Student works on a pro-life picket sign during a workshop in Groom, TX [Photo by John Jansen]
Since I was invited to speak at the San Antonio Coalition for Life’s first ever conference for high school students earlier this year, I’ve returned to Texas for two other great pro-life teen events.
On May 1, it was my privilege to give a series of talks at the Diocese of Brownsville’s Youth Chastity and Pro-Life Conference at St. Joan of Arc Parish in Weslaco. The Diocese’s Pro-Life Apostolate organized the event, which attracted a crowd of over 300 teens, along with dozens of college students, young adults, and parents. As I’m primarily accustomed to speaking in classrooms or at pro-life club meetings, this was the largest group I’d ever spoken to!
Great Pro-Life Conference in Brownsville
When I first arrived at the parish hall the day of the conference, I was impressed to see a display area set up inviting attendees to enter and view a series of pictures of aborted babies, along with captions describing various abortion procedures. There were also numerous exhibitors offering pro-life materials and literature, as well as scapulars, rosaries, and other devotional items.
The first talk I gave was my “Making the Case for Life” presentation. After a pro-life skit performed by members from Mary Mother of the Church Parish in Brownsville, I gave a talk entitled, “Don’t Trust Planned Parenthood”, which focused on the deception and lies pushed by the U.S.’s largest abortion chain.
During this presentation, I showed two undercover videos produced by Lila Rose’s student-run pro-life group Live Action, which the teens found especially eye-opening.
Following another pro-life skit was a presentation from two sidewalk counselors affiliated with the McAllen Pregnancy Center, who invited the teens to join them in witnessing to life by praying outside their local abortion clinic.
Chastity and Reconciliation
After lunch, the Diocese’s much beloved Bishop Emeritus Raymundo Peña briefly addressed the teens and thanked them for coming to the conference. I then gave a talk on chastity and placed special emphasis on going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation frequently as a means of growing in this virtue. I was grateful that the Pro-Life Apostolate had invited several priests to be present throughout the day, and many teens had their confessions heard.
The last presentation I gave addressed how to start a pro-life club using our Pro-Life Curriculum. All the talks I gave were very well received, and I was impressed by the many thoughtful questions that attendees asked.
Following my talk, the group prayed the Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and spent time in Adoration of the Holy Eucharist. The day ended with Mass celebrated by Bishop Daniel Flores.
Lock-In for Life in Amarillo
On October 2, I visited the opposite end of the state to give a series of talks at the Diocese of Amarillo’s Lock In for Life at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in the town of Groom. The Diocese’s Respect Life Ministry organized the event, which drew a crowd of 125 teens, along with many adult sponsors. This was the fourth year the event has been held, and this is the largest crowd they’ve ever had!
After opening remarks by Respect Life Ministry Director Stephanie Frausto, I gave my “Making the Case for Life” presentation.
After lunch, I conducted a Pro-Life Protest Sign Workshop. To do this, I first I presented several examples of effective, well made protest signs—as well as several examples of ineffective signs— and explained why they were so.
The teens were then divided into smaller groups and given posterboard, markers, and a specific protest scenario—for example: “A benefit dinner is being held at a fancy hotel in Amarillo to raise money for Planned Parenthood”—and their job was to create a sign that could be used at a picket of the event. Each of the groups put an impressive effort into their signs.
The last presentation I gave addressed how to start a pro-life club using our Pro-Life Curriculum. All the talks I gave were very well received.
Rape Victim’s Moving Story
After dinner, a woman named Edel Carrick shared her very moving testimony about the decision she faced in 2004 when she was raped and became pregnant with her now six-year-old son Zachary.
Edel’s talk set the tone perfectly for the evening. Afterward, everyone went next door to the church for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Several priests were also present, and every participant went to confession.
On Sunday, Bishop Patrick Zurek celebrated Mass, and then the group walked to the town’s 200-foot-tall Cross, where the bishop led a prayer service, followed by a concert by Edel.
By all accounts, both the Brownsville Pro-Life Conference and the Amarillo Lock In for Life were tremendously successful, and I was honored to be a part of both events.
John Jansen speaks on graphic abortion images at an Apostles for Life meeting [Photo by Christine Weisner]
The 2010 summer and fall months have provided many opportunities to share the pro-life message and invite teens to become more actively involved in the pro-life movement.
On June 11, I spoke at the Apostles for Life club meeting at Sacred Heart Parish in Lombard, Illinois, where I gave a talk focusing generally on the importance of graphic pictures in the fight against abortion, with a particular emphasis on the Pro-Life Action League’s Face the Truth demonstrations. This was the second time I had given this talk, and it was very well received.
As I had done when I first gave this talk earlier this year at the meeting of the Crusaders for Life club, also based in Lombard, following my talk I invited the club members to participate in the League’s Face the Truth Tour in July.
Dozens of members of both clubs took me up on the offer, and their presence was a tremendous boon for the summer Truth Tour (see story, page 3). Many of them eagerly volunteered to take on some of the Tour’s hard jobs—like passing out literature to work weary commuters at the end of the day in downtown Chicago—and engaged in discussions with passersby who made it very clear that they didn’t at all care for us or our willingness to stand up for the rights of unborn children.
Just a few days after the Tour concluded, I was invited to give two presentations—one on how to start a pro-life club, the other my “Making the Case for Life” talk—at the first ever Justice and Life Youth Leadership Summit sponsored by the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Respect Life Office.
I also presented “Making the Case for Life” September 19 at Immaculate Conception Parish in Morris, Illinois; October 18 and 19 to Religious Education classes at St. Michael Parish in Orland Park, Illinois; and October 25 at three locations in Michigan: St. Joseph Middle School and St. Philip Catholic Central High School in Battle Creek and St. Monica Parish in Kalamazoo.
Please keep the work of Generations for Life in your prayers as we continue to receive such great opportunities to share the pro-life message.