Published on: Monday, October 5, 2009
The Office for Marriage, Family and Life, part of the St. Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese have awarded Professor Teresa Collett and students in her International Law and Catholic Social Teaching course with the Champions for Life Award.
“The judges agreed that the efforts of this group needed to be noticed,” said Sharon Wilson, coordinator of the Office for Marriage, Family and Life.
The experimental course was developed as part of the UST Prolife Advocacy Center’s commitment to creating curriculum to advance protection of human life from conception to natural death. Professor Collett observed that “The course grew out of my increasing awareness of an international effort to establish abortion as a basic human right. If that effort is successful, it would make reversing Roe v. Wade legally irrelevant.”
The ten students and Professor Collett traveled to the United Nations Headquarters in New York City in early March to attend the 53rd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. This year’s theme was: “The equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including care-giving in the context of HIV/AIDS.”
Once students arrived in New York, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-Fam) trained them to work with and lobby with representatives from different countries.
Students, along with Professor Collett, were constantly doing factory-style research, sometimes until the early hours of the morning. Even when negotiations were closed to the students, they would be in the hallway researching and drafting memos and cheering on their allies during breaks. The support UST students and others provided helped small countries stand up to large and powerful nations like Australia and the United States.
The Papal Nuncio hosted a lunch for the students and answered the perplexing questions about the role of the Church in the international legal order that Catholics sometimes struggle with, most of which arose from participating in the conference.
After hearing Professor Collett make a presentation about the class at the University Faculty for Life and Learning Conference in June, Victoria Newcome Johnson nominated Professor Collett and her students for the Champions for Life Award.
In her nomination, Johnson stated, “We should celebrate this group of hard working students and their dedicated teacher who provided this amazing opportunity to be champions for life.”
The Archdiocese agreed. A panel of three judges decided that Professor Collett and her students should receive the award for the “School” category. There were four categories for nomination. In all, there were about 85 nominations for the Champions for Life awards. Professor Collett and students from her class will be honored for their achievement at a luncheon on October 19, 2009.