Catholic awards honoring a lifetime of pro-life commitment have gone to a psychotherapist who was an early discoverer of post-abortion trauma and a religious sister who has ministered to abortion-vulnerable women through her social services work.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, presented the People of Life Awards to the year 2012 honorees on Aug. 6 at the annual Diocesan Pro-Life Leadership Conference in Anaheim, Calif.
Honoree Vincent Rue, Ph.D., has been a practicing psychotherapist and traumatologist for 36 years. He was the first mental health professional to provide clinical evidence of post-abortion trauma in women. He was also the first to describe the impact of abortion on fathers of aborted children.
He co-founded the Institute for Pregnancy Loss to treat men and woman harmed by abortion and has served as a consultant for legislation and litigation.
Social Service Sister Paula Vandegaer is a licensed clinical social worker who has worked to build Christ-focused support communities for women who are at risk of having an abortion and their families. She has helped create hundreds of pregnancy assistance centers since 1967.
She is the founder and program director with International Life Services, a network of 44 pregnancy centers that helps 28,000 women each year.
In 1997, she founded Volunteers for Life. Its members live in community and dedicate themselves to service agencies in the Los Angeles area.
Sr. Vandegaer authored the first textbook for pro-life counselors, “Introduction to Pregnancy Counseling.”
Since 2007, the bishops’ Pro-Life Secretariat has honored 19 pro-life leaders.