women Affirming Life and, for 14 years, she has served as a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Mimi Eckstein currently directs the Gabriel Project of the Archdiocese of Denver, where she served for 20 years as the director of the Respect Life office. The Gabriel Project is a parish-based outreach program that pairs pregnant women in need with parishioners who accompany them throughout their pregnancy and beyond. During her tenure as director, she also introduced Project Rachel, the Church’s post-abortion ministry for women and men seeking healing and reconciliation.

During her tenure, she earned a master’s degree in psychology from the Denver Seminary, strengthened the network of parish respect life representatives, and instituted key pastoral, educational and liturgical initiatives.

Magaly Llaguno is an international advocate for life who has been active in pro-life work since 1972, when she founded Comite Pro Vida Internacional, which later became Vida Humana Internacional, the Hispanic division of Human Life International.

Llaguno has lead VHI in bringing the pro-life message to countless Hispanics worldwide through international conferences, printed materials, TV, Internet and a live radio program on EWTN. VHI provides assistance, training and educational materials to its 26 affiliated organizations in 18 countries and information to over 200 pro-life collaborators throughout Latin America. Llaguno’s writings have appeared in major publications, and she has been on both radio and TV.

Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro-Carambula, interim president of HLI, applauded the bishops for awarding Llaguno.

“On behalf of the board, the staff, and all of HLI’s pro-life missionaries around the world, I congratulate Magaly on a richly deserved honor for her tireless work on behalf of the most vulnerable members of Hispanic societies around the world,” he told LifeNews.

“We are also very indebted to Cardinal DiNardo, Thomas Grenchik, all at the USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities for sharing our gratitude for Magaly and her and VHI’s accomplishments, as this award sheds light on the continuing and desperate situation of the unborn, the elderly and severely disabled, and all those whom society seems to increasingly find unworthy of the lives they already enjoy. Magaly’s and our work is far from done, but moments like this allow us to step back and take stock of the gifts we have been given in her and in all of our pro-life colleagues and missionaries,” he added.

This is the second consecutive year that someone associated with HLI has won the prestigious “People of Life” award from the USCCB: Last year HLI Board Chairman Patricia Bainbridge was also honored for her long and accomplished record of service to the pro-life movement.

Since the People of Life Award’s inception four years ago, the Pro-Life Secretariat has honored 14 leaders.

In 2007, the recipients were: John Bruchalski, MD, FACOG, founder/director of Divine Mercy Care and Tepeyac Family Center; Molly Kertz, retired director of the Respect Life Office, Archdiocese of St. Louis; and Thomas J. Marzen (awarded posthumously), former director of the National Legal Center for the Medically Dependent and Disabled.

The 2008 recipients were: Carolyn Brown-Davis (awarded posthumously), advocate for the African-American, African and Caribbean communities; Ann Dierks, retired director of the Respect Life Office and director of Project Rachel, Diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas; and Ralph Miech, MD, PhD, professor of pharmacology, founding member of the Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics (CARE), and expert witness on life issues.

The 2009 recipients were Hanna Klaus, MD, founder of TeenSTAR Program, and director of the Natural Family Planning Center of Washington; Virginia McCaskey, pro-life advocate and witness; and Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel and executive director, National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation & Healing (NOPARH). The 2010 recipients were: Patricia Bainbridge, former director of the Respect Life Office in the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois; William E. May, PhD, senior fellow at the Culture of Life Foundation; and Msgr. Philip J. Reilly, founder of the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants.

Two students from The Catholic University of America were recognized in early 2010 with the first People of Life Student Leader Awards: Thomas Nellson, director of pro-life hospitality; and Lauren Roselli, former president, Students for Life.