Notes from NH Pro-Life Seminar

Here are a few quick items from the New Hampshire Knights of Columbus 2019 Pro-Life Seminar, with a tip of my cap to Ron DiStasio and his organizational team.

St. Gianna’s Place

StGiannaBanquetThree years ago, a dedicated group of Granite Staters began raising money and planning for a southern New Hampshire shelter for pregnant women in need of housing and other services. Last month, volunteers worked to renovate the former St. John parish rectory in Hudson, which is being converted to St. Gianna’s Place. Next month, applications for the first two residents will be considered.

Dennis Pedley of the St. Gianna’s board gave us this long-awaited good news. He also reminded us about the benefit banquet for St. Gianna’s, coming up on May 1 at the Executive Court in Manchester. See for more information.

40 Days for Life

Sheila and Lisa of Manchester 40DFL accepted signups for the last two weeks of the current campaign, with all who accept the 40DFL Statement of Peace welcome to participate. Need signs, prayer partners, or more information? Look up your local campaign at

40 Days for Life volunteer
Lisa of 40 Days for Life Manchester NH

East Africa Charitable Projects Fund

Nick Monroe, a Knight from Newport, is one of the leaders of this charitable fund, founded in New Hampshire in 2014. Working with partners in Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya, the fund supports educational, charitable, and faith-based projects. Learn more at

CareNet of Manchester/Nashua Gets a New Name

CareNet has been serving Manchester and Nashua for many years. The ministry’s name is changing: Real Options is the new label, but it’s still a CareNet affiliate. The Manchester office is moving a block away from its longtime location on Bridge Street, to 25 Lowell Street.

Real Options CareNet newsletter

Save the dates for the Real Options Walks for Life: May 4 at Veteran’s Park in Manchester, and May 11 at Greeley Park in Nashua.

Our Place and “Love Prevails”

For more than 30 years, Karen Munsell has been the force behind Catholic Charities’s Our Place, providing help to pregnant and parenting teens and young adults. She reported that the program is going strong in Nashua and Manchester.

She also gave us news about a newly-published book by Jean Bosco Rutagengwa, “Love Prevails.” The author and his wife (who works at Our Place) are refugees from Rwanda, and the book is subtitled “One Couple’s Story of Faith and Survival in the Rwandan Genocide.” As Karen reminded us, “genocide is a life issue.” I’m looking forward to reading the book, published by Orbis and available on Amazon.


This is only a sample of the people providing good information at the seminar. Make a calendar note to look for the 2020 edition next spring.

I got a few minutes of mic time – thank you, Ron – to promote a couple of projects: this blog (which turns seven this month; we need a party!), and something I’m doing with a colleague from Cornerstone Action, Concord 101, a two-hour introduction to New Hampshire government and how citizens can participate most effectively. That initiative will take me to about half a dozen towns over the next few weeks, and I’m looking forward to it.


Attending K of C Seminar? Beware Traffic

A public service announcement for anyone who is planning to attend the Knights of Columbus pro-life seminar in the St. Joseph Cathedral church hall in Manchester tomorrow (Sunday, March 31): allow a little extra time for arrival and parking. Manchester’s St. Patrick’s Day parade and preparations for it will have Elm Street tied up all morning, up until about 2 p.m.

But wait, there’s more: beware the “Shamrock Shuffle,” a 5k road race that precedes the parade at 11:10 a.m. Canal and Elm Streets will both be affected.

Manchester readers, once we all dodge the road closures, I’ll see you at the seminar in the afternoon. Featured speaker is a representative from St. Gianna’s Place, and as always at this annual event, many life-affirming groups will have information tables in the hall.

Last call to register for Manchester pro-life seminar

generic calendarManchester-area pro-lifers, the annual pro-life seminar hosted by the Knights of Columbus is coming up fast. Sunday afternoon, April 17 (yes, the middle of the month is upon us!), the church hall at St. Joseph Cathedral is the place to be. Pre-registration is needed by Wednesday, April 13. You’ll find more information at the Facebook page for this event. I’ve been going to these seminars for several years now, and I always learn something new. It’s great to touch base with local activists, too.

I’ll be there with a Leaven for the Loaf display where you can sign up for the occasional email newsletter, make suggestions for upcoming posts, or just say hello. While I’m there – hint, hint – I’ll be happy to accept sponsorships for my participation in the upcoming Walk for Life to benefit CareNet of Manchester and Nashua. Remember, my goal is $400 to mark four years of blogging. Thank you!

