by Moira Cullings
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Allison Donohue concocted the perfect formula to draw a large number of young adults to a pro-life event.
Dynamic speakers, a chance to socialize with other young adults from the Kansas City area and a vibrant atmosphere, she imagined, would do the trick.
“I think people, especially young adults, are interested in [the pro-life movement],” said Donohue, pro-life consultant for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
“We just write them off a lot of times,” she added.
So, Donohue organized an event at the KC Wine Co. in Olathe similar to a Theology on Tap night, where young adults gather at either a local bar or restaurant to hear a Catholic speaker and for a Q&A session on the faith.
Members of Project Gabriel, the Wyandotte Pregnancy Clinic and the City on a Hill for Life group (a young adult pro-life group out of Kansas City, Missouri) were all on hand to answer questions and provide sign-up opportunities for those interested in volunteering in some pro-life capacity.
Father Andrew Mattingly of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph was the main speaker, and Donohue followed, both concluding the event with a Q&A session.
Around 100 young adults attended.
“I enjoyed the social part of getting to mingle with people,” said Alexis Childs, one of those attending. “I also enjoyed getting to visit several booths that had information about pro-life organizations around town and ways to get involved.
“I learned information that I was not aware of regarding pro-life initiatives around my city.”
“It’s encouraging to gather with other people my own age to see that my generation cares and wants to make a difference,” she added.
The event was part of a larger effort by the pro-life office to reach out to younger generations and help them become more active.
Included in that undertaking were the annual eighth-grade pro-life forums, one at St. Matthew School in Topeka and the other at Nativity School in Leawood.
The forums included a talk by Father Jaime Zarse, associate pastor of Christ the King in Topeka, music by Mikey Needleman and talks by two other guest speakers.
For John Michael Gyllenborg, an eighth-grader at Curé of Ars School in Leawood, listening to the guest speakers and how they have been affected by abortion was his favorite part of the day.
“I think pro-life events are crucial for kids my age to attend and experience,” he said. “Because the sooner we understand that life is a major gift from God, the sooner we will see that taking the gift of life from an innocent, conceived child living inside his or her mother really hurts not only the mother and her child, but the future of all of us.”
“Without abortion,” he added, “there would be so many more amazing kids out changing the world.”
The students participated in an activity in which bracelets of different colors were randomly distributed. Those that received the color white were asked to stay seated, a visual symbol of those who have been aborted.
Olivia Overlease, another eighth-grader from Curé, was deeply moved by this activity.
“Some of my extremely close friends had a white bracelet and stayed sitting,” she said. “It was hard to imagine what life would be like without these people.”
The forum gave the students a fresh perspective on the impact abortion has on those involved — both directly and indirectly.
“My favorite part of the forum was when we really thought about how the pro-life movement could affect our world,” said Overlease.
Jared Herzet, a middle-school science teacher at Curé, was inspired by the impact the forum had on his students.
“Some of [the students] could not stop talking about all the statistics that we learned about that day,” he said.
“There were a few that were just silent as we left and drove back to the school, and you could tell they were spiritually affected by the day and were praying,” he continued.
Herzet believes informing students about the significance of abortion should be done sooner rather than later.
“They need to know what and who to pray for when learning about and being confronted with this information,” he said.
“I hope they really saw how every decision they make can significantly impact their life in one way or another,” he concluded.
For volunteer opportunities or information about the efforts of the archdiocesan pro-life office, contact Allison Donohue by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (913) 647-0350.