GREENVILLE—While she was staffing the door at the Teen Life Fest, Valerie Baronkin noticed a steady stream of teens that continued to trickle in even after the festival started.
“I found out later that the youth present were having so much fun they were texting their friends to come join them,” said Baronkin, the Piedmont Respect Life coordinator.
The pro-life celebration, held Oct. 1 at St. Joseph’s Catholic School, is sponsored by the Diocese of Charleston’s Office of Family Life and organized with youth ministers and Respect Life coordinators in the upstate. Approximately 150 teens attended.
“I thank you for being here today, to learn about the dignity of human life and how to protect it,” said Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone in his opening remarks.
He told the group that their generation would make a difference and encouraged them to follow their faith. The bishop also presented an award to the winner of the T-shirt contest, Rachel Thoma, which was accepted by her sister.
Claire Capelle, a senior at St. Joseph’s, spoke about her dream to open a maternity home in Greenville. Now she’s on a committee working on a feasibility study for just that thing.
“Don’t think you can’t make a difference or you are too young to share your dreams,” she said.
Capelle’s story had an immediate reaction from a junior high school student.
“When I heard Claire talk about her dream of building a maternity home, I was touched and felt called to help. Remembering the Scripture that says we should not bury our talents, I thought I could help with the construction since I have some experience with building,” said Oscar Lopez, who attends St. Mary Magdalene Church in Simpsonville.
Bob Rice, a nationally known singer, songwriter and speaker, weaved this year’s theme, “Life’s Greatest Treasure,” into his music sets. He spoke about the importance of living life to the fullest, which can be done only by doing it God’s way. Using humor, he explained why everyone is called to defend life.
“Think about it, the first person to recognize Jesus was St. John the Baptist in the womb, so how can someone say that an unborn baby doesn’t have rights,” he said. “God loves life, and things that are not of Jesus want to kill and destroy life.”
Rice challenged them to have the kind of youth group where pregnant young women will not be ostracized. He also shared what a gift his adopted son, Joseph, is to him and his family.
“I wish I could find his birth mother in Haiti and thank her because I can’t imagine my life without Joseph,” he said.
“The teens really liked the message and they liked Bob Rice,” said Joe Maggio, youth ministry director at St. Mary Magdalene. “These kinds of events are a great way to plant seeds. Even if a youth is not moved to act right now, this event connected to others like the Youth Mass and Rally in Columbia, Stand up for Life, the March for Life in D.C., all can help the seed grow and mature into a healthy plant.”