Mission and History
Each year, the Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life strives to promote intellectually rigorous discourse on the sanctity of human life as well as build a culture of life both within and beyond the Georgetown community. Georgetown students founded the Conference in 2000 and remain both the organizers and facilitators of what has become the largest student-run, pro-life Conference in the United States. Rooted in the Catholic tradition, the Conference is named in the honor of His Eminence John Cardinal O’Connor, who principally committed himself to advocate for the defenseless and eloquently defend pro-life positions.
We aim to encourage discussion among men and women of all faiths and backgrounds, including students, professionals, academics, and clergy. Participants will leave the Conference equipped with the necessary arguments and information to engage their local communities and foster a culture of life.
Traditionally held on the day before or after the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., the Conference was first held in 2000 and later named in honor of His Eminence John Cardinal O’Connor, the late Archbishop of New York and a Georgetown University alumnus. Cardinal O’Connor was renowned for his courage as a champion of the unborn, and the Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life seeks to continue his mission of defending the sacredness of all human life. Each year, you will get to listen to leading voices in the pro-life movement, participate in small group discussions, meet other collegiate pro-life leaders, and enjoy the aura of being in our nation’s capital during the March for Life.
Originally created for college and high school students, the Conference now attracts students, academics, clergy, and activists from around the country to reflect on the plethora of pro-life positions that Cardinal O'Connor staunchly defended. The Conference has grown to host many prominent pro-life speakers, including Helen Alvaré, Dr. Robert George, Margaret Colin, Dr. Michael Pakaluk, Deirde McQuade, Archbishop Burke, Cardinal O'Malley, Dr. Charles Camosy, Ross Douthat, Jennifer O'Neill, Mother Agnes of the Sisters for Life, the Little Sisters of the Poor, Serrin Foster, Rep. Chris Smith, Dr. Wanda Franz, Dr. Mildred Jefferson, Dr. Alveda C. King, Rep. Henry Hyde, Richard Doerflinger, and Lila Rose.
The Knights of Columbus made this video about our Eighteenth Annual Conference in January 2017, highlighting their support and involvement in our efforts.