By Jennifer Mauro | Managing Editor
Rachel Hendricks has always believed life begins at conception. But it wasn’t until she began to take notice of legislation moving through the state Legislature on embryonic stem cell research nearly 15 years ago that she felt called to make her voice heard.
She began calling lawmakers who represented the Monmouth County area, organized an information session on the subject in her parish, St. Denis, Manasquan, and got involved in the pro-life organization New Jersey Right to Life.
“There’s a lot of education that needs to be done,” Hendricks said, “and more information that needs to be put out [into society].”
Education and awareness are some of Hendricks’ goals as the new diocesan coordinator of Respect Life Ministries. “I hope I can use my education and experience to help in this ministry,” she said.
Hendricks, who holds a bachelor of science degree from the University of Notre Dame, was the first president of Mary’s Child Pro-Life Ministry, which represents the parishes of St. Denis, St. Catharine-St. Margaret, Spring Lake; St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Avon-by-the-Sea; St. Mark, Sea Girt; St. Rose, Belmar, and Holy Innocents, Neptune.
“Rachel Hendricks is a true defender of the dignity of all human life,” said Deanna Sass, director of the diocesan Department of Pastoral Care. “We could not have a better coordinator.”
Hendricks, an alumnae of St. John Vianney High School, Holmdel, is a mother of five, ages 10 to 18, to whom she also instills the pro-life message. Her oldest and youngest daughters have raised money for organizations that support families and pregnant mothers. Hendricks’ oldest daughter also traveled with her last year for the March for Life in Washington. She hopes the Respect Life message can be strengthened in Catholic schools.
“There are so many voices telling them [children] what to believe, and with so few kids and adults not taking the time to read about the issues, it can be easily confusing,” she said.
To that end, broadening the pro-life message in different areas of academics is among her top priorities. So is meeting with Respect Life chaplains, spiritual advisers and parish representatives in each county of the Diocese.
“I’m hoping to help in any way I can,” she said. “My faith is the foundation of why I want to be so involved. Our faith gives such clarity to many different issues – it’s always there to turn to for truth.”
For information on Respect Life Ministries in the Diocese, contact Hendricks at 609-403-7192 or firstname.lastname@example.org.