Respect Life: Education

Programs, services and events of the RLA that aim to deepen understanding of the sanctity of human life and the humanity of unborn children, the moral evil of intentionally killing innocent human beings—whether at the beginning of life or at its end—and the mission of the Church to witness to and serve all human life.

RLA Interns Spending the Summer Building Up Culture of Life St. Louis

The RLA is excited to introduce our 2018 interns to the St. Louis Respect Life and Catholic community! Riley Bess, an incoming senior at Truman State University in Kirksville, and Maria Kramer, an incoming sophomore at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, were selected for our 2018 eight-week summer internship program.

Riley (pictured left), a communications major, helps coordinate her school's Student for Life chapter by maintaining their website, helping with baby supply drives for new moms, and attending leadership conferences. She is also very active with her campus Catholic Newman Center. Riley was encouraged to apply by her friend Emily Davenport, a past RLA intern.

Maria (pictured right), a 2017 graduate of St. Joseph's Academy here in St. Louis, also has a heart for service. In high school, she was a retreat leader and volunteered with special needs children. In college, she leads a women's faith group and volunteers with the Bishop Sullivan Center helping low-income students.

As part of their internship, Riley and Maria are:

  • Accompanied the staff to the national Pro-Life Women's Conference for a comprehensive pro-life education and networking experience
  • Helping Mary, our program manager, with several summer and fall events including the Respect Life Convention, Project Rachel retreat, Biking for Babies, and Helpers Mass & Rosary
  • Learning and practicing website, social media marketing, document design, and administrative skills
  • Discovering the rich history of the St. Louis pro-life movement and hearing presentations by local pro-life leaders

Each year, the Respect Life Apostolate invites high school seniors and college students to apply. The internship provides hands-on experience in a professional pro-life office, as well as an opportunity to network with other pro-life leaders, organizations, and ministry partners.

For more information or to apply for the 2019 internship program, click here or email prolife@archstl.org

Two National Pro-Life Events Coming to St. Louis/Kansas City in June!

We're so blessed to have both the Pro-Life Women's Conference and the National Right to Life Convention so close to St. Louis this year. These annual premier pro-life events are ideal for those passionate about building up a Culture of Life!

Pro-Life Women's Conference, June 22-24

"Pro-Life is Pro-Love" is the theme of the third annual women's event, June 22-24 at the St. Charles Convention Center. Abby Johnson's And Then There Were None ministry and the Alice Paul Group are sponsors. Speakers include Abby Johnson, Sr. Veronica Mary (Sisters of Life), Bethany Bomberger (The Radiance Foundation), Serrin Foster (Feminists for Life), and many more!

Click here to register online, a detailed schedule, pricing, lodging and additional information. Or, send an email to info@prolifewomen.com. 

National Right to Life Convention, June 28-30

"Love Them All" is the theme of this annual national pro-life gathering, June 28-30 at the Sheraton Hotel in Overland Park, KS. Network with pro-life individuals and organizations from across the U.S. and learn the latest pro-life strategies, issues, and news from national leaders.

You'll also be inspired by life-changing speakers including Archbishop Joseph Naumann (incoming USCCB Pro-Life Committee Chair), Melissa Ohden (Abortion Survivors Network/Vitae Foundation), Dr. George Delgado (Culture of Life Services), and Wesley Smith, JD (Discovery Institute/Patient Rights Council).

Click here for registration and other details. 

Archdiocese Shows Strong Support for Catholic Education, Respect Life During 2018 Creative Writing Contest

1,058 Catholic Eighth Graders Write About Chastity, Respect Life, 146 Finalists Honored at April 18 Assembly

With approximately 500 people in attendance, the April 18 awards assembly culminated nearly five months of work that went into the 2018 Respect Life Creative Writing Contest. This partnership between the Catholic Education Office, Respect Life Apostolate, and schools and parishes throughout the archdiocese, helped 1,058 eighth graders reflect on the virtue of chastity and respecting each person's fundamental right to life.

These entries represented 61 schools, Parish School of Religion programs, and Catholic home schools. Of these students, 146 were rated as finalists by our judges and invited to the award assembly at the Cardinal Rigali Center.

At the assembly, Archbishop Robert Carlson, Fr. Brian Fallon, Bob Cochran (nephew of Bishop Edward O'Donnell), Zip Rzeppa, Missouri Knights of Columbus leaders and RLA Executive Director Karen Nolkemper helped present the awards and inspire the students. The presence of parents, teachers, principals, priests, and religious further inspired and supported the achievement of these eighth graders.

Each finalist received a certificate of achievement, respect life T-shirt, a teen book on chastity, and the opportunity to be individually recognized, presented, and photographed with Archbishop Carlson.

