The statistical data is alarming, but we were reminded that this is about much more than statistics. This is about people. Our State Auditor, Cynthia Cloud, shared her powerful testimony as to how her family had been impacted just six months ago when her own son committed suicide at the age of seventeen. This put a face to all of the numbers.
Carolyn M. Pepper, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at the University of Wyoming, gave an evidence-based presentation that was well-prepared and well-delivered regarding suicide in the Mountain Division of the United States. One area that spoke directly to me was the matter of religiosity. She said that religiosity can be a significant factor in reducing suicides. Unfortunately, religiosity in Wyoming is relatively low. This was a reminder to me that faith in Christ can literally be a matter of life and death--both now and the hereafter.
One session focused solely on our military veterans. We have many military veterans living in Wyoming and the rate of suicide among that particular group is staggering. I am grateful for all of the people that strive to reach out to our military veterans in a variety of ways. In particular, I want to thank the chaplains who are faithful in their continued outreach to bring the love of God to those who are hurting.
After the symposium concluded I headed directly to a 40 Days for Life kick-off rally also being held in Casper, Wyoming. We held a Life Chain which extended from Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church all the way to the local Planned Parenthood facility about 2,000 feet away. It was impressive to see pro-life people lining the entire street for that distance. We continue to show that life is precious from conception through natural death.
After the Life Chain we enjoyed dinner and then I had the privilege of being the keynote speaker for the evening. I am extremely grateful when I get to address groups who are filled with faith in the risen Christ. Although I was tired at the end of the evening, and still had a three hour drive to return home, it was a day filled with many blessings. I arrived home just before midnight--exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. God continues to move among His people.
This Sunday is "Respect Life Sunday." I have the privilege of preaching the homily at four of the six Masses this weekend at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Cheyenne.
Saturday, October 1,
Sunday, October 2,
Please plan to participate in LifeChain this Sunday at 2:00 P.M. In Cheyenne we will be at Dell Range and Powderhouse giving witness to the sacred value and dignity of each human life from 2:00 to 3:00 P.M. Wherever you live, please get involved. You can see all of the 1,600 locations across the United States at www.lifechain.net.