by Moira Cullings
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Over 3,000 high school students heard one resounding message the week of Feb. 20:
Your life matters.
Allison Donohue, pro-life consultant for the archdiocese, drove that point home during her presentation on the pro-life movement as part of Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann’s annual Speaker Series.
She presented the topic at all seven of the archdiocesan high schools.
“Because it’s the archbishop’s Speaker Series, we bring in folks with topics that are really close to the archbishop’s heart,” said Deacon Dana Nearmyer, secretary of the archdiocesan evangelization division.
“This year, with [Donohue] coming into the office and bringing a [fresh] view of pro-life, we wanted students to know how they could engage in the pro-life movement,” he said.
That movement goes beyond anti-abortion, added Deacon Nearmyer.
Donohue covered a wider range of topics, including homelessness, physician- assisted suicide, euthanasia and teen suicide.
She spoke on common challenges high school students face, including self-doubt and acceptance.
“I think [the students] thought the talk was going to be focused on the issue of abortion,” said Bill Creach, director of campus ministry and theology department chair at Bishop Miege High School in Roeland Park.
“I think [Donohue’s] message of respecting all life and addressing some key issues that are relevant to teenagers caught them off guard in a good way and gave them a lot to think about,” he said.
Incorporating visuals to make the topics come alive, Donohue was able to capture the attention of her young audience.
And a particularly poignant part of the presentation involved the faculty and staff at each school wearing T-shirts that said “You Matter” on the front and “All Life Matters” on the back.
At the end of the presentation, they stood together in front of their student body.
“[Donohue] asked the teachers to stand to show [the students] that they were surrounded by a network of people that cared,” said Deacon Nearmyer.
The students were then asked to pray over their teachers to demonstrate that everyone’s life is important.
After the assembly, the conversation Donohue sparked continued in the classrooms, said Creach.
“I think it was an important message, but it also helped that our students heard it from a young person,” he said.
“[Donohue’s] energy and speaking style helped get her message across to students,” he said.
Deacon Nearmyer hopes the presentation motivated the students on a deeper level than what they’ve typically felt from similar talks.
“There can be financial issues and sociological issues [people face],” he said, “but the Lord is bigger than that.
“We’ve got to be ready to partner with and help people.”