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Respect Life Convocation Focuses on Persons with Disabilities Print E-mail

Keynoter Wesley Smith, Esq. To Speak on “Bioethics: Creating a Disposable Caste?”


ROCKVILLE CENTRE, NEW YORK, November 10, 2005 - The annual Respect Life Convocation sponsored by the Diocese of Rockville Centre to be held on Saturday, November 19 will focus on “Persons with Disabilities and the Gospel of Life.” This year’s gathering will examine the impact of bioethics on the physically disabled in society from both secular and religious viewpoints.

The convocation will open with a Mass celebrated by Bishop William Murphy, Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre at 9:00 a.m. in St. Agnes Cathedral. The convocation will continue in the St. Agnes Parish Center.

Attorney Wesley J. Smith, an expert on bioethics who is the author of Consumer’s Guide to a Brave New World will deliver the keynote address on “Bioethics: Creating a Disposable Caste?”

Mr. Smith, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, is an attorney and consultant for the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide and a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture. He is an international lecturer and public speaker, appearing at political, university, medical, legal, bioethics, and community gatherings across the United States, Canada, Europe, South Africa and Australia.

Other speakers include:

  • Reverend Edward Hemsworth, O.P., former director of The Blessed Margaret of Castello Shrine in Kentucky. Ordained a priest of the Dominican order in 2004, Father Hemsworth was previously a public accountant for Coopers & Lybrand and an internal auditor for Mass Mutual Insurance Company. Father Hemsworth will discuss the Gospel of Life and Blessed Margaret of Castello.
  • Playwright Alex La Perchia whose play about Blessed Margaret focuses on her loving and cheerful response to the difficulties she faced will also speak.

The program is free but registration is required. Contact the Respect Life Office of the Diocese of Rockville Centre at (516) 379-8292 extension 215 or for registration information.

Wesley J. Smith
Wesley J. Smith is the author or co/author of 11 books. His current book, Consumers Guide to a Brave New World ponders the dangers and potential benefits of human cloning, stem cell therapies and genetic engineering. He is currently conducting research for a book he will write on the animal rights/liberation movement. His recent books are Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America and Power Over Pain: How to Get the Pain Control You Need. Mr. Smith is also the author of Forced Exit: the Slippery Slope from Assisted Suicide to Legalized Murder.

Mr. Smith's writing and opinion columns have appeared in such national and regional news publications as Newsweek, The New York Times, The Weekly Standard magazine, National Review, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New York Post, First Things, Forbes magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Detroit News among many others. Mr. Smith has also appeared on CNN Crossfire, Larry King Live, Good Morning America, Nightline, and the Sunday Program on BBC 4 radio.

In May 2004, National Journal named Mr. Smith one of the nation’s top expert thinkers in bioengineering because of his work in bioethics.

Father Edward John Thaddeus Hemsworth, O.P.
Father Edward John Thaddeus Hemsworth, O.P. is a priest of the Order of Preachers, the Dominican order. He is currently assigned as parochial vicar of the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer at 869 Lexington Avenue, in Manhattan. He is chaplain to the Third Order Dominican group, Our Lady of the Assumption chapter that meets every third Thursday of the month at the Church of Saint Vincent Ferrer.

Prior to his current assignment, Father. Hemsworth, O.P. was the director of the Blessed Margaret of Castello Shrine at St. Louis Bertrand Church in Louisville, KY where he was assigned as parochial vicar and as chaplain to the Third Order Dominican Women’s group. The Third Order Dominican Women’s group operates the Blessed Margaret of Castello Women’s Pregnancy Center in Louisville, KY.

Father Hemsworth was ordained a priest of the Dominican Order on May 21, 2004. He has a Master of Divinity degree from the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. and a Master of Science in Accounting from Western New England College in Springfield, MA. He graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in 1983.

Prior to entering the Dominican Order, Fr. Hemsworth, OP was a public accountant for Coopers & Lybrand in Springfield, MA, and an internal auditor for Mass Mutual Insurance Co. and Aetna Insurance Co.

Alex LaPerchia
Alex LaPerchia is a playwright, educator, author, college and secondary Instructor of English, novelist, screenwriter and nonfiction writer. Mr. LaPerchia contends that the war against poverty, drugs, crime and violence must be fought and won in the classroom by teaching moral issues. The author draws heavily upon his relationships with others, mostly students and his wife, relating how they helped him grow in values. His published books include: Spiritual Guide to Eternal Life: All God’s Children; A N.Y.C. Teacher Learns Love; A survey of Literature Through the Ages; and Satan and the Saint.

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About The Diocese of Rockville Centre
The Diocese of Rockville Centre was formed in 1957 and covers 1,222 square miles in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The diocese serves approximately 1.4 million Catholics (total population in both counties is approximately 3.3 million). There are 134 parishes in 115 towns. Last year over 20,000 baptisms, 18,000 confirmations, 20,000 first communions and 5,000 marriages took place in the diocese. There are 2,137 students in Catholic kindergarten, 23,825 in primary or elementary school, 12,628 in secondary school and 3,300 in higher institutions. There are 76 Catholic elementary and high schools and one Catholic college in the diocese. Catholic Health Services of Long Island consists of five hospitals, three nursing homes, two home-care agencies, two senior housing complexes, a community-based home for those with special needs and a hospice. Last year, Catholic Charities assisted more than 80,000 individuals who are poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged on Long Island. For more information, visit


Sean P. Dolan,
Diocese of Rockville Centre
516-678-5800, ext. 625