Three hours before the Requiem Mass for the Unborn, the plaza of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels was bursting with youthful energy, courtesy of more than 200 teens and youth ministry leaders from parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
The Youth Rally for Life event Jan. 18, organized by Tony Sands of the Right to Life League of Southern California, featured pro-life speakers, testimonials, live music, and resource information from ten different pro-life organizations that work with teens.
“We believe that this will be the generation to end abortion,” asserted Catherine Contreras, president of Foot Soldiers for Life in Alhambra, a Catholic-based ministry. “Teens see the issue very clearly. They grew up seeing ultrasound pictures of their brothers, sisters, cousins, etc. They understand that this is about saving people --- unborn children and their mothers. They hear about abortion --- babies killed in their mother’s womb --- then something wakes up inside them and they seem to lose their fear of speaking up for the truth.”
Ceci Prieto, a 16-year-old youth volunteer with Foot Soldiers for Life, spoke to the teen-audience about her experiences working for pro-life awareness.
“Being a Catholic Christian, my motivation for working to end abortion, and for other pro-life concerns such as euthanasia and aging, is God. I know that what I am doing is God’s will, because I feel it in my heart and soul.
“I also know that when I do pro-life activism, Jesus is protecting me. I wear my pro-life t-shirts to school. I speak to my friends and also to my extended family about my pro-life beliefs --- to advocate for life from conception to natural death.”
Alongside Foot Soldiers for Life were representatives from Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, a Protestant Christian based group that runs a summer camp to prepare teens and adults who want to work and volunteer in the Pro-Life Movement.
“The term ‘Survivors’ refers to all people born after January 22, 1973 --- the date of the Roe vs. Wade United States Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal,” said campus outreach director Kristina Garza. “We have people from many different churches and also atheists who participate in our training,” she said.
Event organizer Sands encouraged the teens to speak out in their schools and to be an instrument of hope for peers who might find themselves facing an unplanned pregnancy.
“Even though people on the other side of the abortion debate call themselves ‘pro-choice,’” he noted, “what I always hear from mothers who experience the sadness and regret from choosing abortion say is, ‘I thought I had no choice. I did not know of any other options for my situation.’”
He told the youth gathered that there were ten organizations represented “for you to find out more about. You can have a voice and can be a friend to someone who needs help. If Jesus Christ could share his Gospel with the world using 12 apostles, think about how together we can do something amazing --- we can defend and save lives.”