October 2, 2009

Archdiocese honors pro-life supporters for their work

By Mary Ann Wyand

A Bloomington pro-life volunteer and two central Indiana teenagers who are members of the Archdiocesan Youth for Life organization will be honored for their distinguished service to the cause of life at the conclusion of the Respect Life Sunday Mass, which begins at 1 p.m. on Oct. 4 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

St. Paul Catholic Center parishioner Christopher Payne, a longtime parish pro-life committee member, will receive the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Respect Life Award.

Alea Bowling, a member of St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, and Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary parishioner Branden Stanley of Danville, will be recognized with Our Lady of Guadalupe Pro-Life Youth Awards.

Dominican Father Robert Keller, pastor of St. Paul Catholic Center in Bloomington, said Payne is devoted to helping women who are experiencing crisis pregnancies to choose life for their babies.

“[Payne] is the point person for [the parish] in matters of supporting the Crisis Pregnancy Center [CPC] in Bloomington,” Father Keller said. “He leads our fund drives to support the CPC each year. The focus of his work is toward promoting options of life for young pregnant women. … He has an incredible grasp of the whole range of life issues espoused by the Church—the ‘seamless garment.’ He perceives how the practical application of these positions is difficult, especially in a pluralistic society. He does not shirk from this difficulty.”

A 16-year member of the parish, Payne is a technical services staff member at Indiana University. He and his wife, Nicola, have a 9-year-old daughter, Sarah.

Payne said he feels called to defend the sanctity of life as a sacred gift from God, and a responsibility to consistently communicate a message of respect for all life.

“My wife and I have worked through the Gabriel Project and Crisis Pregnancy Center to help some area women who were facing crisis pregnancies or had really young children, and were in a bind and needed help,” Payne said. “… [Our parish pro-life committee] recently had a presentation on end-of-life issues. We value all life. We think all these things are important. … For me personally, abortion is the strongest of these [pro-life issues] because the numbers are so overwhelming and the victims are the most innocent.”

Msgr. Joseph F. Schaedel, vicar general, said Branden and Alea are very deserving of the pro-life youth award.

“Both represent a growing number of young people who are very aware of the pro-life cause and all that it implies,” Msgr. Schaedel said. “Both Branden and Alea are from outstanding Catholic families, grounded in their faith and willing to stand against so many of the false values [that] our culture tends to promote. I am proud of both of them. They are brave young people and an inspiration to so many other young people.”

A home-schooled senior, Alea said she was taught during her childhood years that all life is precious so she enthusiastically spreads the pro-life message to others.

The daughter of Charles and Jeannette Bowling, Alea is a member of the St. Mark Parish Choir. She plans to study music at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., next year.

Alea is the oldest of six children, and helps her parents care for her younger siblings, including her 5-year-old sister, Audra, who has been diagnosed with Jobert’s Syndrome, a neurological disability.

For several years, Alea has volunteered as a Birthline assistant at the Archbishop O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis.

She also has participated in the national March for Life in Washington and 40 Days for Life prayer vigils in Indianapolis.

As president of the Archdiocesan Youth for Life, Alea has helped shape the organization’s mission through her effective leadership. She also is a founding member of the Youth of Our Lady of America group at Holy Rosary Parish.

To nourish her faith, Alea attended the archdiocesan Consumed youth retreat, which focuses on the Eucharist, and One Bread, One Cup, a liturgical conference. She plans to participate in the National Catholic Youth Conference in November.

Alea said she feels blessed to have a wonderful family, and grateful that her parents have shaped her life and faith in positive ways.

“As a young Catholic, I support the pro-life cause wholeheartedly,” Alea said, “and I want to help bring the pro-life message to as many people as possible.”

Also a home-schooled senior, Branden said his faith and family are very important to him.

The son of Jay and Elana Stanley, Branden is the oldest of three children. His siblings were adopted from Russia.

At Holy Rosary Church, he is a regular altar server for the extraordinary form of the Mass celebrated in Latin and, when needed, for liturgies celebrated in English.

As a teenager, Branden founded a media production company. Through Starlight Media Productions, he has sought to bring strong Catholic and pro-life values into a world that he describes as “wrought with indecent means of entertainment.”

Branden has created promotional videos and documentaries for the national March for Life, Consumed retreat, 40 Days for Life prayer vigils, Pope Benedict XVI’s 2008 visit to New York and Holy Rosary Parish’s centennial anniversary.

“Through Starlight Media Productions,” he said, “I hope to prove that media can indeed be entertaining without compromising one’s faith and morality.”

He plans to study telecommunications in college next year.

As vice president of the Archdiocesan Youth for Life organization, his leadership helped launch the group in new directions.

Branden also is a founding member of the Youth of Our Lady of America at Holy Rosary Parish. He has participated in the archdiocesan Consumed retreat, and plans to attend the national March for Life and rally in Washington in January.

“If one truly knows the great evil brought about by abortion,” Branden said, “he or she cannot help but fight for life.” †

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