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A reminder of NH’s Safe Haven Law

Phyllis Woods at State House event, Concord (Ellen Kolb photo)

The New Hampshire Knights of Columbus have launched a project to bring higher visibility to New Hampshire’s Safe Haven law, which permits the parent of a newborn child to surrender the child to anyone on duty at a “safe haven”: a hospital, police or fire station, or a church. Most states have some variation of this statute, differing mainly in the age limit for the child and the places that serve as havens.

New Hampshire’s law was passed in 2003. Ten co-sponsors led by then-Rep. Phyllis Woods of Dover shepherded the law through a 327-45 vote in the House followed by passage on a voice vote in the Senate.

As explained on the Baby Safe Haven web site, an online clearinghouse for information about these laws,

The purpose of Safe Haven is to protect unwanted babies from being hurt or killed because they were abandoned. You may have heard tragic stories of babies left in dumpsters or public toilets. The parents who committed these acts may have been under severe emotional distress. The mothers may have hidden their pregnancies, fearful of what would happen if their families found out. Because they were afraid and had nowhere to turn for help, they abandoned their babies. Abandoning a baby puts the child in extreme danger. Too often, it results in the child’s death. It is also illegal, with severe consequences. But with Safe Haven, this tragedy doesn’t ever have to happen again.

Woods spoke about the law at the recent Knights of Columbus Birth-Right dinner in Allenstown, and later posted to Facebook: “Thirteen years after we passed the Baby Safe Haven law in NH, the State Council of the K of C is taking up the mission of publicizing the law with a spokesperson, radio and TV appearances, and signs in Safe Haven locations. We are excited and deeply grateful for their efforts.”

News of the recent deaths of newborns in Virginia and California underscore the fact that even in states with Safe Haven laws, too many people are unaware of the safe-haven option. Thumbs up to the NH K of C for working to change that.

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New approach to health care showcased at Manchester pro-life seminar

Dianne Hunt is a Londonderry, New Hampshire nurse practitioner whose career took a sharp turn after three decades of conventional practice. A Catholic medical professional, she says she became “discontented” with the way Church teaching about the dignity of life was being “held hostage by secular medicine.” One day, she went to a presentation by Paul Carpentier, M.D., a Massachusetts physician certified in NaPro Technology. She also read Humanae Vitae¬†(“a beautiful document …it changed my life”). Hunt found that both science and Church teaching confirmed what she had suspected for a long time: women were being ill-served by pill-centered care.

The result: Humanae Vitae Family Healthcare in Londonderry. Hunt described her new practice recently to an attentive audience at the 2014 pro-life seminar hosted by the New Hampshire Knights of Columbus in Manchester.

Hunt says she is committed to “life-affirming practices and evidence-based medicine” as she works with women of all ages. She is critical of conventional gynecologic care, in which she says “the standard of practice, the gold standard, is treatment with a pill” – pills that treats symptoms without addressing underlying issues. “The drug companies rule. And it’s gotten to where as health care professionals we don’t even want to admit that birth control pills are abortifacient.”


As she has taken on new training and affiliations with NaPro Technology, she says “It’s been a wonderful journey to heal women.” She’s happy to be practicing her profession in a way that benefits her patients and honors her faith at the same time. “Support pro-life providers when you meet them,” she advises. “We need your help. Keep praying for us; I’m just a normal person.” A normal person, that is, who was willing to step out in faith and go back to school at age 50 to chart a new professional course. (More about her practice here.)

Also seen and heard at the seminar, which is an annual event:

  • I had the privilege of speaking to the same audience for a few minutes on my favorite topic, New Hampshire legislation.
  • Covering the same material from a different angle was Bob Dunn, an attorney who represents the Diocese of Manchester as a lobbyist. He made a point of talking about the bill to repeal the death penalty, which is having its Senate hearing in just a few days.
  • Msgr. Anthony Frontiero, rector of St. Joseph Cathedral (where the seminar took place), keynoted the gathering. “We’re in a cauldron of change – the natural result of human creativity. Cultural pluralism is devolving into cultural relativism.” But, not to lose heart: “We should constantly thank God for His power and His presence in our lives. Keep going. Be strong. Let us pray for one another.”
  • I heard for the first time from Fr. Robert Smolley, who had some choice words about recent and still-pending legislation. “No other business has a buffer zone, and let’s face it – Planned Parenthood is a business. If you’re a business, you don’t need a buffer zone. If you’re medical, you deserve to be regulated.” On the death penalty: “This country practices the death penalty every day. A serious talk about the death penalty must include talk about abortion.” On the recent meeting between Pope Francis and President Obama, after which the President professed admiration for the Pontiff: “We’ll see how much he admires him” when it’s time to enforce the Obamacare contraceptive mandate.