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It Takes Courage!
Students attend 8th annual pro-life youth conference in southeastern Michigan

Everest pro life 1
From left to right – Everest Collegiate Boys’ High School students Nick Greene, Chris Bradley, Gabe Fenske and Ryan Bradley proudly hold up pro-life conference brochure.

Bloomfield Hills, Michigan -- The Pro-life movement is alive and well among the young people in southeastern Michigan.  Students from schools throughout the area attended the 8th annual Building Bridges Culture of Life Youth Conference, held October 15, 2011 at Marian High School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Young people in grade 8 through college age were invited to attend. Participants represented more than a dozen public high schools and private schools in the area, as well as 14 of the Archdiocese of Detroit’s 25 Catholic high schools.  Also represented were 11 local home-schooling groups and students from at least 10 colleges and universities in Michigan.

About 40 of the students at the conference were from Everest Academy and Everest Collegiate High School in Clarkston, Michigan, where the conference was hosted last year.

Megan Nini’s daughter Adelena, a 7th grader at Everest, attended the conference for the first time and was profoundly affected.  “This was her first time attending,” said Megan. “When she got home, she wanted to stay up and talk and talk and talk.  I don’t think she had ever thought about issues such as abortion on her own like that.  She left there reaffirmed in what’s right, and that’s wonderful.”

Christina Blanek, a freshman from the host school, Marian, said of her experience, “It was such an eye opener to be there.  It made a huge impact on me.”

Cullen Callaghan, student co-chair for the event said the 2011 theme It Takes Courage was intended to encourage young people to
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Excited young parishioners from the cluster parishes of Our Lady Queen of Angels and St. Stephen/Mary Mother of the Church, both in Detroit, get ready to board the bus for the conference.
stand up and defend the unborn and the dignity of every person, despite opposition from society and confusion among peers. “Those who attended will now help build the Culture of Life!” he said.

According to their website, “Building Bridges to a Culture of Life” is a vehicle “where mainly Catholic youth, dedicated to educating other youth about the value of life, can work to build a network of peers ready to defend the dignity of every life from conception to natural death.”

The website states the pro-life youth conference is organized annually by a planning team of young people and mentored by an Adult Advisory Board.  The team and board “are faithful to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church” and seek the intercession of “Our Lady of Guadalupe” in their work.

During this year’s conference, participants heard from an array of 20 speakers and participated in break-out and film sessions. Topics addressed included: seeking purity; becoming a better man or woman; how to address cultural views on same-sex attraction from a Catholic perspective; unplanned pregnancies;  avoiding Planned Parenthood while supporting problem pregnancy centers; and abortion’s impact on humanity, especially on women and the current generation.
Speaker David Bereit, National Director “40 Days for Life,” told his listeners that the person who is going to be the most effective in stopping abortions in Michigan could be sitting “here in this auditorium today.”

Another speaker, Matt Williams, a past organizer for the conference who now attends Oakland University in Michigan, talked about purity to an audience of young women, asking the young women to “challenge the young men in their life to be their protectors.” He apparently impressed a group of Dominican nuns in attendance.  They commented he was “one of the best speakers for young women” they had ever heard. 

Lexi Schuele, a former organizer herself, is now a Youth Minister in Brunswick, Ohio.  She said that high school and college students who have been involved in the conferences now use their talents to “move the culture…they leave equipped to face the culture of death not only with facts and figures to counter the culture, but also with a skill set that can enable them to do bigger things.”

The conference also included Mass, Eucharistic Adoration and the opportunity for confession.  All attendees received a “goodie” bag including red duct tape with the word LIFE on it so students could participate in October 16th’s Pro-life Solidarity Day. (During that day, participants place the tape on their mouths, sleeves or forearm in solidarity with the babies who suffer abortion and cannot speak for themselves. Those who missed it can mark their calendars for Oct. 16, 2012.)  Participants also got a new 2011 t-shirt designed by students for the conference.  Afterwards, participants enjoyed dinner, open gym activities and a concert from bands including Atta Boy, Heath McNease and local band Obsidian Crush.

For more information on this year’s conference and future events, go to For John Paul II’s Prayer for Life, listed on the site, click here.



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Sponsored by the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement, Copyright 2011, Legion of Christ. All rights reserved.

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