by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The powerful message that more than 320 eighth grade Catholic school students heard was this: Your life matters.
“God thinks that your story, your life, matters. It matters so much to him that he created it. . . . The cause of my life is not me,” said Father Luke Doyle, associate pastor at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Leawood. “Ultimately, the cause of my life and the cause of every human being’s life is God, who is a giver of life.”
This message taken from Pope John Paul II’s March 25, 1995, encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” (“The Gospel of Life”) was at the heart of the eighth grade Life Matters Day held Nov. 6 in the Keleher Conference Center of Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kansas.
The five-hour event, sponsored by the archdiocesan pro-life office, gathered the students from 11 Catholic schools in Johnson, Wyandotte and Leavenworth counties. The last such event was held in 2019, although other eighth grade pro-life events have been held for decades.
“We’re just coming off of Respect Life Month (October), and we were trying to hold a day of education and inspiration for our eighth graders on ‘The Gospel of Life’ message,” said Debra Niesen, lead consultant for archdiocesan pro-life ministries.
There were four key messages that Niesen wanted the eighth graders to take home with them. First, that they were created by a God who loves them. Second, that their life matters, and all human life has value. Third, that we as Christians are called to defend human life and dignity. Fourth, all the things the church is doing to serve the most vulnerable.
The day was divided into three segments: History, Pro-Life is Pro-Science and The Solution: Love & Hope.
During the second segment, the students listened to Dr. Angelique Pritchette, a board-certified specialist in family medicine, answer questions about the care of pregnant women and unborn children, as well as the mischaracterization of abortion as “health care.”
“[She] shared with the students real- life stories of patients — not just pregnant women, but families in different life situations,” said Niesen.
“There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding now in our culture about basic medical facts,” she continued, “such as the difference between a miscarriage and an abortion, and how doctors save both the baby and the mother when there are complications to a pregnancy. She gave a wonderful witness of what she and other pro-life doctors do on a daily basis.”
Near the end of the event, the students were divided into two groups, and the groups alternated praying a pro-life rosary in the large chapel and visiting exhibits at a pro-life ministry fair in the Savior dining room.
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