“The Center for Life operates on the caring and supportive principle that life is sacred. …it should be nurtured and protected above all else.” Sr. Catherine Norton, St. Vincent’s Medical Center “Mediscoop,” October 27, 1976
Respect Life Coordinator
Mary Catherine Damon
Fr. Anthony Palazzolo, M.S., M.A.
From its earliest days, the Center for Life (now known as the Diocesan Center for Family Life) has recognized the importance of protecting life and strengthening the family.
In a June 29, 1976 letter requesting the founding of the Center, Sr. Catherine Norton, Administrator of St. Vincent’s Medical Center, wrote to Most Rev. Paul Tanner, Bishop of St. Augustine, “…there is nothing more important in my opinion than working toward strengthening of the family unit and providing to our people alternatives to the social problems imposed upon them by today’s society.”
On January 18, 1977, the Center for Life was dedicated as a collaborative effort between St. Vincent’s Medical Center and the Diocese of St. Augustine. Nancy Fisher, R.N., became the first Director of the Center and Fr. Daniel Cody became the Spiritual Director.
The dedication included the planting of a live oak tree, “symbolic of the Center for Life philosophy. From the nurtured seed sprout deep roots and spreading branches. A strong foundation facilitates continuing growth. So it is with human life. Given its deserved care, protection and respect, this greatest of God’s gifts can grow into what He intended when He gave it to us.” – Center for Life Dedication, Jan 18, 1977
In a January 11, 2007 letter, Stephen Patton, the Director of the Diocesan Center at the time, wrote to Sr. Catherine Norton, “It is my honor to let you know that the sapling you planted 30 years ago has, literally and figuratively, grown and prospered.”
Today the Diocesan Center for Family Life continues to spread its roots to all segments of the community, providing many programs which support life and the family.