New Pro-Life director pledges to unite groups

February 21, 2016

HOUSTON — The new director of the Archdiocese’s Pro-Life Activities Office pledged to bring groups outside and within the Church together to tackle pro-life issues from abortion to euthanasia, ensuring everyone is heard while uniting them behind common goals.

“I see my role as making sure everyone is on same page,” said Julie Fritsch, who took the position, which has been vacant since Dr. Marcella Colbert retired in June 2015. “The Cardinal has a vision, and we have to make sure we are on the same page as the Cardinal and the Magisterium, of course.” 

While the fight to end abortion is the most high profile pro-life issue, especially for groups and individuals who attended the Feb. 6 reception for Fritsch, Fritsch said she’ll be dealing with other challenges to the pro-life movement, such as capital punishment, the care of the dying and the growing acceptance of euthanasia. She said the Archdiocese is doing a great job engaging people, but she said there’s room for more people, especially young people, to become involved in these complex issues.

“Because people see these as more about self determination and personal freedom, they don’t think it’s as important,” Fritsch said. “But all these issues are about respecting the dignity of the person.”

Fritsch, 38, was hired after a nationwide search for a qualified individual to head up what was previously called the Respect Life Office. Citing her education, service, experience as an attorney and work at Catholic Charities in Tulsa, Okla., Daniel Cardinal DiNardo said Fritsch has the credentials and experience to be an effective leader on pro-life issues and bring groups together.

“She has a real desire and passion to be a very good resource and to make a very good director,” Cardinal DiNardo told a crowd of about 60 people. “I’m secure in how well she’s going to do.”

Fritsch’s interest in the pro-life movement began as an adolescent. Back then, she said it was the singular issue of abortion. But as she went through college — she earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Notre Dame — and on to a career and got more involved with the Church, she became aware of the other pro-life issues. She said not only are these issues about protecting the vulnerable, from the unborn to the sick and dying, but it’s also about changing social structures, including the legal system, which she said is stacked against the poor, and strengthening families so that children have better outcomes.

A former attorney, Fritsch brings a wealth of experience and service to her new role. She comes from Catholic Charities Tulsa, where she worked for almost two years as a residential program coordinator, helping women in crisis pregnancies, coping with abortion, adoption, poverty and domestic violence. Prior to that, Fritsch had a decade-long career as an attorney in New Mexico. She started out clerking for a federal judge after graduating from Vanderbilt Law School in 2003. 

She went on to work for a couple of law firms and ended up as vice president of legislative affairs for a business association in Albuquerque. Meanwhile, Fritsch built up an impressive resume of service and leadership, centered on social justice and the ethics and morality of right-to-life issues, through the Church and a number of non-profit organizations. Currently, she is studying for a master’s degree in theology with a bioethics concentration.

Fritsch said it was her service work that brought her to the realization she wanted to leave the legal profession and do something else. 
“It was really where my interests lie — working for the Church and nonprofits,” Fritsch said. “I felt more energized.”