The Life & Justice Office synthesizes issues and outreach in both realms of Respect for Life and Human Rights. All programs, activities, and events reflect the authentic teachings of Sacred Scripture, the Magesterium and Church Tradition under the direction of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Office of Justice, Peace and Human Development and the USCCB Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities.
Our Role and Model
The Life & Justice Office has three key roles:
1. Support Parish Life & Justice (Respect Life and Human Rights) ministries): Life & Justice programs designed and developed at the diocesan level are made available to local parishes, schools and Catholic organizations which in turn customize the programs to meet the particular needs of their respective communities. The success of each program is ensured through the faithful efforts of pastors, teachers, parents, youth, and parish volunteers.
2. Provide guidance and resources: Issues regarding dignity and life of the person affect everyone and the teachings of the Church, although always consistent, sometimes require clarification and confirmation. Personal or professional resources in the form of referrals or documentation can also be requested.
3. Host diocesan-level activities and events: Annual events such as workshops, pilgrimages, conferences and diocesan Masses are a great way to share in the fellowship and in the Life & Justice experiences of all our faithful.
Every Life & Justice Office program, activity, and event must meet all three of the following criteria:
Must directly defend or preserve the sanctity and dignity of human life
Must have a Catholic identity or reflect a core tenet of the Catholic faith
Must provide an opportunity for our faithful to give back using their God-given gifts of time, talent, and treasure.
A key step in developing all of our Life & Justice Office programs is identifying our stakeholders:
All Life & Justice Office programs, activities, and events must be as effective as possible and must meet the needs of everyone who relies on us for education, pastoral care, prayer and worship, and public policy advocacy.
There will always be important requests for critical assistance or for needed activities that do not necessarily meet the criteria above; therefore, these will be referred to the most appropriate Chancery office, community partner or local parish.
There will be some requests for assistance or activities that may meet all of the criteria above, but for any number of reasons the Life & Justice Office is either not the most appropriate Catholic organization to address the need or another organization is already serving the need. The Life & Justice Office will actively work to ensure the need is met in the most effective and most efficient manner.
The Life & Justice Office is truly blessed to be able to focus on so many important and worthwhile activities but there will be times when we are unable to meet every valid request due to either current priorities or a lack of expertise in a specific area. By always working to provide "opportunities for our faithful to give back using their God-given gifts of time, talent, and treasure", we can also ensure all valid requests receive the same level of attention by asking the right volunteers to assist us if and when necessary.
Meet The Team
Director, Life & Justice Office
(816) 756-1850, ext. 544
Deborah Cygan Sheppard, MHA, FACHE, joined the Chancery in October 2022 after having most recently served as Vice President of Women's and Pediatric Services for HCA Midwest Health in the Kansas City Region, where she launched the Maternal-Fetal Health Center, built a maternal transport team, added complex pediatric services, improved the patient experience for expecting mothers, and enhanced the pediatric preparation of all HCA emergency departments and urgent care clinics.
Deb, regarded as a collaborative leader and consensus builder among her colleagues, is an FACHE Fellow and received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the Simon School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis, MO, and her Master of Health Administration from the Washington University School of Medicine.
Deb lives in Lee's Summit, MO. Her son, George, is a college sophomore in Dallas playing baseball. They both enjoy living on the lake, and cooking for friends.
Program Coordinator, Life & Justice Office
(816) 756-1850, ext. 558
Chelsea joined the Chancery in February 2022. She has been in a number of advocate roles on behalf of vulnerable populations, including beginning and end of life care, and she served as Director of Religious Education/Youth Minister at Church of the Good Shepherd in Smithville.
Chelsea earned her M.A. in Theology with a concentration in Bioethics from Holy Apostles College and Seminary. She also has a Certificate in Health Care Ethics from the National Catholic Bioethics Center. Chelsea earned her B.A. in Theology from Rockhurst University.
Chelsea and her husband, Matt, are actively involved in several ministries and have many nephews, nieces, and Godchildren.