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February 1, 2009

Pro-life pilgrimage worth the trip Conviction of young adult deepened

By Molly Listenberger


What does it mean to be pro-life? Being a Catholic young adult, I thought I had somewhat of a good idea of what this meant. However, after attending March for Life on Jan. 22 in Washington, D.C., I have a greater appreciation for what it truly means to be pro-life and the great responsibility this entails.

I attended the March for Life pilgrimage this year as part of the college and young-adult group through the archdiocese’s Respect Life Office. For anyone who has ever considered attending the March for Life, I highly recommend it. You will definitely come back more convicted than ever to spread the gospel of life.

The most powerful part of the March for me was the Silent No More rally at the Supreme Court, held following the march on Jan. 22. I was amazed by the number of women who volunteered to not only carry signs that read “I regret my abortion,” and that they had the courage to stand up in front of strangers and share their experiences, providing listeners with an intimate and personal insight of the effects that abortion has on lives.

I was shocked by the trials and sufferings each of these women had endured — many of whom experienced years of drug and alcohol abuse, promiscuity, attempted suicides, depression and anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder or infertility. Prior to this rally, I had not realized the extent to which abortion affects women and the gravity of the physical and mental health consequences of their decisions.

Later that night, our group attend the Life Prizes event, an annual program to award outstanding efforts in the pro-life movement. I was completely inspired by these individuals who have given their entire lives to promoting life, each one unique but just as efficacious.

Like any profound life experience, I cannot place completely into words the effects this pilgrimage has had on my life. However, I would like to share some of my resolutions with you, in hopes that you will join me in this march for life every day of your own life.

I truly believe you cannot love what you do not know. So, as a young adult with various social networks and life roles, I feel called more than ever to share any pro-life resources, information and life experiences I’ve had such as participating in this March for Life with my family members, friends, co-workers and acquaintances.

Abortion is truly a hidden evil, and the more we can expose such evil, the better we will be able to conquer it. We are completely blessed as Catholics to have all the tools we need to understand the depths of the sanctity of human life, but we also have the responsibility to share this with others.

We cannot seek to solve all of the issues of the pro-life movement at once. This would be overwhelming and would most likely become discouraging. One of the speakers at the Life Prizes ceremony challenged us to find our niche and to go after it with all our hearts. She pointed out the vastness of the pro-life arena and the specific call that each of us has to passionately pursue that which we feel called to support or change. There are numerous arenas such as chastity education, crisis pregnancy centers and women’s health post-abortion.

As one of the chaplains on our trip pointed out, it is not only “the priest’s job” to support the right to life; all of us are called to be pro-life activists and to defend those who cannot defend themselves.

Although the right to life is at its core a humanitarian issue, we as Catholics have an even deeper understanding of what the right to life truly entails — an opportunity to participate in the gift of life that God has bestowed upon us. We must respond to this call from God to protect the unborn and to do so with charitable hearts and minds, without reservation. “Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ” (Eph 4:15).

Listenberger is a member of the archdiocese’s Culture of Life Junior Board.