Andrew Boldt would have been in Washington D.C. this year for his first March for Life. But instead, he and his fellow eighth-graders at Our Lady School in Festus took to the streets of their hometown to march for unborn lives.
Carrying a large cross on the nearly two-mile walk Jan. 29 from Sacred Heart in Crystal City to St. Pius X High School in Fetus, Andrew cited a line from the Book of Proverbs (31:8-9), to “speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves,” he said. “Not only is that service to the unborn, but it is a service to the God I believe in. As the world goes on, a lot of people support (life) less. We need to stop killing people who can change the world. I always heard, what if a man who can cure cancer was aborted? We need more people to support pro-life” issues.
The march, which drew about 200 people, was organized by Students for Life at St. Pius X, and one of several ways in which teens from the Archdiocese of St. Louis put “love into action” serving their local communities. Other youth groups held fundraisers, learned more about pregnancy resource centers and participated in local marches.
This was the first major event for Students for Life at St. Pius, which formed this school year. Other activities have included praying in front of Planned Parenthood, praying the Rosary and writing messages in chalk across campus. Because of the pandemic and cancellation of the Generation Life pilgrimage to Washington, D.C., students wanted to do something to remember the 1973 Roe vs. Wade anniversary.
“Young people see that abortion is evil and we need to stand up for that,” said St. Pius senior Grace Halfmann, who organized the march with juniors Cheyanne Walt and Hannah Lika. “If you go to D.C. in any other year, you see so many young people flooding the streets. I take pride in that our generation is speaking up against this atrocity that is abortion.”
That involvement extends beyond marching and praying outside of the abortion clinic, the three students said, but also by listening to one another and how we carry ourselves in everyday life. “How we live will also show that we are pro-life, and being pro-life is joyful,” Hannah said.
Other participants included members of Catholic parishes and schools in the area. Miriam Rohe, a member of St. Joseph Parish in Imperial, brought three of her children to the march. Rohe said “we’ve got to represent life. My kids are passionate about abortion and stopping it. They get it and they want to stand for life. We want them to understand life begins at conception and is precious until the moment of natural death.” She also teaches them in age-appropriate ways what happens in an abortion and why someone might choose that — “so they can be compassionate toward that person and help them choose differently.”
Pro-life, whole life
Earlier in the week at Notre Dame High School, students received a visit from a representative of Thrive St. Louis. The area pregnancy resource center has four mobile units that provide free pregnancy and STD testing, ultrasounds and links to other resources, such as parenting/life skills classes, and referrals for housing, medical care, counseling, utility assistance and food.
“Getting them in the front door is enormous,” said Levi Hart, a gifts and investments officer with Thrive, said of women who are considering an abortion. “We set out to remove obstacles — the physical, emotional and spiritual needs are looked at.”
Notre Dame students also held a “Thrive Drive,” collecting baby items for the organization. Senior Danielle Ashabranner organized a similar diaper drive in December to benefit the St. Louis Area Diaper Bank. More than 10,000 diapers and $700 in cash was collected.
Danielle and her fellow senior classmates, Mary Newsham and Katie Machisen, said that being pro-life is about respecting human lives at all stages, from conception until natural death.
“I think sometimes there’s a stigma around being pro-life where they think it’s just abortion,” said Emily, who is interested in other life-related topics such as immigration. “My goal is expanding that to other areas of life.” She also commended pregnancy resource centers for supporting women after the birth of their child, and helping with some of the underlying issues that lead a woman to abortion — such as housing, jobs and education.
Many other activities and fundraisers were planned throughout the week to coincide with the Roe vs. Wade anniversary and March for Life. Eighth-graders at St. Justin Martyr School in Sunset Hills led a march Jan. 29, leading younger grades around the parking lot with signs. More than 200 participated in the event.
Teens at Assumption Parish in south St. Louis County raised more than $7,000 for the Loving Life Pregnancy Help Center of South County. And students at Rosati-Kain held an apparel/dress down fundraiser and materials drive for Jamaa Birth Village in Ferguson and watched the pro-life movie, “Unplanned.”