Knights of Columbus give $20K to Right to Life of Michigan during annual pro-life dinner

Christopher Kolomjec, state deputy for the Michigan Knights of Columbus, speaks alongside Barbara Listing, president of Right to Life of Michigan during the 45th annual Respect Life Benefit Dinner, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Michigan State Council and the Right to Life of Michigan Educational Fund, on April 19 at the San Marino Club in Troy. (Photos by Daniel Meloy | Detroit Catholic)

Award-winning actress and TV host Joelle Maryn asks audience to be courageous in defending the unborn, exhibit love of Christ

TROY — The Knights of Columbus Michigan State Council gifted Right to Life of Michigan $20,000 at its annual pro-life dinner April 19 at the San Marino Club in Troy.

More than 600 people attended the 45th annual Respect Life Benefit Dinner, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Michigan State Council and the Right to Life of Michigan Educational Fund.

The fundraiser comes at a time when the pro-life movement celebrates the overturning of Roe v. Wade on the federal level but laments the passage of Proposal 3 during the November 2022 elections, which greatly expanded legalized abortion in Michigan.

“I’ve very honored to be with all of you tonight,” said Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit, who gave the invocation and opening remarks for the night. “This is great gathering of all of us who have lost a battle, certainly, the battle to defeat Proposal 3. Perhaps the most important thing I can do today is bear witness to the Resurrection, the day of our Lord’s victory over sin and death. And we can be confident that by persevering in our service of life, that victory will be ours.”

Christopher Kolomjec, state deputy for the Michigan Knights of Columbus, left, is pictured with actress and TV host Joelle Maryn, center, the evening's keynote speaker, and Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, who delivered the evening's prayer.
Christopher Kolomjec, state deputy for the Michigan Knights of Columbus, left, is pictured with actress and TV host Joelle Maryn, center, the evening's keynote speaker, and Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, who delivered the evening's prayer.

Christopher Kolomjec, state deputy for the Michigan Knights of Columbus, spoke about the Knights’ salutation “Viva Jesu,” Latin for “Jesus Lives,” a reminder that for all the struggles the pro-life movement faces today, Jesus has won the victory.

“I was thinking about what kinds of remarks I would make tonight, considering where we are in this battle for life,” Kolomjec said. “We’ve had great victories with the fall of Roe v. Wade, but also great disappointments with Proposal 3 here in Michigan. So great hope and great disappointment. But that is what happens in battles, that is what happens in war, and this is just the start of it.”

Kolomjec invoked the steadfast courage of leaders in battle such as Winston Churchill and George Washington, who stared down defeat against overwhelming odds, as examples the Knights and all pro-lifers face in the battle to build a culture of life.

“May society wake up to see what is occurring in all aspects of life, marriage, children, identity, gender, truth,” Kolomjec said. “Battles like the ones we’re fighting do have an ending, eventually, and we trust it will be in our favor. I like to think we are George Washington in Valley Forge when he was told his army had no ammunition and his officers left. That is where we are; we are in Valley Forge.”

A mother and young baby are pictured at the 45th annual Respect Life Benefit Dinner at the San Marino Club in Troy.
A mother and young baby are pictured at the 45th annual Respect Life Benefit Dinner at the San Marino Club in Troy.

Kolomjec presented Right to Life of Michigan President Barbara Listing with a $20,000 check as a sign of the Knights’ continued support for the pro-life cause.

“Right to Life of Michigan and its local affiliates will never take the Knights of Columbus for granted,” Listing said. “You have been our stalwarts, our friends, our champions, not only at the state level but at the local councils. On behalf of our 85 affiliates across the state, we will never take your local councils for granted.”

Joelle Maryn, an actress, speaker and TV host who has featured in the Christian film “Fully Known” and the EWTN show “Life on the Rock” and will play Mary in the upcoming film “The New Manna,” delivered the keynote address, speaking about how she found God in life through trials and tribulations and throughout her career.

Maryn spoke of the struggles her family faced when her older sister, Maria, was lost in a house fire and the challenges she faced in Hollywood living the life God wants her to live, even when it seemed some of her prayers weren’t answered in the manner she was expecting.

Award-winning actress and television host Joelle Maryn gives the keynote address during the pro-life benefit dinner. Maryn drew parallels between the Gospel and the current fight for life in Michigan, challenging those in attendance to imitate Mary's "yes" in their own lives.
Award-winning actress and television host Joelle Maryn gives the keynote address during the pro-life benefit dinner. Maryn drew parallels between the Gospel and the current fight for life in Michigan, challenging those in attendance to imitate Mary's "yes" in their own lives.

“God’s timing and ways are not our timing and ways,” Maryn said. “We already know the end of the story; we just have to keep our eyes on the light. At the Wedding at Cana, our mother shows us how to present ourselves to the Lord. She doesn’t ask Jesus to fix the problem; she just presents it to the Lord, saying, ‘They’re out of wine.'"

Maryn asked the audience to recall moments in their lives when God’s mercy had a profound impact on their lives. It is that mercy, that sense of justice correcting those who have gone asunder, that the pro-life movement must embrace at it encounters a culture that is increasingly against the pro-life message, Maryn said.

“You are here tonight because you love,” Maryn said. “That is what it means to love, to will the good of others. We need to focus on the good, and ignore the distractions, the doubts, the fears, and the worries. It’s a lie. God has been raised from the dead. Jesus lives to show us death does not have the final say.”

Details of the Michigan March for Life, which will take place Nov. 8 at the Michigan state capitol in Lansing, are pictured on a projector screen.
Details of the Michigan March for Life, which will take place Nov. 8 at the Michigan state capitol in Lansing, are pictured on a projector screen.

After Maryn’s address, the Knights of Columbus encouraged attendees to support Right to Life of Michigan as the organization, in collaboration with the Knights and the Michigan Catholic Conference, seeks to advocate for safety standards and regulations regarding abortion in the state.

The Knights also announced a Michigan March for Life at the state capitol scheduled for Nov. 8 at 11 a.m., as the pro-life cause switches to a state-level issue.

Maryn reflected on Mary’s fiat, her “yes,” in accepting God’s will, as a model for those continuing to advocate for life and to protect the unborn, regardless of the challenges.

“The enemy is terrified of our ‘yes,’” Maryn said. “He is afraid we will find out who we are: children of God — that we will realize the power of the Holy Spirit lives in us and we can actually make a change and continue to fight. He is terrified that if we get off the ground and rise in Christ, what will this world look like? What would the world look like if these 600 people in this room left on fire, ready to set the world on fire? The enemy is afraid you will be pro-life.”



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