|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
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.”
Callaghan, student co-chair for the event said the 2011 theme
It Takes Courage was intended to encourage young people to
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.
|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.|
According to their website www.prolifeyouth.com, “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
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
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.
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.
more information on this year’s conference and future events, go
to www.prolifeyouth.com. For John Paul II’s Prayer for Life,
listed on the site, click here.