October 28, 2011

Students support local 40 Days for Life campaign

Roncalli High School freshman football team members, from left, Ethan Briggeman, David Schott, Tyler Schoettle, Joe Gervasio and Eli Smith participate in the 40 Days for Life youth rally on Oct. 15 in front of the Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Indianapolis. (Photo by Mary Ann Garber)

Roncalli High School freshman football team members, from left, Ethan Briggeman, David Schott, Tyler Schoettle, Joe Gervasio and Eli Smith participate in the 40 Days for Life youth rally on Oct. 15 in front of the Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Indianapolis. (Photo by Mary Ann Garber)

By Mary Ann Garber

Midway through the fall 40 Days for Life campaign in central and southern Indiana, pro-life supporters in the archdiocese are thanking God for saving the lives of nine unborn babies so far.

Their mothers are experiencing crisis pregnancies, and decided not to have an abortion after talking with pro-life sidewalk counselors then receiving help from Project Gabriel volunteers.

On Oct. 25—Day 28 of the biannual pro-life prayer vigil—40 Days for Life coordinators in the archdiocese said three unborn babies have been saved outside an abortion center in Bloomington, and six preborn babies are confirmed as “saves” in front of the Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Indianapolis.

They said the international 40 Days for Life fall prayer vigil list of lives saved totaled 361 unborn babies as of Oct. 25.

Central Indiana prayer vigil coordinators organized a pro-life youth rally and balloon release on Oct. 15 at the state’s largest abortion center at 8590 N. Georgetown Road in Indianapolis.

Roncalli High School’s freshman football team and cheerleaders—dressed in their red, white and blue uniforms—were among about 200 high school and grade school students and adults who prayed the rosary beside a huge banner that read “Rebels 4 Life.”

Several hundred pink and blue helium-filled balloons released by the students represented the babies’ lives that are normally lost in abortions during a 40-day period at that Planned Parenthood facility.

Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ parishioner Kim Kramer of Indianapolis, a fourth-grader at South Creek Elementary School, said after the prayer rally that “it means a lot to me” to participate in the pro-life vigil in front of the abortion center.

“I really think that everyone should love Jesus,” Kim said, “and realize that aborting a baby is murder.”

Kim was wearing a pro-life T-shirt that read “A baby—A beautiful choice.”

After praying the rosary and helping release the pastel-colored balloons, some of Roncalli High School’s cheerleaders led the students and adults in a loud chant that expressed their pro-life views.

“We love babies! Yes we do,” they yelled. “We love babies! How about you?”

Freshman cheerleader Alexis Pacuch, a member of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood, said she felt “very strong emotions” during the prayer rally.

“We should not kill babies,” Alexis said. “It’s murder, and I think people should get arrested for it.”

Roncalli freshman cheerleader Julie Harlow, also from Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish, said it was “an eye-opening experience” to pray in front of the building where babies are killed in abortion.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Julie said. “It’s so sad. I’ve been raised in the Catholic Church, and I’ve been taught that abortion is wrong. Now I finally get to help rally against it.”

Tim O’Donnell, a member of St. John Vianney Parish in Fishers, Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese, is the 40 Days for Life fall coordinator for central Indiana.

As he helped dismantle the sound equipment after the rally, O’Donnell said the large crowd “filled me with hope and joy” because so many teenagers participated on a Saturday morning.

“I have a lot of confidence that, as we continue the pro-life battle, the next generation—often referred to as the John Paul II generation—will help us,” he said. “They understand the importance of the pro-life movement. I’m very happy that they were here, and I’m filled with hope that they will help us bring an end to abortion.”

Catholic schools and religious education programs do a good job of teaching young people that “every human being is made in the image and likeness of God,” O’Donnell said, “and every person has an immortal soul, and a destiny to be with God in heaven for all eternity.”

In the midst of the secular culture of death, he said, it’s very encouraging that Catholic teenagers and children are willing to stand up for the rights of the unborn.

“In this country, where life is often considered disposable and expendable by the culture of death, it’s really a countercultural event that we held here today with this huge rally,” O’Donnell said. “These young people are affirming life through their own witness for the love of Christ.”

(For more information about the 40 Days for Life fall prayer vigil in central Indiana and ways to volunteer at several locations, log on to the campaign’s website at http://www.40daysforlife.com/INDIANAPOLIS.)

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