Red Bank Catholic High School’s pro-life club, Caseys4Life, take part in the 2017 March for Life. The Caseys will join dozens of students from around the Diocese at this year’s march, which organizers say reinforces in young people the importance of not shying away from dignity-of-life causes. Photo courtesy of Deb Flego

Red Bank Catholic High School’s pro-life club, Caseys4Life, take part in the 2017 March for Life. The Caseys will join dozens of students from around the Diocese at this year’s march, which organizers say reinforces in young people the importance of not shying away from dignity-of-life causes. Photo courtesy of Deb Flego

By Rose O’Connor | Correspondent

Among the tens of thousands heading to the nation’s capital for the 45th annual March for Life will be high school students from the Diocese of Trenton on a mission – to give witness to the dignity of human life from conception until natural death.

While buses leaving from local parishes and schools will carry students to the same destination for ultimately the same cause, the journey each group will take to get there is as unique as the school communities themselves.

Students from Red Bank Catholic High School have participated in the March for Life since 2011.

“The students really are the ones who encourage each other to attend. It’s very cool, as a teacher, watching this evolve,” said Deborah Flego, religion teacher and moderator of the school’s Respect Life club, Caseys4Life.

Caroline Fortier, a junior and co-president of the pro-life club, will be attending the march for the second time. She attended last year as well as the 2016 Rally for Life in Trenton.

“Seeing hundreds of thousands of people get together under one strong belief in life is truly beautiful,” she said. “An even better feeling is knowing that I am a part of this cause. Attending the march for me is both a religious and moral journey. Life is a gift from God, and I have known that since I was extremely young.”

Fellow Caseys4Life member Elizabeth Forsyth is also looking forward to the March. “This March brings awareness to all pro-life issues in this world. The March for Life is extremely fulfilling and inspiring to me, and I always leave feeling so happy.”

Personal Faith Development

At Holy Cross Academy, Delran, Father Christopher Colavito, chaplain, has spent six months organizing the annual pro-life event.

“Last year, we took eight kids and went with St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Cinnaminson. The kids were so excited and amazed by the amount of teens that were there from all across the country.  So this year we wanted to expand it and make it a two-day event,” he explained.

The students will travel Jan. 18 to Washington and spend the night in St. Mary’s Seminary and University, Baltimore, where Father Colavito was a seminarian. They will have a Holy Hour for Life and hopefully attend the Youth Rally and Mass for Life the next morning in the Capital One Arena in Washington.

“It’s good for the kids to see and experience so many other pro-lifers expressing the views that life and the dignity of life is of the utmost importance and to not be afraid to express this view publicly,” Father Colavito said.

Kyle Holler, a sophomore in the school, will attend the march for the third year in a row. She believes it continues to have a positive impact on the pro-life cause and for the personal faith development of those who attend.

“I believe the march has a big impact on women’s decisions on whether or not they should have an abortion,” Holler said. “Spiritually, this march reminds others that God creates everything and everything God creates has the right to live. I know that the march has changed many women’s decisions about abortions and that the march is responsible for many lives that came into the world.”

While members of the Lancers For Life, the pro-life group of which Holler is a part, will be attending, the Holy Cross community ensured that all students who wanted to attend would be able to participate.

“We will have 10 students from each class and will take five boys and five girls. We want there to be a nice diversity among the students attending,” Father Colavito said.

‘A Voice to the Voiceless’

Also attending the march will be students from Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville, who will join neighboring parish St. Paul, Princeton, and travel to Washington on a bus supplied by the Knights of Columbus Council #636.

“This is more like a pilgrimage. It’s peaceful and prayerful,” said Eileen Hart, religion teacher and moderator of the Celebrating Life Club in Notre Dame. “There’s a sense of solidarity seeing all the buses head to Washington for the same cause – and that is to give a voice for the voiceless and speak for the unborn.”

Hart said the school community will travel to the House of Representatives, where U.S. Congressman Chris Smith from New Jersey’s 4th Congressional District will be hosting a reception.

“This is a great opportunity for the students to see how we can affect change, not only through prayer, but also through legislation,” she noted.

Hart continued. “The students also see that many people, probably most people, are under the age of 30, from all over the country, but all there for the same reason.”

And that reason is why Julianna Okupski, a Notre Dame senior and founder of the Celebrating Life Club, will be attending the march with her family, something she has done since she was seven years old. 

“The March for Life is an incredible experience,” Okupski said. “Walking alongside my family, I am taken back by the sacredness and beauty of life. All people are deserving at a chance of dignity and life. The March for Life is an opportunity for people to come together and be the voice for those who cannot defend themselves.”

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March for Life an opportunity for witness in young adults