Geneva students let their pro-life lights shine - Catholic Courier

Geneva students let their pro-life lights shine

GENEVA — They may be young, but the members of the Freedom 2 Live pro-life club at St. Francis-St. Stephen School have been around long enough to form strong opinions about abortion.

“It’s despicable, completely despicable,” said sixth-grader Thomas Poitras. “Life is the most precious thing that God has ever given us, and we should never take it away.”

Although Thomas is one of the group’s more outspoken members, his fellow club members echoed his sentiments in their own ways during the club’s March 16 meeting.

“I still think that you should still give everyone a chance to at least have their own life,” seventh-grader Kelsie Wheeler said.

“I believe that it’s not right to kill babies,” added fellow seventh-grader Jacquelyn Sullivan.

Club adviser and founder Colleen Richards told the Catholic Courier she’s not surprised the students have such strong views about abortion.

“I really never met a child who wasn’t pro-life,” Richards said.

Adults sometimes tend to try to make excuses for people who’ve had abortions, placing the blame on the tough situations those people were in and the challenges they faced, she said.

“Kids just get to the point, (saying), ‘No, that’s wrong,'” Richards said.

In previous years Richards has attended the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., with groups of students from St. Francis-St. Stephen School and St. Michael School in Newark. Richards had worked part time at both schools but this year joined the full-time faculty at St. Francis-St. Stephen as fifth-grade homeroom teacher and fifth- through eighth-grade math teacher.

Richards said this year she wanted to find a way to help her students focus on pro-life issues all year long. While surfing the Internet over the summer she stumbled upon the Web site of Generations for Life, which is the youth outreach of the Pro-Life Action League. There she found an entire suggested curriculum for a pro-life club, complete with lessons on fetal development, the landmark Roe v. Wade decision and other relevant topics.

“We’re really just trying to make them aware and find out what the issues are. Yes (a fetus) is a real person, and that person is valuable,” Richards said. “What does God have planned for that person? If they’re not here the world misses out.”

The club is open to students in fifth through eighth grades, and thus far parents have been very supportive of the club. Last fall a handful of parents even sought out Richards to thank her for founding Freedom 2 Live. Many parents initiated discussions about abortion and life issues in their homes in anticipation of their children joining the club.

“We keep talking about it and praying about it. It jars them when they first hear that some mothers would decide not to have the baby and so the child is killed,” Richards said.

The issue of abortion becomes personal when young children think about what might have happened to themselves or their siblings had their parents made a different choice. Jacquelyn, who has a 14-month-old sister, recalled that one of her mother’s friends had asked her mother more than a year ago if she planned to have an abortion.

“She said no because she didn’t want to kill my sister. Now that I see my sister, I couldn’t think of that happening,” Jacquelyn said.

Eighth-grader Cody Henehan feels the same way about his 2-year-old and 10-month-old siblings.

“It would be really sad without them,” he said.

Several months ago Richards took the club members to the Pregnancy Care Center of the Finger Lakes in Geneva, where they saw an ultrasound machine and learned about fetal development. This is beneficial information for the students now but might become even more useful down the road if they encounter people dealing with unplanned pregnancies, Richards said.

“This isn’t about pointing fingers. It’s about teaching these kids to be part of a solution and to be kind and loving and helpful.”

Richards brought a group of students to this year’s March for Life, where they were impressed by the more than 200,000 people who marched with them, she said. Seventh-grader Lauren Vasquez said she was especially impressed by a group of women from the Silent No More Awareness campaign who spoke about regretting their past abortions.

The Freedom 2 Live club recently received some support from a well-known Catholic. In a letter dated March 7 Archbishop Raymond Burke, head of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature in Rome, thanked Richards for bringing her students to the march.

“As you rightly note, the young people’s attendance at the March for Life provides a good formation in the Gospel of Life,” Archbishop Burke wrote.

Lately the club members have been penning letters to President Barack Obama and their local legislators, urging them not to support legislation that threatens or destroys life, including the proposed Freedom of Choice Act.

“How is this ever going to stop if our own government supports this, if they are saying it’s alright to kill people?” asked eighth-grader Tyler Scherzi.

“I find it really shocking that anyone would kill a life before it even comes into the world and gets a chance to shine. Who knows, that person might have cured a disease or become a president. Aborting a child isn’t giving anyone a chance,” he remarked.

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