by John Jansen
Students, moderators and GFL staff at Oct. 22 leadership conference [Photo by EJS]
On Saturday, October 22, Generations for Life hosted the 2nd Annual Youth Leadership Conference at St. Mary of the Angels Parish in Chicago. Enthusiastic public and private school students and homeschoolers attended the event, which was a great success.
Pro-Life Action League Communications Director Eric Scheidler opened the conference with a PowerPoint presentation entitled “Male and Female He Created Them,” a talk on the theology of the body, a topic on which Eric had spoken frequently. Eric’s message was that an understanding of God’s plan for human love and relationships is the basis for understanding why abortion and contraception are contrary to His will, and why they contribute to human misery.
Annie Shares Club Success Stories
Generations for Life Director Annie Casselman gave an interactive presentation on effective recruitment techniques. Annie recounted several stories of bold activities intended to spread the pro-life message that she had orchestrated during her time as president of the pro-life club at Loyola University Chicago. Two teens shared their experience of wearing their pro-life T-shirts to school and bringing extras to sell. They were surprised at the positive response of their fellow students and even more surprised that they sold all forty shirts!
Regarding Annie’s presentation, Erin Dunne, a student at York High School in Elmhurst, IL, commented, “Annie really got me interested because she related her stories to us.”
John Presents Crash Course on Stem Cells
After lunch, I gave a PowerPoint presentation entitled “Treating the Embryo with Dignity,” which emphasized the need for pro-lifers to fight against embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, and other assaults on early human life. I noted that most types of stem cell research are ethical and consistent with pro-life principles and that adult stem cells hold the greatest promise in the area of scientific research.
Eric Illustrates Tips for Effective Writing
The last session of the day was a writing workshop. Eric Scheidler explained the League’s efforts to get the American Girl doll company to sever ties with the pro-abortion advocacy group Girls Inc., and asked the attendees to draft letters of protest to American Girl.
Eric’s nine years of experience as a college writing instructor were put to use as he led the attendees through a critique of the letter written by Alexandra Fedosenko, president of the pro-life club at Joliet Catholic Academy in Joliet, IL. Alexandra, along with Pamela Livorsi, another student from York High School, each won a copy of the GFL Curriculum for writing the best letters.
The American Girl campaign proved to be a good topic on which to end, as attendees departed with a strong desire to spread the word about the League’s efforts.
Teens Energized by Leadership Conference
Kristin Kramer, a youth minister at Immaculate Conception Parish in Elmhurst, IL, said, “The information on American Girl was the most interesting part of the conference. I am not really involved in pro-life activities right now and so I seem to miss a lot of the ‘new’ stuff that comes out.” She said the conference “renewed my passion for pro-life issues.”
Erin Dunne noted, “The main thing I learned at the conference is that anything is possible with God. It has really motivated me to start a pro-life club at my school”—a desire shared by many other attendees as well.
Plans are already underway for the third annual Generations for Life Youth Leadership Conference, to be held October 21, 2006.
Annie with Jennifer Gudenkauf at St. Mary’s in Sycamore, Nov. 30 [Photo by Ashley Wiora]
For most of the fall semester, Annie was on maternity leave, after the birth of her daughter Hannah (see story). But even before officially returning to work part time, she gave a talk at the Church of the Holy Sprit in Roscoe, IL on October 16. She gave a moving pro-life PowerPoint presentation featuring beautiful intrauterine pictures of unborn babies.
Annie Back to Work after Maternity Leave
On November 12, now back at work, Annie spoke to over 300 teens and their moms during a Purity Fashion Show in Pewaukee, WI. Rebecca Sande, whom Annie had met years before on a bus trip to Washington, D.C. for the March for Life, invited her for this outstanding event. This was the second Purity Fashion Show at which Annie has spoken. Such fashion shows are a great opportunity for young women to see that you can be both stylish and modest.
Annie returned to St. Mary Parish in Durand, IL on November 20 to speak to the confirmation class on chastity. On November 30 she spoke on chastity at St. Mary Parish in Sycamore, which has become an annual event.
The Key to Pro-Life Victory: Heroic Virtue
On October 14, John spoke to the Pro-Life Club at Joliet Catholic Academy, at the invitation of club president Alexandra Fedosenko, about the specific role that teens play in the battle to defend life. More than 45 students turned out for the early morning talk.
John gives a presentation at Joliet Catholic Academy, Oct 14 [Photo by Alexandra Fedosenko]
John discussed the major threats to human life today, especially abortion, euthanasia, and assisted suicide. He emphasized the importance of winning over the opponents of life on an individual basis by patiently witnessing to the truth of the Gospel. John told the students that the most important thing they can do to combat the culture of death is to live lives of personal holiness, especially in the area of sexual purity.
JCA students were quite receptive to the presentation, and Alexandra hopes to have John return next semester.