December 28, 2016 – Memorial of the Slaughter of Innocents – Abortion and Adoption

(***Note to teachers leading discussion: avoid pressuring students who have been adopted or have family members who have been adopted/in foster care from sharing their story unless they volunteer. Privacy is important to families, especially when it comes to the topic of adoption and foster care***)

The Feast of the Holy Innocents remembers the atrocity by King Herod, fearful of the Christ, ordered all children under the age of two in Bethlehem to be slaughtered. It is fitting then to consider the topic of the dignity of all human life, even the lives that some believe are “unwanted”.

Each life is sacred and each life is wanted by someone, and especially wanted by God. At this same time of the year where we remember the slaughter of innocents, we are reminded of Joseph, Jesus’ adoptive father, who risks everything for love of Jesus, to care for him and Mary, to protect them from Herod during the flight into Egypt.


Opening Prayer

O God, whom the Holy Innocents confessed

and proclaimed on this day,

not by speaking but by dying,

grant, we pray,

that the faith in you which we confess with our lips

may also speak through our manner of life.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

(collect from Feast of the Holy Innocents; Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 2010, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.)



Scripture Reading:

Matthew 2: 13-23


If we are made in the Image of God,when does life begin? At what point is that image impressed upon the human person that demands us to respect that life? The following video offers us an understanding about the beginning of life.

Catechesis videos 



Catechesis video questions:

7-12 grade

  1. What does the Church teach about the origin and dignity of human life?
  2. How can science help us explain to others why abortion is wrong?
  3. Why does the Church teaching reject abortion?
  4. If you discovered a classmate was pregnant, how would you treat them?
  5. Do you think your treatment of them would make them more or less likely to consider an abortion?

Parish Leadership/Committees

  1. How might we, as a society, address the problem of “unwanted” pregnancies?
  2. How can science help us explain to others why abortion is wrong?
  3. What are the reasons people give for having abortions? In what ways can we help resolve those issues in order to help prevent abortions in society?

Faith-sharing/Bible Study

  1. When do you believe life begins? Do you agree or struggle with Catholic beliefs or methods that respect/promote life e.g. adoption rather than contraception? What makes you struggle?
  2. How can science help us explain to others why abortion is wrong?
  3. Search for scripture readings that support Church teaching with regards to abortion.

Witness Video

Danielle’s Story on here unexpected pregnancy and her choice to keep her child.

Hear Melissa’s Story “Behind the Bump”. Melissa is a Loras College Senior and shares her journey about discovering she is pregnant and her choice to offer her child up for adoption. She finds a couple, Travis and Heidi, to adopt. Listen to their stories and how their lives are forever intertwined.

Witness video questions:

7-12 grade

  1. Danielle and Melissa share their personal stories of unexpectedly finding themselves pregnant. If you were in Danielle’s or Melissa’s shoes, how might your own family respond? How might you feel?
  2. Do you know someone who would support you if you became pregnant or your girlfriend became pregnant?
  3. How do Danielle’s and Melissa’s stories offer us insight into God’s plan for us even when we make mistakes?
  4. Share you understanding of adoption with one another, do you know someone who is adopted?

Parish leadership/Committees

  1. Does your parish actively promote adoption as a moral Catholic option for women experiencing unwanted pregnancy?
  2. What is our tone when discussing abortion? Are we condescending? Are we loving? Do we offer a hospitable environment for people to share their struggles, even those who have had an abortion?
  3. How would your parish respond if they discovered a parishioner became pregnant and was considering abortion? How would your parish respond to a teenager becoming pregnant? Are there people in the parish like those that became mentors to Danielle and Melissa to help women?
  4. Does your parish offer support for families like Travis and Heidi, hoping to get pregnant but can’t? How might your parish help connect couples to resources to adopt?

Faithsharing/Bible Study

  1. What would be your reaction if your child or loved one became pregnant while unmarried? Would you respond like Danielle’s father or Melissa’s parents?
  2. Would you ever consider becoming a mentor to those who become pregnant unexpectedly?
  3. Have you considered learning more about adoption and/or foster care?

Action Steps

7-12 grade

  1. If you know of a fellow student who is pregnant offer them encouragement and support. Let them know they are loved by God and by the community around them.
  2. Organize a clothing drive, baby needs drive, or fundraiser that helps to support pregnancy centers or homes for women with children.
  3. Work with your school administrators to develop specific ways in which your school can be sure to be a loving environment in case a student becomes pregnant.

Parish Leadership/Committees

  1. Start a Gabriel Project (program to minister with women who become pregnant) chapter at your parish if one does not already exist. (Contact the Office of Respect Life and Social Justice for more information –
  2. Identify parishioners who could be mentors or support systems to women who become pregnant unexpectedly, are single moms, or teenagers to help them through the pregnancy and beyond.
  3. Develop a parish plan to be involved in helping to serve women who find themselves pregnant and are considering abortion
  4. Communicate to the parish and community that women who have had abortions are welcome and consider starting a program that offers support to women and men who have participated in abortions.
  5. Research the process for adoption and assist families in your parish through the process of adoption. Help your parish become more aware of the need for adoptive and foster parents in your community. (Adoption Service Providers)

Faithsharing/Bible Study

  1. Invite parents and children who have either adopted or been adopted to share with your group what the experience was like and ask how they think you can help them or others.
  2. Find a local pregnancy center and help them with supplies or volunteering on a regular basis.
  3. Start a Gabriel Project ministry at your parish; identifying parishioners and leaders to become mentors for women who are pregnant and need life-affirming support. (For more information contact the Office of Respect Life and Social Justice –

Closing Prayer

O Mary,
bright dawn of the new world,
Mother of the living,
to you do we entrust the cause of life
Look down, O Mother,
upon the vast numbers
of babies not allowed to be born,
of the poor whose lives are made difficult,
of men and women
who are victims of brutal violence,
of the elderly and the sick killed
by indifference or out of misguided mercy.

Grant that all who believe in your Son
may proclaim the Gospel of life
with honesty and love
to the people of our time.

Obtain for them the grace
to accept that Gospel
as a gift ever new,
the joy of celebrating it with gratitude
throughout their lives
and the courage to bear witness to it
resolutely, in order to build,
together with all people of good will,
the civilization of truth and love,
to the praise and glory of God,
the Creator and lover of life.

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 25 March, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, in the year 1995, the seventeenth of my Pontificate.


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