Local students take antiabortion beliefs from the classroom to Washington, D.C.

Tue, 01/29/2008 - 5:02pm
By: Kevin Wandra

Tens of thousands of people took part last week in the annual “March for Life” rally marking the 35th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision that ruled that a woman has a constitutional right to have an abortion.

One group that participated in the march, held in Washington, D.C., was Mercy for Life, Our Lady of Mercy High School’s pro-life student organization.

Nineteen Mercy students, along with four Mercy teachers and the Rev. Victor A. Galier from Saint Matthew Catholic Church in Tyrone, participated in the march.

The group left on Jan. 21 and came back home two days later.

On its first day in Washington, the group visited Arlington National Cemetery and at night attended the Vigil Mass for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, which is adjacent to the campus of the Catholic University of America.

The following day, the group went to the Verizon Center for a youth rally and Mass and a rally hosted by Silent No More, an organization for post-abortive women, at the National Mall. Its trip concluded with the March for Life, which starts at the Ellipse of the National Mall and formally ends at the Supreme Court building.

Sierra Correa, a first-year art teacher at Our Lady of Mercy and the head of Mercy for Life, feels the trip helped the Mercy for Life students strengthen their pro-life views and put them into action.

“It’s a really great experience for kids,” Correa said. “It’s good to see them do something with their beliefs. It’s good to get the kids strong roots in pro-life and get them out into the world. We want to make the pro-life movement a part of their lives and get them to understand why they are pro-life.

“We want to get pro-life integrated into their beliefs so they are not shaken when they get out into a world that’s not accepting of their views.”

Our Lady of Mercy campus minister Mark Tolcher, who founded Mercy for Life five years ago, also feels the trip was beneficial to the development of the students’ pro-life beliefs.

“We had a good mix of students who made the trip,” Tolcher said. “One benefit for them from being in that environment is that it strongly strengthens their position on abortion and other pro-life issues. It’s important to note, people from all races, genders and grade levels at our school are interested in the March for Life and feel strongly about it.”

Mercy for Life president Geno Finn, a student at Our Lady of Mercy, has made the trip to Washington, D.C., three times. Each year has been memorable for Finn, but especially this year because of an encounter with pro-choice protesters.

“The trip was very inspirational,” Finn said. “When we saw pro-choice people, it riled us up a little. It also made us more humble. Father Vic told us to pray for them.

“We prayed for them and all our enemies. Knowing you can change somebody, that means a lot.”

Fifteen other Mercy for Life students, along with two Our Lady of Mercy teachers and Rev. Jimmy Adams, Our Lady of Mercy’s chaplain, attended another pro-life event, “Together for Life,” an annual march held at the Georgia state capitol in Atlanta, on Jan. 22.

The two marches are important events in which Mercy for Life’s students participate every year, but both are just a part of the students’ devotion to the pro-life movement.

Thirty to 40 students regularly attend Mercy for Life’s meetings, held once at month at school. Life issues — abortion, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, euthanasia, assisted suicide, the death penalty and abortifacient contraceptives — are thoroughly discussed at the meetings.

Mercy for Life students promote the dignity of human life at all its stages through prayer and spirituality, public relations and communications, education, events planning and outreach and community service both on and off campus.

They encourage their fellow classmates to attend Mass and adoration; distribute prayer cards; help pregnancy centers, including hosting a car wash fund-raiser for the Advice and Aid Pregnancy Center in Hapeville; and partake in an annual Life Chain, an event held at churches across the country each year in which parishioners stand on a sidewalk and pray for an hour while holding pro-life signs, among other activities.

Mercy for Life students also will begin to pray at a local abortion clinic in the near future, said Correa.

“We want to teach the kids how to get involved in the pro-life movement,” Correa said. “We want to help guide them and show them how to put their thoughts into action. We want them to be able to defend their views.”

Said Tolcher: “We want to educate people about pro-life issues, increase awareness and be advocates for the most vulnerable members of society.”

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Submitted by Split Decision on Wed, 01/30/2008 - 4:00pm.

also prevented something else - a local group of high school students spending the week in Washington, D.C. with The Close-Up Foundation couldn't get into the Senate building for their appointment.

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