June 14, 2013

Reflection / Mike Krokos

‘I chose life’: A story that’s always worth sharing

Mike KrokosThe story is one many of us have heard. Or we may know someone who has experienced it firsthand.

A high school girl gets caught up in the wrong crowd, makes a series of bad choices, and becomes pregnant.

She’s an honors student enrolled at an area Catholic high school, but now the teenager faces one of the most important decisions in her young life: What do I do?

As someone who’s worked for Catholic publications for the better part of 15 years, I’ve always thought it worthwhile to share certain stories with readers.

This was one of them.

For me, it was a story of how a family, a high school faculty and its students supported an unwed young mother in her unplanned pregnancy.

The story was published years ago in another newspaper where I was employed. I recently found a copy of the feature and reread it, from beginning to end.

She and her family initially think abortion is the only option. After some prayerful soul searching and a visit to an abortion clinic, they have second thoughts. A visit to a crisis pregnancy center affirms the teenager and her family’s decision to keep the baby. With her family and the school’s support, the teenager is able to carry her pregnancy to term, keep the baby, and graduate from high school—with honors—and go on to attend college.

I remembered how the poignant, faith-filled piece written by a fellow staff person drew praise from subscribers near and far.

Well, almost everyone.

I’ll never forget the day I was pulled aside at a parish social gathering by an acquaintance who wanted to talk to me about the story, whose headline read: “I chose life.”

As a wife and mother, she wanted to let me know in no uncertain terms how “inappropriate” she thought that story was for a Catholic publication.

Her take? We were glorifying teen pregnancy and shedding a positive light on the young girl’s situation. She was, in this person eyes, an unwed mother who made a bad life choice.

Yes, our staff knew what the Church teaches about chastity, and how “every person is called to lead a chaste life, each according to his particular state of life” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2394).

But we also felt there was a wonderful story of faith to share, how a young girl and her family didn’t fall victim to the culture of death. They instead chose to bring new life into the world.

I must admit, I was taken aback as I tried to compose a response to my acquaintance’s criticism but, finally, with God’s grace, I was able to speak in a clear, measured tone as I addressed her.

“The point of the story,” I explained, “was that this young teenage mom chose life.” For me, it was that simple.

She faced a tremendous challenge as a young, unwed mother yet to finish high school. She knew there were different ways to address her situation. She could have aborted her child. She did not.

She chose l-i-f-e.

Though I didn’t emphatically spell my response out at the time, I look back at that situation and wonder how many hearts—and minds—were changed because of a young, teenage girl’s courageous decision to bring her baby into the world.

Yes, there were challenges, but that teenager embraced what our faith teaches us—that all life is sacred, from conception until natural death.

I believe that is a story our faith encourages us to share.

(Mike Krokos is editor of The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.)

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