The Diocese of Des Moines

Holiday weekend packed with pro-life, social justice events — 

Holiday weekend packed with pro-life, social justice events

Weekend events focus on protecting life and dignity


            The New Year is kicking off with a bang with three major events held in one weekend, with the goal of drawing crowds from all corners of the state.

            The Midwest Mass for Life, the third annual Midwest March for Life and the Iowa Institute of Social Action will be held in the Des Moines metro area the weekend Jan. 17-19.

            With Monday, Jan. 19 being Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it is hoped that people who are off from school or work will come to one or all of the events to worship, network, learn and grow in their faith, said Tom Chapman, executive director of the Iowa Catholic Conference and an organizer of the social action conference.


Midwest Mass for Life

            The weekend begins Saturday, Jan. 17 at 9 a.m. at St. Ambrose Cathedral with the Midwest Mass for Life, organized by Catholic Charities Social Justice Consortium. This year, Dubuque Archbishop Michael Jackels will celebrate the Mass with Des Moines Bishop Richard Pates.

Midwest March for Life

            After Mass, the group is invited to head to the west steps of the Iowa Capitol building, to join others for the third annual Midwest March for Life. The march, organized by Iowa Right to Life, was created to give people who cannot go to the national March for Life in Washington, D.C. an opportunity to publicly witness for life closer to home.

            Following the march, there will be a luncheon at the Iowa Events Center and a number of breakout sessions including a workshop for youth. The luncheon features Josh Brahm, president of the Equal Rights Institute.

Iowa Institute for Social Action      

            On Jan. 18-19, the Iowa Institute for Social Action, sponsored by the Iowa Catholic Conference and the four dioceses of Iowa, holds its 20th annual gathering to help leaders advocate for social justice. The event is at Ss. John and Paul Parish in Altoona.

The keynote speaker on Sunday, Jan. 18 is Dr. Carolyn Woo, president and chief executive officer of Catholic Relief Services, the overseas development agency of the Catholic community in the United States. 

Her address, “Care for Neighbors Integral to Worship, Faith and Witness,” shares the message that worship, faith and witness compel a follower of Christ to serve neighbors.

            On Monday, Jan. 19, Kathie Obradovich, political columnist for the Des Moines Register, will be the main speaker discussing the political landscape in Iowa and Washington, D.C.   

A variety of breakout sessions cover payday lending, poverty, environmental issues, pro-life and immigration.

A youth/young adult track has been added, where principles of economic justice will be discussed through a variety of presentations, creative dialogue and the development of an action plan for an issue of concern.  The young adult keynote speaker is poet, author, spoken-word artist, mother and grandmother Julia Dinsmore, who is most known for her poem “My Name is not ‘Those People.’”

Students can attend the conference for free. The cost is $20 for others. Register at Lodging is available at the Holiday Inn Express in Altoona. A discount will be honored as space is available. Call 515-967-1855 and ask for the Iowa Institute for Social Action rate.