University awards 2020 Evangelium Vitae Award
Observer Staff Report | Monday, October 7, 2019
Notre Dame’s de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture announced in a Sunday news release it will award the 2020 Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae medal to Vicki Thorn. Thorn founded Project Rachel, a post-abortion care program, and is currently executive director of the National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing, the release said.
“Vicki Thorn’s work has been a source of healing for women and men whose lives have been touched by abortion,” University President Fr. John Jenkins said in the release. “I’m grateful to the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture for recognizing Ms. Thorn for her service to the Church and to the work of mercy on behalf of a culture of life.”
Carter Snead, the de Nicola Center’s director, said the University was “pleased” to honor Thorn with the metal.
“Vicki Thorn has dedicated her life to caring for women and men who have been wounded by abortion,” Snead said in the release. “Her work is a living witness to the unconditional love and mercy that lies at the heart of the culture of life.”
Thorn, a grief counselor and spiritual director, founded Project Rachel — a network of clergy, medical and spiritual professionals who provide “one-on-one, confidential post-abortion care” — in 1984 while working for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The program is now overseen by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and has satellites in most dioceses as well as in 25 other countries.
In addition to her work with Project Rachel, Thorn is a lecturer on abortion and author of “Project Rachel, The Face of Compassion,” which was published by the Vatican Publishing House in 2009. She is a member of Pontifical Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, the 2009 recipient of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s People of Life Award and is a corresponding member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, according to the release.
Kevin Rhoades, bishop of the diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, named Thorn as key figure in the right-to-life movement.
“In awarding Vicki Thorn the prestigious Evangelium Vitae Medal, Notre Dame recognizes her important service of the Gospel of life,” Rhoades said in the release. “She has helped thousands of women who have had an abortion to accept St. John Paul II’s invitation in Evangelium Vitae to ‘not give in to discouragement and not lose hope.’ Project Rachel reminds us all that the Gospel of Jesus, the Gospel of life, is also the Gospel of mercy. I offer sincere thanks to Vicki especially for assisting so many women and men to experience God’s love and forgiveness and to become, in the words of St. John Paul II, ‘eloquent defenders of the right to life.’”
The Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae Medal is named after Pope John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical “Evangelium Vitae.” The award is “the nation’s most important lifetime achievement award for heroes of the pro-life movement,” the release said. Past recipients of the award are Mother Agnes Mary Donovan and the Sisters of Life; Congressman Chris Smith, co-chair of the Bipartisan Pro-Life Caucus as well as his wife, Marie Smith, director of the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues; supreme knight Carl Anderson and the Knights of Columbus; the Little Sisters of the Poor; the Jerome Lejeune Foundation and Harvard law professor Mary Ann Glendon.