In the end, the snow didn't conquer. Life was victorious.

That was the message shared through the witness and energy of 1,000 teens who came to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis for a special Generation Life program hosted by the archdiocesan Catholic Youth Apostolate Jan. 23.

More than 2,200 teens were supposed to attend the 43rd annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., the day before, but the youth apostolate cancelled its annual Generation Life pilgrimage just days before a blizzard walloped the East Coast, dumping nearly two feet of snow or more in D.C. and surrounding areas.

Assistant vocations director Father Brian Fallon warmed up the teens at the cathedral, reminding them that being pro-life isn't just reserved for a few days in January. This is an opportunity to see how being pro-life translates into our everyday lives.

"This can't just be an event; this has to be a movement, and it starts with us," Father Fallon said.

Generation Life should be committed to ending the evil of abortion 365 days a year, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson said in his keynote address to the teens. He got the crowd fired up:

"Are we united in a common cause to bring an end to abortion? Are we united? Let me hear it!"

Loud applause and shouting ensued.

The archbishop shared a story of praying outside Planned Parenthood several years ago. It was a fall day; a young couple pulled up to the clinic, got out of their car and headed inside. Something moved him:

"I'm not sure what it was — maybe the sadness on their face, the despair, the child in the womb crying out ..." He paused; slightly choking up, he added, "I've never been able to forget that moment. Indeed, we must never forget that for the last 43 years millions and millions of couples have had to make that same sad decision. And millions and millions of infants were killed in the womb."

After a song and reflection, Archbishop Carlson led a Rosary procession to nearby Planned Parenthood. The crowd wrapped around the sidewalk from Forest Park Avenue and down Boyle Avenue, spilling out into the street, as the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department secured the area.

Standing among the crowd was Trevor Scott, a junior at St. Louis University High, who was holding a handmade poster with the message: "We need to stop killing each other."

Trevor was supposed to attend the March for Life for the first time with his school, but other plans prevented him from joining the group, who went ahead to D.C. He was at the cathedral with his youth group from St. Cletus Parish in St. Charles.

"We are in a culture of death," he said, "Whether it's abortion, or killing people in war, or not letting immigrants in. Abortion is the worst human rights crisis that we have ever had. We need to take a look at ourselves and see that we need to change our mindset and how we treat others and ourselves. God created us in His image; it seems not a lot of people are embracing that ideal."

Amy Sandschafer and Claudia Zuber made it all the way to D.C. with a group from Effingham, Ill., but the bus turned around and came home early on Friday, before the midday March began. They heard about the Generation Life program from their trip's coordinator and came to support the event.

"We're still here and we still support life even though we didn't do (the march) in D.C.," Amy said.

While there were some tears from his teens, St. Catherine Laboure youth minister Billy Bommarito said most everyone understood that it was the right decision to cancel the trip.

"A big part of why we're here is to try to cultivate a culture of life-giving attitudes," Bommarito said. "When it comes to the pro-life issue, it's important to me as a youth minister to communicate that it goes beyond abortion, so they can carry that out in their daily lives."

There was a lot of disbelief that the youth apostolate cancelled it's trip, said Office of Youth Ministry director Tom Lancia, even among the staff. But he said the positive calls, emails and texts from parents, youth ministers and friends reassured him the right decision was made.

"We spend six months planning something, and then to have it cancelled was disappointing, to say the least," Lancia said. "But this shouldn't dampen spirits, because the whole point of why we're here is to stand for life. And no matter if we're in D.C. or in St. Louis at home with our family, Christ calls us to stand for life — to be a voice for the voiceless." 

No votes yet