Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life

Conference on LifeThis past Monday marked the 15th annual Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life, the largest student run pro-life conference in the nation. Having co-directed the Conference both this year and last year, I knew, at least marginally, what to expect from the day in terms of small hiccups and last-minute program changes that even the greatest planning cannot foresee or prevent. However, what managed to awe and inspire me as powerfully as it had done last year, was the overwhelming passion and faith which governed the Conference. My classmate and friend, Evelyn Flashner, and I were the nominal coordinators of the Conference; we had spent the last ten months with our board, sending countless emails, poring over speaker invitations, and attending to what seemed a never-ending number of minute details which demanded our attention. Yet, I say “nominal” because the end result, which we saw last Monday, was an event truly Grace-filled in nature, which so clearly transcended all of our own efforts.

Nothing but a burning conviction and a true call to be a voice for the voiceless could have brought together so many people and such a variety of speakers in defense of life; not to mention the small army of Georgetown student volunteers who came out in full force, foregoing the day off afforded to them by the University for MLK Day. The day passed, as I knew it would, in an utter whirlwind, but I’d learned from last year to pay attention to the snippets of conversation I heard as I walked through Healy. Those words I managed to catch throughout the day gave testament to a miraculous phenomenon: the presence of joy in the face of sorrow. Given that the reason of our coming together this January day was to be witnesses to lives destroyed by abortion, it would have been understandable for the tone to be a somber one. However, although there were moments of sorrow and several tears shed as the speakers addressed the attendees, the most prevalent sentiment was joyful hope.

There are moments when the fight against a culture which devalues and destroys life seems impossible to win. But times like this past week, when we gathered for the Conference, and again two days later when hundreds of thousands of pilgrims marched for life, show us all that the pro-life movement is not going anywhere. The late John Cardinal O’Connor, whom the Conference is named after, said: “It is my very sincere prayer that if I live for a week, if I live for twenty years, my last breath will be in support of the sacredness of every human life.” The legacy of Cardinal O’Connor, which continues to drive and inspire the Conference every year, was one not only of stalwart defense for human life, but also of a constant testament to the joyful nature of life. It was nothing less than an honor and blessing to be involved with the Cardinal O’Connor Conference and to see this very joy manifest itself among the hundreds of students, scholars, clergy, and activists who came together to continue to foster John Cardinal O’Connor’s vision of a culture of life.

Kelly Thomas (new window), SFS ’15