(From left to right: Bishop James Johnston, Jr., Kent & Sandra Scheuler, Archbishop Joseph Naumann, Vitae President Debbie Stokes, and Vitae Founder Carl Landwehr.)

After 26 years of working to change the culture to one that advocates life, the Vitae Foundation announced Friday night that it needs to do more.  As a result, next year in the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kan.,Vitae will launch its first-ever school curriculum based on its extensive research.  This curriculum will be known as the Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann Curriculum to Advance a Culture of Life.

“To move us closer to achieving Archbishop Naumann’s vision, we want to combat that Culture of Death by equipping our children with tools to address the pro-death rhetoric that they encounter every day,” Vitae President Debbie Stokes said to approximately 600 gathered at the Vitae Foundation’s Kansas City Pro-Life Event Friday night in Overland Park, Kan.

Stokes told the Vitae supporters that the Culture of Death certainly targets our children.

“Planned Parenthood creates brand awareness in elementary schools.  It has embedded itself into the public school health curriculums, infiltrated our colleges and universities, heavily influenced the entertainment industry, and even uses groups like the Girl Scouts to promote its agenda,” Stokes stated.

The research-based curriculum will break down Vitae’s research findings into age appropriate lessons that will complement some of the existing Theology of the Body programs.

“The goal is to empower our youth to be messengers for a Culture of Life.  To give them the tools to communicate their convictions in a way that will move others—saving lives and families—instead of polarizing them further,” Stokes explained.

Vitae honored Archbishop Naumann because of his vision that he shared with Vitae Founder Carl Landwehr over 30 years ago, and a vision that he still works toward today, even as he embarks on a new role later this year as Chair of the U.S. Catholic Bishops Pro-Life Committee.  It’s the vision of a culture that respects every life God sends into the world.

Archbishop Naumann was humbled by the honor.

“No way did I ever think a curriculum would be named after me,” he said with slight disbelief.  “My mother would have enjoyed this.”

The Archbishop reflected on the history that brought Vitae into being, because a few people dared to dream that pro-life messages could be aired on television and radio.  It was 1989, and Missouri was embroiled in a fight to put abortion into its Constitution.  That fight would be overturned by a court decision, but the wheels were starting to turn for a new direction in the pro-life movement.

“We dreamed about a pro-life educational effort like none that had ever been attempted before,” the Archbishop noted.  “It would be an educational program providing research and developing messages that would not just make people who were already pro-life feel good but would prompt to action those who were vulnerable to the pro-choice rhetoric, even though their actual core beliefs were more pro-life than pro-abortion.”

That early group of leaders dreamed about television and radio messages that could reach people they could never reach in churches and would reinforce the beliefs of those who were already pro-life.  They dreamed about an educational campaign that would be not just push people in the pro-life direction at election time but would continue for years to help develop a growing pro-life base.  It would be inoculated against the virus of disinformation and propaganda of pro-abortion proponents.

“Carl Landwehr was one of those dreamers.  He and a band of other pro-life leaders—including some in this room tonight, the Dunn’s and the Meiners’ families, who were great leaders in this part of the state—devoted their energy, talents and resources to make this dream a reality.  There were many obstacles to overcome, but with God’s blessing and hard work by Carl and his collaborators, Vitae has exceeded way beyond certainly what I could have imagined it could be,” Archbishop stated.

At some point, Archbishop noted, Vitae realized that by collaborating with pregnancy centers they could really save lives while still educating people about the culture of life.

Vitae Senior Market Director Anne Carmichael shared that “in just the first seven months of this year our ads have connected 28,979 abortion-minded pregnant women in need to life-affirming Pregnancy Help Centers!”

The Archbishop said that as we watch the Kavanaugh hearings and “listen to the rhetoric and the shrill voices on the other side melting down with the thought that Roe could be vulnerable in this time, Vitae’s efforts and work are more necessary than ever.”