COLUMBIA—Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone praised young people for being willing to publicly stand up for the sanctity of life at the Catholic Youth Rally for Life held Jan. 16.
More than 650 Catholic youth converged at the St. Joseph gymnasium for a morning of music, prayer, guest speakers and a special Mass celebrated by the bishop. Bishop Guglielmone started the event by complimenting youth and adults who were willing to get up extra early to travel to the event, which started at 9 a.m.
This was the second year for the rally, which is meant to help young people meet other young Catholics dedicated to the pro-life cause.
One of the keynote speakers was Father Andrew J. Trapp, parochial vicar at St. Michael Church in Garden City.
“In our culture, people are being told that you can kill a baby if it’s not convenient,” Father Trapp said. “We forget that baby is a person with a future, a person who is totally irreplaceable.”
Father Trapp said that while he was in the seminary in Ohio, he and his fellow seminarians would rise early each Saturday morning to pray and say the rosary outside a local abortion clinic.
“I thought about the fact that over the year we were there, probably thousands of babies died at that clinic,” he said. “That’s just one clinic in one city, and every day there are thousands and thousands of other babies dying when they don’t have to.”
He also talked about his work at a healing ministry with women who suffered mental anguish after abortion, “sometimes decades after the abortion. They would say they feel like there’s a wall between them and God.”
Father Trapp urged the young people to pray not only for the unborn, but also for women who are considering abortion or are going through post-abortion trauma. He also urged them to live a pure life, to respect the gift of human sexuality and look out for chances to spread the pro-life message to people they meet in daily life.
Jennifer Grant, a speaker from St. Mary Help of Christians Church in Aiken, promoted a formula she came up with called JPAC — Jesus, Prayer, Action, Change — in order to spread the message about the value of life.
At the beginning of his homily, Bishop Guglielmone asked several youth to tell him why they had come to the rally and march. Some said they had a desire to learn more about their faith and grow closer to God, while several others said they wanted to stand up for life because the most defenseless people, including unborn children, the ill and the elderly, often can’t speak up for themselves.
Bishop Guglielmone told a story about a young woman he knew while serving as pastor at a New York parish. The woman came to him and said she wanted to pursue a vocation with the Sisters of Life, an order of nuns dedicated to prayer and working on life issues, because a friend had an abortion and suffered depression for years afterward. He said her choice was just one of the more dramatic ways a faithful Catholic can stand up for church teachings on life issues.
“We’re all called as baptized Catholic Christians to stand up for what we believe in,” he said. “In order to do that, we have to have a close relationship with God. And faith itself is not enough. You have to do something with the faith that you have. What we’re doing today is showing the world and giving witness that there is an option, we’re saying that people should choose life, which is the good thing.”
The bishop told the young people to pray for the gift of courage.
“It’s difficult in this society to take the position you are taking,” he said. “You may even hear negative things from friends who wonder why we continue to press the issue of life. I hope you live good personal lives of chastity, and seek support and affirmation from the hundreds of other who believe exactly what you believe.”
Bishop Guglielmone also said everyone needs to pray for the gift of kindness and compassion as they spread the pro-life message.
“Sometimes when we feel strongly about a cause, we forget that people who oppose us are also people of God,” he said. “We must never, in presenting what we believe, forget that we have to treat others with compassion.”