October 8, 2021

Teens ‘never lose their cool’ in engaging peers on pro-life issues

By Natalie Hoefer

From left, Maria Thomas, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson and Erik EigenbrodMaria Thomas, a junior at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, “always [says] I entered Brebeuf at the right time, because that was the year a junior at the time was starting a Right to Life Club at Brebeuf.”

Maria became the club’s co-president that year, and has remained so since.

Her efforts and those of the club’s co-president Erik Eigenbrod earned each of them this year’s archdiocesan Our Lady of Guadalupe Youth Pro-Life Award, which they received from Archbishop Charles C. Thompson during the annual archdiocesan Respect Life Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Oct. 3.

The person who nominated the two noted on the nomination form that Maria and Erik “recognize service as a crucial component of the Right to Life movement. They have planned and organized a drive to support expectant mothers [at the Women’s Care Center in Indianapolis] and [offer] prayer intentions for all of respect life issues. They pray at Planned Parenthood centers and actively engage their peers in discussions about legislation.”

Additionally, said Maria, the club has been active in “local advocacy in our community by participating in Students for Life’s door-knocking Campaign for Abortion-free Cities.

The teens also have led the Brebeuf Right to Life Club members in its involvement in the local Indiana March for Life, with hopes of attending the National March for Life in January, said Maria.

The nominating person noted that “during weekly club meetings, Maria and Erik take turns teaching pro-life apologetics, where they teach different pro-life evidence and how to defend possible pro-choice responses.

“The dignity of human life is front and center in every argument. They never lose their cool and always promote life.”

It might be easy for the teens to “lose their cool” during the club’s culminating event—the event they spend nearly every weekly meeting preparing for: the annual inter-club pro-life dialogue with the school’s Young Republicans and Young Democrats clubs.

Instead, Maria and Erik insist on civility and respect during the dialogue event.

“We want to make sure that people, whatever opinion they have, are aware that this is the pro-life position on all these issues, these are the pro-life arguments, this is the pro-life response to [questions like], ‘What do you think about this exception? What do you think about this specific case?’ ” said Maria. “We want to make sure that people are at least aware of these arguments, because the majority of the culture is not pro-life.”

Erik, a member of St. Joseph Parish in Lebanon, Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese, has been involved in the club since his freshman year.

“About one to two months into my freshman year I went to a [Right to Life Club] meeting,” he recalled. “Maria caught me up on the arguments and I started going regularly.

“I thought the arguments were fascinating, and I knew how much good work could be done from what the pro-life club does.”

The sophomore said he’s “always been pro-life because of my family, but I think it was sixth grade when I prayed at the abortion clinic in Indianapolis at Planned Parenthood, and that’s when I really found out about this issue. From that point on, I knew it was important.”

He said he was “shocked” to learn that he and Maria had been selected as the 2021 Our Lady of Guadalupe Pro-Life Youth Award winners.

“I didn’t even know we were in the running!” he said.

Maria agreed. The member of St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis said learning about the award “was a surprise and really exciting.”

Erik gives credit for receiving the award to his co-president.

“I know I wouldn’t be getting this award without Maria,” he said. “She does an amazing job and does a lot of hard work for the club.”

(For blog posts and more information about the Brebeuf Right to Life Club, go to bjpsrtl.weebly.com.)

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