In addition, 14 of these 146 finalists were selected for either a scholarship or an honorable mention. This year, six one-time, partial scholarships and eight honorable mention prizes were awarded to help 14 students more easily pursue Catholic high school education in 2018-2019.

The recipients of the six $2,000 scholarships are:

  • Bishop Edward J. O'Donnell Scholarship: Emmeline Roseberry (St. Margaret of Scotland Grade School and Parish) will be attending Nerinx Hall
  • Mary Forrestal Hennessey Scholarship: Meghan Meehan (home school, St. Dominic Savio Parish) will be attending Bishop DuBourg High School
  • Mr. & Mrs George Kletzker Scholarships: Leah Anderson (St. Joseph of Imperial Grade School and Parish) will be attending Ursuline Academy, and Olivia Knobbe (St. Joseph-Josephville Grade School and Parish) will be attending St. Dominic High School
  • Knights of Columbus Missouri State Council Scholarship: John Paul Vlahutin (Annunziata Grade School and Holy Trinity Parish) will be attending Chaminade College Preparatory School
  • St. Joseph Evangelization Network Scholarship: Carlotta Croak (Holy Infant Grade School and Parish) will be attending Villa Duchesne 

The recipients of the eight honorable mention awards are:

  • Alexander Rodriguez (Holy Trinity Grade School, Our Lady of the Presentation Parish), will be attending DeSmet Jesuit High School
  • Amy Lien Stukenholtz (Sacred Heart-Valley Park Grade School and Parish), will be attending Cor Jesu Academy
  • Eric Piening (St. Monica Grade School and Parish), will be attending St. Louis University High School
  • Matilda Killeen (St. Margaret of Scotland Grade School and Parish), will be attending Visitation Academy
  • Gabriel Chase Lancia (Holy Cross Academy, Our Lady of Providence Parish), will be attending St. Pius X High School
  • Hannah Lifka (St. Peter Grade School, St. Joseph-Imperial Parish), will be attending Lindbergh High School
  • Hannah King (St. John Paul II Preparatory School, Queen of All Saints Parish) will be continuing her high school education at St. John Paul II
  • Hope Dery (homeschool, St. Joseph-Cottleville Parish), will be attending St. John Paul II Preparatory School 

Click here to read the St. Louis Review article.

Click here to read the winning scholarship entries

"God Led Me Here" Says RLA Volunteer Turned Staff Member Kelly Brown

Anyone who asks our newest bookkeeper/data coordinator Kelly Brown why she decided to work for the RLA will receive this joyful answer. She felt God calling her to apply after learning of the part-time position through her volunteer work as a Respect Life parish coordinator.

"When St. Martin of Tours needed a volunteer pro-life coordinator just last year, I was thrilled that it was open and that I could fill the role. I feel the same way about working professionally for the Respect Life Apostolate, too," Kelly said.

"As a woman and mother, I'm passionate about life, family, and children," she explained. "Serving in a ministry that focuses on life is such a great honor. Life isn't as valued in our society as it should be. I want to help our culture realize that children are precious gifts from God and that we should put them first. What better work is there to do than to protect the lives and future of children?"

Kelly, a St. Louis native, is a convert to Catholicism as is her husband Will who works for the Federal Reserve. They're the proud parents of Charlotte and dedicated to the pro-life cause and their Catholic faith. "It's Will's dream to enter the diaconate one day," Kelly said. "Since the RLA office is right down the hall from the deacon formation director's, I decided to give him a heads up!"

Kelly replaced Marlene Kren, who retired after seven years of service to devote more time to her family: husband Dave and their children and grandchildren. Marlene temporarily left retirement to help Kelly learn the various financial, bookkeeping, donation, and data entry tasks of the RLA.

"We're so blessed by our present and past staff who help our ministry make a seamless transition when these changes occur," said Karen Nolkemper, executive director. "We're so grateful for Marlene's assistance as well as Maureen Kane's. Maureen, who retired last summer, has been an invaluable help to her replacement, Mary Varni, our newest program manager."

RLA Accounts Coordinator Marlene Kren Honored for Seven Years of Service

The Respect Life Apostolate extends best wishes and congratulations to Marlene Kren upon her retirement as our part-time accounts coordinator.

Marlene faithfully helped us with all of our financial, donation and bookkeeping needs, overseeing convention registration and ad sales, and staffing various pro-life events around the archdiocese.


Marlene (third from left) who was also our behind-the-scenes prayer warrior as a daily Mass goer and office decorator extraordinaire. She joined the staff in 2011, serving the needs of the St. Louis Respect Life Movement for seven years. Executive Director Karen Nolkemper and the RLA staff will greatly miss Marlene's prayerful presence, amazing organizational ability, and gentle sense of humor.

She'll continue her pro-life mission as an RLA volunteer and devoting her time to her grandbabies, children, and husband Dave.

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