Respect Life Office focuses on dignity and life of every human person

October 15, 2013

HOUSTON — The DSF-funded Archdiocesan Office of Respect Life strives to shape the public discussion about God’s gift of life from conception to death. Issues the office addresses include the morality and legality of abortion, euthanasia, suicide, capital punishment, war and stem cell research. 

“As with all other offices in the Church, bringing all those we meet to God is our primary purpose, bringing God’s loving mercy to suffering men and women through several programs is our major pastoral care outreach,” said Dr. Marcella Colbert, director of the Office of Respect Life.

She said that the work of respect life is to protect the lives of everyone, regardless of social position or disability. The office was created after Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion in the U.S.

“The office was put together by the bishops as a response to a change in our society where by law people could have abortions,” she said. “Abortion was no longer a criminal act.”

Colbert said the Church has historically always had a high respect for life, but it was because of this law and many others that followed, that the Church began an office to advocate for the right to life.

“It’s a response to what already happened in our society,” she said.

Colbert explained that, through Baptism, everyone is given the gifts of prophet, priest and king. This means that everyone’s vocation, whether priestly or lay person, is to teach (prophet), to care for (priest) and to bring order to society (king). “That’s the work of the Church for everybody,” she said.

The office provides several programs to assist people in crisis: The Gabriel Project, Project Rachel and Courage.

The Gabriel Project is a parish-based crisis pregnancy intervention group where a parish member, named a Gabriel Angel, takes specific interest in a pregnant mother and assists her in any way necessary. 

Project Rachel is a confidential outreach program for both men and women who have been involved in an abortion decision. “It helps them reconcile with the Church,” Colbert said.

Courage is an organization that supports persons with homosexual inclinations who choose to follow Jesus Christ according to authentic Catholic spiritual and moral teachings. The group focuses on the belief that the dignity and identity of Christian persons is not determined by their sexual orientation but by their relation to Jesus Christ through developing faith, hope and love.

The Office of Respect Life offers presentations and educational programs, such as Life, Justice and Peace, a 10-session program that runs twice a year. There are also a number of parishes that have their own respect life groups which have brochures where all the programs within the Respect Life umbrella, and the Respect Life Office, are available. 

In addition, Colbert’s office puts together a monthly newsletter titled, “Greetings.” Colbert said that, when it comes to respect life issues, the opposition never ceases. 

“The culture and the understanding is very secular, even at times within the Catholic Church,” she said. “People hear what you have to say and it just doesn’t ring a bell with them. That’s why this is a work of evangelization.”

To receive the Office of Respect Life Ministry e-newsletter, send an email to Colbert at For more information about the office, call 713-440-3443.