Training Our Pro-Life Teens to Make the Case for Life
The summer and fall of 2012 provided numerous opportunities for Generations for Life to share the pro-life message with teens and young adults.
On June 29, I spoke at the Rockford Diocese’s first ever Life Leadership Camp held at the Bishop Lane Retreat Center in Rockford. I gave two presentations: one on “Making the Case for Life and another on how to start a pro-life club. It was a great privilege to speak at this event, and I had a chance to meet several great pro-life teens.
John speaks at McHenry County College October 12 [Photo courtesy of MCC Students Supporting the Right to Life]
On July 20, I was invited by Mrs. Virginia Seuffert to speak at the Pere Marquette Catholic Homeschooling Conference in Naperville, Illinois. I gave my “Making the Case for Life talk to a great group of teenagers, who asked several excellent questions during the Q & A session.
I also manned a display table for GFL in the conference’s exhibit hall, which allowed me to talk at greater length with several teens who attended my talk. I also caught up with Fr. Frank “Rocky Hoffman, executive director of Relevant Radio, another speaker at the conference. I had worked under Father Rocky at Northridge Prep School in Niles, Illinois several years before and had not seen him in some time.
Outstanding Gary Youth Conference
A few days later, on July 28, I headed to Northwest Indiana for the Diocese of Gary’s Catholic Youth Experience Conference (CYX) held at Valparaiso University. I gave a more extended version of “Making the Case for Life three times—once to freshmen, once to sophomores, and once to juniors—with each group numbering around 40 teens. The talk was very well received each time, and teens in all three sessions asked several thoughtful questions.
I was thoroughly impressed with the CYX conference, which was one of the most smoothly run events at which I have ever spoken—a testament to the hard work of the Gary Diocese youth ministry director, Kevin Driscoll, and his staff.
On October 11, I presented “Making the Case for Life to the youth group at Holy Cross Parish in Batavia, Illinois at the invitation of one of its members, Maggie Dietz, who had heard my talk at the Rockford Life Leadership Camp back in June.
My talk was well received by this impressive and intellectually curious group of teens, who offered several insightful comments throughout the course of the talk.
The following day, I was honored to be the guest speaker at the “Party for Life sponsored by Students Supporting the Right to Life at McHenry County College (MCC) in Crystal Lake, Illinois.
The event was designed as an “open house of sorts, not only to build camaraderie among the group’s members, but also to invite other members of the MCC community to meet club members and get pro-life resources like the Pro-Life Action League’s Sharing the Pro-Life Message handbook.
In my talk, I commended the club’s members on all that they are doing for the pro-life cause and encouraged them to take part in some pro-life activities that they have not yet tried—like prayer witness or sidewalk counseling outside abortion clinics or a “Face the Truth Tour.
Students Must Be Prepared to Defend Life
On October 23, I returned to Holy Cross in Batavia, this time to present “Making the Case for Life to the school’s seventh and eighth grade students.
The day was designated as “Pro-Life T-Shirt Day, so nearly all of the students—along with school principal Tricia Weis—wore pro-life T-shirts to my talk. I emphasized that even if these students have not yet had a conversation with someone who is “pro-choice, they certainly will within the next few years, and they need to be prepared to defend their pro-life beliefs.
With 2012 coming to a close, I’m grateful that Generations for Life has already received a number of speaking requests for 2013. Please keep us in your prayers during the coming year, that through these speaking opportunities, God will use Generations for Life to instill in young people a greater respect for life.
Kansas High School Students Put Pro-Life Beliefs into Action
Would you be willing to ride three hours each way on a bus so you could pray outside an abortion clinic? The students at St. John’s Catholic High School in Beloit, Kansas, have done just that—and not just once, but many times, most recently last month.
I spoke recently with Andrew Niewald, a theology teacher at the school, who is eager to share the story of his students’ courageous pro-life witness in the hope that other Catholic schools will provide similar opportunities for their students to put their pro-life beliefs into action out in the world.
In a story about the St. John’s pro-life project on LifeSiteNews, written by Rita Diller of Stop Planned Parenthood, Andrew explains:
We tried all sorts of things, including watching The Silent Scream and other abortion videos, but that did not have the impact we needed. Once the students were out there, three or four feet from the girls coming in to have abortions, begging them not to go in, it made it so much more real.
We could take the students to the World War II museum, let them see the memorabilia behind glass doors, but that does not have the same impact as taking them to the front lines. We take them, instead, to the battle lines, and the conviction they walk away with is tremendous.
The importance of Andrew’s observations here cannot be overstated. Teachers and other educators like clergy and youth ministers can and certainly must talk about abortion with their students. But actually bringing students to an abortion clinic gives them an experience that simply can’t be replicated in a classroom.
Nothing Quite Like Being There
There is nothing quite like the somber experience of going where the killing actually happens. There is nothing quite like the jarring experience of seeing expressions of sadness, sorrow, and despair on the faces of women (and girls) going in.
And there is nothing quite like the trying experience of praying the Rosary and holding a prolife sign and hearing someone curse at you—and, instead of responding in kind, learning to turn the other cheek and bear wrongs patiently.
When you go to an abortion clinic for the first time, you realize that abortion is no longer a theoretical issue to be merely talked about. You realize that you can’t just talk about abortion, you have to actually do something about it.
That’s what is so encouraging about what’s going on at St. John’s High School. Andrew Niewald and the other teachers there are setting the bar high for their students—expecting students to spend six hours on a bus so they can pray for 90 minutes outside the nearest abortion clinic is asking a lot. But with solid formation and instruction, the students at St. John’s are living up to those high expectations.
It was a privilege to talk with Andrew, and he gratefully accepted my offer of a complimentary copy of the Generations for Life Pro-Life Curriculum.
Please keep his students in your prayers that they will continue to grow in their love for unborn children and their willingness to put their pro-life beliefs into action.