SSI Strikes Pro-Life Gold Once Again

Following the lead of HLI founder, Fr. Paul Marx, this weekend Human Life International held what is commonly known in house as the “SSI,” or the Seminarian Summer Institute. Last year we gathered outside of Abidjan, Côte D’Ivoire. The SSI this year was just held in Lomé, the capital of Togo at the John Paul II Major Seminary. Sandwiched between the nations of Ghana and Benin, Togo welcomed approximately 150 French-speaking seminarians and 12 priests to this intense pro-life training course and spiritual retreat. Talks at our Francophone Institute are hosting participants of the following nations: Togo, Bénin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinée, Niger, Côte d’Ivoire. And, as the pro-life banner in the picture indicates, this was a special time for sharing, learning, prayer and camaraderie.

The SSI or Summer Seminarian Institute, held in Lomé, Togo in July, 2018.

When the program first began, African priests were actually flown to HLI headquarters, in Front Royal Virginia. For over a decade now HLI brings the seminarians and priests together from all over Africa! Ongoing leaders for the Seminarian Summer Institute in situ are Joseph Meaney, doctor of bioethics and Director of HLI International Outreach and Expansion, and George Wirnkar, HLI Regional Director for Francophone Africa. By God’s grace, seminaries in the region are full and ordinations continue to grow. HLI’s pro-life training is critical to helping form pro-life priests, who will go on to lead their parishes and pursue other apostolates for 35 or more years.

As you will know from HLI publications such as our monthly Mission Report, the onslaught by the West continues to target traditional African values, which highly prize life and family. HLI wages an ongoing fight against this Culture of Death. HLI President, Father Shenan J. Boquet:

“Many private institutions, NGOs, and governments consider development and population control as symbiotic – linking legitimate development aid to the imposition of birth/population control.  HLI has confronted this situation since our inception and, in collaboration with the local Catholic Church and international pro-life leaders, continues to fight this radical mentality that attacks the inalienable dignity of the human person.”

HLI would like to congratulate those seminarians taking part in this year’s SSI, both repeat attendees and seminarians new to the program, alike.


Note: Special thanks to Radio Maria, who interviewed HLI staff, hosted a 30-minute broadcast and broadcast a Mass involving this event.

About Deborah M. Piroch

Deborah M. Piroch graduated from Mount Holyoke College, the nation’s oldest women’s college, with a double major in German and English Literature. She studied abroad and earned her M.A. in English Literature from Indiana University. Fluent in German, she began her career in international journalism working for Radio Deutsche Welle in Cologne, Germany. Returning to the States after a three-year contract, she worked as arts reporter and producer on prime time shows for WQED-FM in Pittsburgh, then a top 20 market. After another three years, she was hired by EWTN Global Catholic Network as news director, anchor and writer for “Catholic World Today,” but soon transitioned into television. Highlights of her 15 years at EWTN include co-anchoring the U.S. March for Life with Marcus Grodi on more than one occasion, live translating the election of Pope Benedict XVI into German, interviewing two former U.S. Presidential candidates and producing Father Benedict Groeschel’s prime time program from its inception for six years. Named the Network’s first International Production Coordinator, she also proposed, budgeted and executed TV shoots in Scotland, England, Norway, Sweden and Germany. Most recently she served as Director of PR for Human Life International.

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