KANSAS CITY — What a day to hold Teen Pro-Life Boot Camp.
Bill Francis, director of the Diocesan Respect Life office, had just led some three dozen teenagers in prayer for the unborn at Planned Parenthood in Overland Park, Kan., where abortions are performed, when his cell phone went off.
It carried the news that the operators of another abortion clinic, Aid for Women in Kansas City, Kan., had apparently placed a sign that the clinic was closing for good.
“It’s not our work,” Francis said that afternoon after Bishop Robert W. Finn celebrated Mass for the boot campers, and the people of St. Patrick Parish across the street from St. Pius X High School, where the daylong camp was held.
“It’s the work of the Holy Spirit,” he said.
Later, Francis blasted the news to the pro-life community on the Respect Life Web site and through e-mail, noting the hours upon hours in all kinds of weather that pro-lifers had spent in prayer near the now-closed clinic.
“On behalf of the Diocese Respect Life team, thank you to every prayer warrior and sidewalk counselor who stood outside this facility for your witness to this truth, to every pregnancy resource clinic for your tireless work in Christ and for your support of these individuals, to every person who worked for legislation to hold this den of darkness accountable, and especially to the countless others who have prayed over the years for this day,” Francis said.
That one victory won, Francis and his team, and the teenagers spent the day strengthening their witness on behalf of life through prayer, reflection, and good old fashioned teaching.
“We learned about contraception and abortion and how to talk about it to others,” said Alexander Stover, a member of Coronation of Our Lady Parish in Grandview.
“People don’t always understand or know the facts about the issue,” he said. “For example, post-abortive people go through so much pain and the suicide rate is very high.”
That’s the kind of truth people need to hear, and they can only hear it from people who put life and Christ at the center of their lives, Bishop Finn said in his homily.
Noting the day’s first reading, Bishop Finn said God told Solomon that he would grant him whatever he asked for. Solomon asked for wisdom.
“Solomon realizes that he has a huge task on his shoulders. He’s young and inexperienced, so he says, ‘God, give me wisdom,’” Bishop Finn said.
“He doesn’t ask for riches. He doesn’t ask for power over his enemies. He wants a heart directed in the right way,” the bishop said.
Too often, people today do not have their priorities in line with God.
“If you want to see what you think is important in your life, tell me how you spend your time and your money — your calendar and your budget,” Bishop Finn said.
“We can be very consumed with our day-to-day responsibilities, then someone we love has a great crisis. Suddenly, all our priorities change,” he said.
“Seek first the kingdom of heaven, then all falls into proper place,” said Bishop Finn, echoing his own episcopal motto.
“If we find things that are distracting us from God we may have to learn to leave them behind,” he said.
“But how can we move away from those things so we are directed to the path of eternal life?” he asked.
“By realizing there is no goal other than heaven. If we don’t make heaven, the things that distracted us here on earth will mean nothing,” Bishop Finn said.
Bishop Finn specifically and publicly thanked the Teen Pro-Life Boot Campers for placing their priority on the protection of human life.
“Our young people have been gathered here all day to focus on life,” Bishop Finn said.
“The church is second to none in assisting people, and through the generosity of its people, we take care of all kinds of people daily,” he said.
“But life first has to come into the world,” Bishop Finn said. “It has to be protected, because it has no voice except the voice of you and me.
“Let us pray for the unborn. Let us pray for the things that really matter. And let us realize that the one way for us is Jesus Christ,” Bishop Finn said.