ALLOUEZ — Michael Kenney was a freshman in high school when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in 1973. “I was devastated by the news, viewing it as the end of America as we know it, because the taking of the life of innocent human beings directly violates our founding document, the Declaration of Independence,” Kenney told The Compass in a telephone interview.
Since that day, Kenney, an attorney and filmmaker, said he’s “directed an aspect of my life to try to return the principle of protection of the innocent as a cornerstone of who we are as a nation.”
Today, that conviction has led Kenney to his present role as president of Pro-Life Partners Foundation, which was officially launched on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8, 2021.
Kenney will serve as keynote speaker at a reception following the 2022 White Mass, which will be celebrated by Bishop David Ricken on Sunday, Feb. 13, at 9 a.m., at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Green Bay. The Mass is open to the public.
A reception sponsored by the St. Gianna Molla Guild of Northeast Wisconsin, which includes brunch and Kenney’s address, follows in the Cathedral Center beginning at 10:15 a.m. Cost for brunch is $15 for St. Gianna Molla Guild members and $20 for nonmembers.
Kenney said he was invited to speak at the White Mass reception by Dr. Karen Konz, a member of the St. Gianna Molla Guild, after he spoke at the Catholic Medical Association’s 90th annual educational conference last October in Orlando, Fla.
His filmmaking credits include serving as associate executive producer of “Unplanned” and “Pray: The Story of Patrick Peyton.” He holds undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s of law degree from George Washington University.
Pro-Life Partners Foundation’s objective is to provide grants, matching funds and endowments to pro-life organizations to help them grow in their mission to end abortion.
“We are seeking to be the ‘wind beneath the pro-life movement,’ to empower the pro-life movement,” said Kenney. “This is not a corporate takeover. It’s honoring all of the terrific pro-life work going on, but being in a position to help listen to what each entity is doing and then provide awareness about best practices and to communicate consistent pro-life messages.
“Ideally,” he added, “we provide financial stability so that the pro-life entities are able to focus full time on their work. Even after Roe v. Wade is overturned, there will always be a need to reinforce the culture of life ethic.”
In its inaugural year, Pro-Life Partners Foundation provided funding to four organizations: Live Action, 40 Days for Life, Students for Life of America and Sidewalk Advocates for Life.
“They are very worthy organizations,” Kenney told The Compass. “It’s important to emphasize that our hope is that we will be successful in inspiring others to give their benefaction to Pro-Life Partners Foundation as a way to enable us to have a capacity to become a traditional foundation, and that is receiving grants and responding to grant proposals from everyone within the prolife world — from the Gianna Molla Guild to Newman Clubs interested in having a pro-life initiative on their campus, to the hundreds of prolife entities that exist.”
According to Kenney, who is co-author of the 2019 book, “In God We Trust: Morally Responsible Investing,” Pro-Life Partners is now challenging the four organizations they’ve assisted to build endowments to secure their futures.
“We challenged each of them to raise a quarter of a million dollars … and then Pro-Life Partners will offer to match up to a quarter of a million per organization,” he said. “So the hope is that we are not taking from any donor who would otherwise be supporting any pro-life effort, but instead finding a new segment of the donor world that would see this as an efficient way to have an impact on the pro-life world.”
By investing in these groups and helping them grow, said Kenney, “Pro-Life Partners can inspire those type of philanthropists who recognize the value of placing their investment in that way.”
In his presentation following the White Mass, Kenney said he will draw on his background as a filmmaker to present an engaging presentation that covers the past 50 years promoting life.
His presentation, titled “The Heart of America: Ending Abortion and Building a Culture of Life,” will include audio clips from oral arguments made during the Roe v. Wade decision as well as video clips from the film “Unplanned.”
“It’s meant to cover the past 50 years, looking at the role doctors and lawyers played, and how we got to where we are,” he said, “and how both professions can return and restore justice for all. It’s meant to be inspiring and hope-filled with a degree of entertainment.”
Kenney said he looks forward to his Green Bay visit and hopes to visit the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in nearby Champion.
The White Mass for health care professionals has been a tradition in the United States since the late 1800s. Its name comes from the white lab coats worn by many in the profession.
“I’m just delighted to be given the opportunity to speak to this audience,” he said. “I am convinced that physicians, particularly those associated with the Gianna Molla Guild, are the ultimate answer to healing our country and I want to be a part of encouraging them and helping them do so.”
To learn more about Pro-Life Partners Foundation, visit prolifepartnersfoundation.org. To register for the brunch and Kenney’s presentation, visit sgmgnew.com/event/2022-annual-white-mass-brunch-speaker.