Thursday, May 23, 2024

Lancaster Deanery Students Take Action for Pregnancy Resource Center with Multi-School Event

Nearly 200 seventh and eighth graders from Catholic schools in Lancaster County raised their collective voices, prayers and donations at the inaugural Pro-Life Day and Run for Resources on Thursday, April 11 at St. Leo the Great Parish in Rohrerstown.

The daylong event spurred students to put their pro-life values into action, as they donated financial and material support to A Woman’s Concern, a pregnancy resource center in Lancaster. They also learned how they can be a voice in the pro-life movement, and spent time in prayer for the protection of human life.

The inaugural multi-school event grew out of St. Leo the Great School’s own Run for Resources last year, and was in conjunction with A Woman Concern’s annual Partners’ Event at the parish that evening.

Middle schoolers from St. Leo’s, Our Lady of the Angels in Columbia, Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Ephrata, and St. John Neumann and Resurrection in Lancaster filled St. Leo’s campus for the day. Students from Sacred Heart of Jesus School in Lancaster were unable to attend due to their schedule, and conducted their own baby shower for the pregnancy resource center.

Members of Lancaster Catholic High School’s Respect Life Club were also on hand, providing leadership to the middle-school students and setting up the day’s activities.

“As schools, we all agreed a year ago that we wanted to do something local and get the middle school and high schools together to bear witness to the sanctity of life as a group, and to be of service,” said Tim Hamer, President of Lancaster Catholic.

The day kicked off with a spirited one-mile fun run/walk to benefit the pregnancy resource center. As of April 19, the donations were approximately $5,000 with more still to be counted.

“To see the energy and vitality of our Catholic students rallying for us was an inspiration,” said Jill Hartman, Executive Director of A Woman’s Concern. “Many of the schools have baby showers for us throughout the year and we often speak to elementary students through our Empowered Youth program. Today was a wonderful chance to bring everybody here to celebrate life, to pray and to learn about the resources that centers like ours provide, and how they – even as students – can get involved.”

“The challenge we have in our world today is the deception that tells women that abortion is their only option with an unplanned pregnancy. We need to reach our youth before they hear all the deception, and give them the truth that ‘pro-life’ is pro-woman, pro-family, pro-science,” she said.

After an energetic Run for Resources and a pizza lunch, the students quieted themselves in the church, where Father Peter Hahn, pastor of St. Leo’s, led them in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and in praying the Rosary. Their reverence for the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist was evident as they knelt in silent adoration before singing hymns of praise.

To conclude the day, students heard a presentation from Liana Moorman, the Eastern Regional Manager of Students for Life, an organization that helps form pro-life activism groups on high school and college campuses.

Moorman pointed out that abortion is not just a women’s issue; it is a human issue that impacts women, men, families and communities. “If you don’t think that abortion affects you, look around. One-fifth of your generation is missing because of it,” she said.

Moorman told the students they’re never too young to witness to the sanctity of human life. She encouraged them to get involved by supporting pregnancy resource centers and maternity homes, praying for a culture of life or joining a pro-life club in their school or parish.

“There is no age requirement for praying for a culture of life, for taking actionable steps to promote the culture of life. You can do it today,” she said.

Following her presentation, Moorman told The Witness she was inspired to see some 200 students gathered to support women and children in their own community.

“It fills me with so much hope to be able to see them all choosing to be here and be involved,” she said. “I visit college campuses quite a bit, and most of the time we’re talking with people who disagree with us. We spend a lot of time in that spiritual battle, so days like this keep me going and fill my cup.”

As the day came to a close, Lancaster Catholic students reflected on the impact it will make on the lives of pregnant women, new moms and children in their community.

“It demonstrates that we’re one giant community of Catholics. We just wanted to do something locally to reach out and show our support for mothers and their babies,” said Frank Essis. “It makes me happy to see so many students come together for this effort, and how the pro-life movement unites us.”

“I think today was a great opportunity to show younger students how they can serve and make a difference in the world,” said Aidan Graczyk.

For Aidan, the event highlighted the pro-life message through a local lens rather than a political one, shedding a light on women facing unplanned pregnancies within the local community. “I believe if people really think about people right here in their community, it would motivate them to get involved and help make an impact on their lives,” he said.

(Run for Resources photos by Tim Card, freelance photographer. Church photos by Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness.)

By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness

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