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Generation Life St. Louis Pilgrimage

So What Now?

By Katie Reitano | intern with the Office of Youth Ministry

It has now been a little over 2 weeks since the Generation Life pilgrimage to Washington DC.  Our pilgrimage group joined hundreds of thousands of other prolife activists to March for Life. This is a major event for people to stand for life, but how do you take this energy and motivation back home? What do you do when you get back home and start going about your daily routine again? How can you stand for life again?

Ash Wednesday is next week, which marks the beginning of the Lenten season. Lent is a period for Christians to participate in reflection, penance, and fasting.  Most times, one’s penance is an act of self-denial, such as giving up TV, a video game, chocolate, etc. But an act of penance can be more than just denying a treat for yourself.  What if you sacrificed some time this Lenten season to stand for life and be a witness for those who cannot speak for themselves?

During Lent, we have the opportunity to do this in our very own community. 40 Days for Life is a community based campaign that encourages people to help end abortion through prayer, fasting, and peaceful vigil.  Saint Louis is one of many cities across the country that participates in this national campaign to helping our community.  Reared by Coalition for Life St. Louis, the campaign invites churches, youth groups, and individuals to pray outside of Planned Parenthood on Forest Park Avenue.

So I leave you with a challenge. Will you take what you received and learned from the Generation Life pilgrimage and help make a difference in our St. Louis community? Will you be a witness to Christ and His forgiveness and healing?

For more information about the 40 Days for Life Campaign, visit 40DaysforLife.com for information about the national campaign or CoalitionforLifeSTL.com for information about getting involved in the St. Louis campaign.

Reliving #GenLifeSTL

By Laura Dieckhoff | Intern, Office of Youth Ministry

Hi everyone! I am an intern in the Office of Youth Ministry for the Spring 2015 semester. In my second week at the office, I had the privilege to travel halfway across the country for our annual Generation Life pilgrimage. I joined just about 2,000 wonderful teens, young adults, staff, and volunteers as we marched for LIFE!

Maybe you didn’t pack your bags and head out to Washington D.C. with us, or perhaps you did and had so much fun that you already need a trip down memory lane. Either way, here’s a recap:

IMG_20150122_142154_009Fellowship: Eighteen hours on a crowded bus can bring about an opportunity to get to know those around you. If I’m sitting next to someone for that long and don’t learn anything about them, I am definitely not my outgoing mother’s daughter. Everyone who attends GenLifeSTL has different motivations, but our passion unites us (as well as our desire to find a comfortable sleeping position while sitting upright). We spent time together in prayer, in protest and in longing to make a difference.

Advocacy: Attendees hopped off the buses and gathered at the National Mall for the Pro-Life Rally and the March for Life and showed everyone they truly are the pro-life generation. They put faith into practice as they walked alongside hundreds of thousands of people to the steps of the Supreme court. Their dedication, however, did not end there. Speakers and presentations throughout the weekend highlighted the fact that the pro-life movement is not a one day event, but a continuous commitment to speak up for the sanctity of all lives.

Spiritual Renewal: Masses throughout the weekend, adoration and reconciliation allowed us to take a step back during our time at the nation’s capitol. Archbishop Robert Carlson presided over Thursday evening Mass and the weekend closed with Mass at the National Shrine with Bishop Rice. We listened for the ways in which God is calling each one of us to promote life and were reminded that our mission would not end when we returned home.

IMG_20150122_134402_700-1Exploration and Fun: Groups had the opportunity to explore Washington DC and all it has to offer. On Saturday morning, prayer services were held at some of our nation’s national monuments and memorials before touring throughout the day. Programming in the evenings provided lots of laughs alongside powerful messages.

It is now nine days post-pilgrimage but your trip should not be forgotten. It is in living each day with intention that you will effect change and in loving ALL lives that you can live the Gospel as we are called by Jesus Christ. Do not hesitate to share your experiences with others; it is through those interactions that we put the issue of abortion on people’s hearts and minds.

If you didn’t attend GenLifeSTL this year I encourage you to learn more about our keynote speakers, the Sisters of Life and Ryan Bomberger, founder of The Radiance Foundation and the Too Many Aborted campaign.

God forgives: my pro-life journey

By Colleen Gosser | Junior at Bishop DuBourg High School

My story of becoming truly pro-life is rather unconventional because it doesn’t start at the March for Life. It started in May 2014 when my mom told me she was pregnant with what would be my eighth sibling…  and I reacted in the worst possible way.

To this day I do not know what came over me- it’s not like I wasn’t comfortable in my already large family, but all I could think about was how perfect strangers would make judgments, and how my life would be turned upside down in the next few months.

I soon came to terms with having a baby sibling, only for it to be snatched away from me by an unexpected miscarriage. A deep relationship with God seemed unattainable because all I felt was guilt and confusion.

I’m telling my story because I think it can help other people come to terms with mistakes they’ve made in the past. I would do anything to change my attitude that day in May, but I can’t turn back the clock. I’m telling this story, not to make people sad, but to help them realize what it means to truly be pro life, because up until that moment I didn’t really know either.

Colleen and her twin sister Katie, posed with friends and Archbishop Carlson at the 2015 March for Life.

Colleen and her twin sister Katie, posed with friends and Archbishop Carlson at the 2015 March for Life.

I knew that abortion was bad and that it killed a beating heart. But I didn’t appreciate the precious lives around me, even that of my little brother or sister. It wasn’t until at a Steubenville conference where God spoke to me (not in Morgan Freeman’s voice but through a man standing on the stage with a strange plaid suit coat) that I actually felt his healing presence in me again. I sat on the floor during adoration sobbing my eyes out.

So naturally I had no idea what to expect this year at the March. I went into it with an open mind, and I was not disappointed. The repeated theme that I kept running into was how much God loves us. He doesn’t hold grudges. He forgives us because all He wants us to do is to love Him back. One of the speakers said that God loved each and everyone of us so much, he loved us into existence. It put a whole new meaning on respecting life from the moment of conception until natural death.

No matter what, show those around you the respect and dignity that you would want. And always remember, even on your darkest day God will still love you. God is so good.