- GFL Accepted into Youth Ministry Federation
- Club Update: Geauga Catholic Teens for Life
- Why Are Young People Becoming More Pro-Life?
GFL Accepted into Youth Ministry Federation
In the spring of 2009, I submitted an application on behalf of Generations for Life to become a collaborating member of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry. I knew from the outset that due to the multi-step approval process, it would take some time before I learned whether or not GFL would be accepted.
The NFCYM office kept me apprised as GFL’s application cleared each successive hurdle, and then, in the fall of 2010, I received an invitation to attend the Federation’s annual membership conference in January, to be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico. At this conference there would be an informal “Meet and Greet” session at which representatives of prospective collaborating member organizations would have an opportunity to introduce themselves to current members, who would be voting the following day on which applicants would be admitted.
Although it was not required that prospective member organizations send a representative to be present at the meeting, it was strongly encouraged, and I got the sense that it would greatly help GFL’s chances if I attended.
January Meeting Well Worth It
Looking at my calendar, I noticed that the date for the meeting, January 27, was just two days before TeenSpeak, our annual pro-life conference. As you might imagine, the days leading up to TeenSpeak are the most hectic of the year, as there are inevitably numerous last-minute details to attend to. So while I was hesitant to be away from the office during this time, I decided it was worth it to fly to Albuquerque to attend the meeting.
I’m glad I did. I was able to meet many great people who were very happy to learn about us. And, most importantly, Generations for Life was accepted as a collaborating member!
This is a tremendous honor, since GFL is the first youth outreach organization focused primarily on the pro-life cause to be accepted as a collaborating member of the NFCYM.
The Federation’s next major event is the National Catholic Youth Conference, a biennial event that we attended as an exhibitor for the first time in 2009. That year’s conference, held in Kansas City, drew a crowd of over 20,000 teens! At our display booth, we handed out over 1,000 “Precious Feet” pins, along with hundreds of pro-life stickers and brochures.
Looking Forward to November Conference
Needless to say, we’re really looking forward to NCYC 2011, which will be held November 17-19 in Indianapolis. This year we’ll be giving away our “Your Mom Chose Life” pins—the winning design from the Pro-Life Button Workshop at our TeenSpeak conference earlier this year.
It is my hope that our collaborating membership in NFCYM will aid our mission, affording us greater national exposure among youth advocates and young people themselves who might not have previously heard of Generations for Life. This will in turn allow us to play a greater role in building a culture of life among the Millennial generation.
Club Update: Geauga Catholic Teens for Life
Geauga Catholic Teens for Life in northeastern Ohio is one of the newest clubs to become affiliated with Generations for Life. Recently, GFL Director John Jansen received an e-mail from club moderator Jacque Cicchella, who had ordered a copy of the GFL Pro-Life Curriculum earlier this year and wanted to share what the club had been doing over the summer. Following is Jacque’s e-mail, slightly edited for readability:
Geauga Catholic Teens for Life is AMAZING! I can’t begin to tell you what an incredible blessing these teens are in my life, our parish and the prolife movement. We meet for two hours each week and our meetings include a Gospel reflection, a spiritual warfare lesson a prayer activity (Rosary for Life, Stations for Life, etc.) and then a life topic lesson. (A big thank you for providing the Pro-Life Curriculum!) I am amazed each week as the Gospel reading, the spiritual warfare lesson and then the life lesson are all intertwined with a common message. This part is totally unplanned. It’s all the Holy Spirit!
We’ve been very busy this past summer. Some of us meet on First Saturdays, joining with Knights of Columbus and other pro-lifers from the area to fulfill First Saturday devotions at a local Abbey. Afterwards, we gather to pray outside one of our area abortuaries. Our officers and one of our members attended the Pro-Life Youth Congress (PLYC) Leadership Conference. They had a chance to get to know other PLYC officers and members from across Ohio to enhance their knowledge of life issues and to plan for the upcoming school year.
We volunteered at the Race for Life in Akron, and participated in a day of remembrance at a shrine to honor the babies that have gone to Heaven early as a result of abortion, miscarriage, stillbirth or illness. It was a very moving experience.
We’ve just spruced up our white crosses in preparation for our annual White Cross Project. White crosses will be on display outside our church the week of 8/29 through Labor Day. The crosses will then head out to three other local churches. We’re also gearing up for the Fall 40 Days for Life campaign, Life Chain, and a Baby Bottle Drive to collect change for area pregnancy centers. We’re also looking forward to the holiday season when we hope to spend some time on “end of life” issues, spending time at area nursing homes with our elderly brothers and sisters in Christ.
Why Are Young People Becoming More Pro-Life?
In June 2011, a poll was released by the Public Religion Research Institute that focused on Millennial generation adults (ages 18-29) and their opinions on issues like abortion. The always insightful Dr. Michael New, professor of political science at the University of Alabama, analyzed the poll’s findings in a LifeSiteNews column, writing:
The General Social Survey has been collecting opinion data on abortion using the same battery of questions since the 1970s. In most years, respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 tend to be the least sympathetic toward the pro-life position. However, starting around the year 2000, those between the ages 18 and 29 were on average more pro-life than those from other age cohorts.
Professor New noted there is no consensus among social scientists as to why the current generation of young people is more pro-life, but gave three possible reasons:
- The development of ultrasound technology
- The 1990s debate over partial-birth abortion
- The increase in a positive portrayal of single motherhood in popular culture (as in movies like Juno)
All of these are certainly valid explanations for the pro-life shift among older teens and young adults. But I think there is at least one other important explanation behind it.
Before I worked at the Pro-Life Action League, I was a high school Religion teacher. At a girls’ Catholic high school in Chicago where I once taught, whenever I covered the topic of abortion, I would ask my students how many of them knew someone who had had an abortion. Inevitably, nearly every hand would go up.
Should this come as a surprise? Certainly not. It’s simply a fact that the more time goes by, the number of women who have had an abortion continues to grow.
Because there are so many post-abortive women around today, almost everyone of any age, including young people, personally knows someone who has had one. And in overwhelmingly large numbers, women who have had abortions hate the experience, often saying it was the worst thing that ever happened to them.
As more and more women talk to their relatives and friends about their abortion experiences, and begin to speak out—whether privately, publicly, or via anonymous confessions on websites like the enormously popular PostSecret.com—the less likely young people are to believe abortion is ever a good idea.