January 29, 2016


Young people, thank you for your witness of faith

Students attended a Jan. 22 Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis marking the 43th anniversary of the tragic Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which legalized abortion on demand across the United States. After the liturgy, they participated in a prayerful procession along Meridian and Pennsylvania streets. (See a gallery of photos from the event here)

Other young people took part in peaceful, prayerful, pro-life gatherings that same day in Terre Haute and Bloomington.

And we can’t forget the students from central and southern Indiana who journeyed to Washington to participate in the annual March for Life on Jan. 22 to show their support for all life—from conception to natural death.

The groups provide more evidence that our young people are eager to change hearts and build a culture of life.

Though many secular media outlets in recent years have spent little time focusing on the Jan. 22 anniversary and its meaning for people of faith, God’s providence provided a unique news hook this year when pilgrims returning from the Washington march—including two groups from the archdiocese— were among the hundreds stuck on the Pennsylvania Turnpike after a traffic backup left vehicles and their passengers stranded for hours. Heavy snow from Winter Storm Jonas resulted in jackknifed semitrailers blocking the highway, making it impossible for others to continue their journeys.

One archdiocesan group included students and chaperones from Bishop Chatard and Cathedral high schools in Indianapolis, as well as students from five other schools in the Indianapolis North Deanery.

A second pilgrimage group was led by Father Shaun Whittington, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Morris and St. Nicholas Parish in Ripley County.

In the process, young people were able, thanks to the media in some cases, to demonstrate their faith in unexpected ways.

High school students from the Archdiocese of Omaha, Neb., built a make-shift altar out of snow on the turnpike so a priest could celebrate Mass for them.

Young people from central and southern Indiana were concerned about people in cars around them. Through their actions, they lived out the corporal works of mercy by helping neighbors in need.

“Our students were looking out the windows, and when they would see a car’s headlights go out in the middle of the night, they would walk to the front of the bus and say, ‘We have heat and they keep turning their car off. Can we go out and give them our blankets?’ ” recalled Ann Collins, administrator of youth ministry at Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, who was a chaperone on the pilgrimage for Indianapolis North Deanery students. “They were kind. They knew that they were marching for life.

“It was all life—whether you were an unborn baby or a stranded motorist. Their purpose was to protect life. And they did. They were concerned about everyone around them.”

Colleen Dietz, a junior at the Oldenburg Academy of the Immaculate Conception in Oldenburg and a member of St. Nicholas Parish, said her faith helped her cope with the stress of being stuck on the turnpike.

“It was important for us to remember that we’re standing up for life,” she said. “We’re trying to get an end to abortion. And that comes with a consequence sometimes. This time, we were willing to sit through [being stranded], and we all made it out all right. We trusted in God, and everything was OK.”

Winter Storm Jonas and its two to three feet of snow may have paralyzed much of the central Atlantic region, but it did little to deter the spirits of our young people.

As witnessed in Indianapolis, Bloomington, Terre Haute and especially on a snow-covered highway in Pennsylvania last weekend, they showed us that life’s challenges can present opportunities to live out the faith.

We applaud them, and thank them for their witness.

—Mike Krokos

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