Tag Archives: Science

Why this scientist is pro-life

January 22, 2016

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Although temperatures were in the low 20s, Ken Cobian — double hip replacements and all — joined in both the annual Jan. 22 Prayer Service for Life at the Cathedral of St. Paul and the March for Life down to the State Capitol. Bob Zyskowski/The Catholic Spirit

Although temperatures were in the low 20s, Ken Cobian — double hip replacements and all — joined in both the annual Jan. 22 Prayer Service for Life at the Cathedral of St. Paul and the March for Life down to the State Capitol. Bob Zyskowski/The Catholic Spirit

Two new hips and all, Ken Cobian walked from the annual Jan. 22 Prayer Service for Life at the Cathedral of St. Paul down to the March for Life rally at the Minnesota State Capitol.

I first spotted him with his gray and blue knitted cap pulled over his ears as he slowly but steadily made his way back up St. Paul’s Cathedral Hill, Prolife Across America poster in hand, at the end of the rally.

Cobian, retired from his job as a material scientist at Medtronics, stopped back in the Cathedral to warm up before heading home, which was where I caught up to him.

I asked the question I’ve been asking folks at this Jan. 22 event since the first one back in 1974, when snowflakes kept smearing the ink on the notes I was taking outside the federal building in Peoria, Illinois: “Why is it important for you to be here today?”

Cobian had a ready answer, just as people have had since 1974: “I’m very much opposed to abortion, ever since I saw my children born years ago. That turned the light on for me.”

A parishioner with his wife, Susan, of St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony, Cobian earned a chemistry degree at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and did graduate work at both the University of Minnesota and at UCLA. Like some in the science fields, at one point he had turned away from his faith, he admitted. “My wife brought me back,” he said. “She’s my rock.”

He was at the pro-life rally two years ago, too, he said, but last year he couldn’t make it because he was in the midst of having hip replacements on both sides. “I’m fine now,” he said. “It’s nothing compared to the sin of abortion.”

He grabbed his hat to leave. “I’ve got to get home and get cleaned up,” Cobian said. “We’ve got a pro-life Mass tonight at St. Charles.”

 

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Cadavers at St. Kate’s: New lab gets archbishop’s blessing

September 23, 2011

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Archbishop John Nienstedt blesses one of two new human anatomy labs in the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health at St. Catherine University Sept. 19. (Dianne Towalski / The Catholic Spirit)

Archbishop blesses new anatomy lab at St. Catherine University — and yes, Catholics may donate their bodies to science

As far as unique events go in the life of an archbishop, this one might find a place near the top of the list: Blessing a lab where medical students will dissect human remains in the interest of science.

That’s what Archbishop John Nienstedt did this week at the invitation of St. Catherine University, which dedicated two new human anatomy labs in Mendel Hall on the school’s St. Paul campus.

The labs will be used by physical therapy students — who previously had to travel to the University of Minnesota to dissect cadavers — as well as eight other academic programs, including nursing and biology. More than 500 students are expected to participate in classes in the labs this semester.

Studying anatomy using real human bodies offers students an educational experience and research opportunity they can’t get from books and computer models alone.

But is it something the church approves?

Yes. The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes that if a person freely gives proper consent, “donation of organs after death is a noble and meritorious act and is to be encouraged as a manifestation of generous solidarity.”

And the U.S. bishops state in their “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services” that “Catholic health care institutions should encourage and provide the means whereby those who wish to do so may arrange for the donation of their organs and bodily tissue, for ethically legitimate purposes, so that they may be used for donation and research after death.”

Bodies used for scientific research must be treated with reverence and respect and the remains properly interred afterward. St. Kate’s plans to start each semester with a religious service to give students an opportunity to express thanks for the gift provided by each donor.

The new labs are a place where faith and science meet — something that Archbishop Nienstedt noted at Monday’s blessing:

“In educational circles, one of the big themes today is the relationship between faith and science. So often people think that there is no relationship. What we are doing here today really is the highlight of the complementarity of these two forms of learning, these two forms of living — because it’s our faith that really gives us the profound reverence and respect that we have for each human person as a son or daughter of God. And the science helps us, it leads us to foster [and] promote the discovery of that human body — what makes it tick, what makes it run — and to promote, in the end, therapies for healing and discoveries that will give us new insights into how we can live better. And, so, it’s very appropriate it seems to me that we ask God’s blessings upon this work today because it really is the best of what we’re about, bringing faith and science together.”

Read more about the labs in next week’s issue of The Catholic Spirit.

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