Middle school and high school students from 110 schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles will take a special field trip to USC’s Galen Center on Oct. 25 for the 4th annual Christian Service 4LIFE Rally, a pro-life event designed to educate young people about the importance of standing up for all life, from conception to natural death.
Presented by LIFEsocal, various archdiocesan departments and other supporters, the gathering is intended to inspire teenagers to become or remain active in Christian service, by helping those in need in their local communities.
More than 7,000 students are expected to attend the rally, which will feature pro-life speakers, celebrities and activities centered around the sanctity of life and the life of St. Mother Teresa. Joe Melendrez, campus life minister at Chaminade High School, and Brittney Shauran, a former contestant on America’s Top Model, will kick off the rally by entertaining students with song and dance as schools from all over the archdiocese arrive early in the morning to fill the Galen Center.
Numerous clergy will participate, most notably Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, who will lead the benediction, Auxiliary Bishop David G. O’Connell, who will participate in the Game of Life, Auxiliary Bishop Joseph V. Brennan, who will sing the National Anthem, and Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron, who will give the wrap-up talk.
Pat Coffin from “Catholic Answers Live” radio show will serve as emcee for the event. Drumlines from St. Francis High School and Damien High School will provide additional entertainment.
“We are excited to have more and more schools participate each year, and for students and teachers to offer suggestions, so that this event will continue to grow and improve. Our junior advisory board, led by Molly Hagan, has been instrumental in planning activities that are both relevant and fun,” said Carol Golbranson, executive director of LIFEsoCal, a nonprofit organization.
For the first time at the rally, high school juniors and seniors are invited to attend a special breakout session on “How to Stay Catholic in College” with LMU Professor Christopher Kaczor, Aurora Griffin, a 2014 Harvard graduate and author of “How I Stayed Catholic at Harvard,” Father Dave Heney of Immaculate Heart Radio and a handful of USC students.
Juniors and seniors who attend will receive a complimentary lunch in USC’s VIP Founder’s Club.
More than 24 “Action Booths” will be set up during the event as well, each one representing different volunteer opportunities in the community. Young people can actively participate in the booths, for example, by wrapping donated Christmas gifts for Adopt-A-Family or decorating their school banner for OneLifeLA.
The faith-filled rally inspires today’s youths to take action, according to Golbranson.
“It is important all of our students realize that they are part of something great, that our Catholic faith is awesome, and that we are all called to be saints. We want our young people to get off their phones to do something for others, to do something positive — even something as simple as a smile,” she said. “As Mother Teresa taught us, ‘Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.’ It is fun and exciting to be a part of something big. We are fighting the good fight, and we are doing it together, each in our own small way.”
For many of the schools, who are attending the rally, it is their one and only field trip of the year.
“LIFEsoCal ensures that this event is available to all students, regardless of their ability to pay the $10 admission fee or raise funds for their bus transportation,” explained Golbranson, adding that LIFEsoCal is grateful for the support of their generous donors, for Archbishop Gomez and for the many good and hardworking priests and bishops who attend the event and hear confessions.
Further, she noted, LIFEsoCal acknowledges that an event of this size could not take place without help and encouragement from the archdiocesan departments of Catholic Schools, Life, Justice and Peace, the Knights of Columbus and the dozens of volunteers who serve humbly and faithfully.
Schools as far away as Santa Barbara, Lakewood and Santa Maria attend the rally each year.
“It is unifying for the archdiocese. It is inspiring that a school in Santa Maria will leave as early as 4:30 a.m. to drive to the Galen Center,” said Golbranson. “It is inspiring to see diverse students from all different backgrounds and all different schools — it brings us all together.”
Schools interested in attending the Christian Service 4LIFE Rally can register by calling (626) 755-7323.