All-night celebration of faith culminates in pro-life march
By David Karas | Correspondent
In the waning hours of a frigid Sunday evening, the lights were on at Red Bank Catholic High School.
While most teens were catching up on rest or putting the finishing touches on their homework assignments for the week, about 95 high school students gathered for an all-night celebration of life, leading up to a trip to Washington to take part in the annual March for Life.
“The kids love coming together – a whole group of kids bonded over this issue,” said Deb Flego, religion teacher and moderator for Caseys for Life, a pro-life student organization at RBC.
Flego helped to put together an evening of speakers, activities and bonding before the annual movement in the nation’s capital.
Students donning sweatpants and brandishing sleeping bags poured into the school around 9 p.m. to listen to speakers and spend time with their peers. There were group discussions, and an open gym for some fun in between.
And at 4 a.m., they hit the road for Washington, catching a morning Mass in the city before joining others from the Diocese of Trenton and beyond for the march.
“It’s such a good feeling to see everyone together,” said senior Natalie Ehret, who was participating in the march for the second time. “You feel like you are part of something larger.”
It was the second year that the student organization hosted the all-night event. Organizers came up with the concept to help out the parents of students interested in attending the march by saving them from having to drive to the school for a 4 a.m. departure. However, the teens loved the bonding opportunities so much that the idea stuck.
“It’s kind of like a mini-retreat,” said Flego. “This is a way to take what happens in the classroom and do something positive about it.”
Students had the opportunity to hear from speakers in a variety of formats. While campus minister, Charles Gates, held a forum that allowed for ample question and answer periods, another speaker, Karyn Fusco, shared her personal story.
Fusco told the students about her journey after having an abortion at age 16, and how she continues to struggle with the after effects.
Gates said that such exposure to the discussion is important, especially for high school-aged students.
“When the going gets tough, I want to make sure they are there,” he said, emphasizing the importance of awareness and understanding as the teens learn more about the issue.
He also said that the all-night program allows the teens to see first-hand that they are not alone in living their faith. While in their social circles they might feel isolated in their system of beliefs, the event allows them to realize they are truly surrounded by others who share their faith.
Junior Alex Talbot knew exactly what Gates was talking about. When asked about his favorite part of attending the evening program and march, Talbot said it was spending time with a group of close friends, and living their faith.
Sarah Dnistrian, junior and president of Caseys for Life, was preparing for her second March for Life.
“Seeing all of the people there was really overwhelming,” she said of her first experience there.
She was excited to share the experience with newcomers, and said that the evening program this year featured new speakers and more activities.
Flego was simply impressed with the turnout.
“I never thought we would have 90 students and chaperones who would want to go,” she said. “It’s contagious. It’s spreading.”
She said that the group has plenty of time to bond and enjoy themselves, but that their reason for traveling to the nation’s capital is clear.
“We are not just going to Washington to hang out,” she said. “We know why we are going.”[[In-content Ad]]