Hundreds participated in 5th Annual ‘Life Day’ in St. Joseph

Participants at the 5th Annual Life Day in St. Joseph walked along the busiest streets of St. Joseph in order to promote the sanctity of life through positive education, compassionate advocacy, and promotion of alternatives to abortion.  The walk was followed by a rally at Bishop LeBlond High School. (Sara Kraft/Key photo)

By Sara Kraft

“I walked all the way!” exclaimed 8 year old Claire Wise, a student at St. Joseph Cathedral School. Claire walked with her family and was one of hundreds of participants from all across Northwest Missouri who showed up for St. Joseph’s fifth annual “Life Day” on October 1. The event seeks to promote the sanctity of life through positive education, compassionate advocacy, and promotion of alternatives to abortion. The event was sponsored by the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, the St. Joseph Pregnancy Resource Center, Missouri Right to Life, the St. Joseph Knights of Columbus, and Missouri Western State University Newman Center.

The event began with a march through the busiest parts of St. Joseph – including major roads such as Belt Highway and Frederick Avenue. Walk participants could choose between a 3.7 mile walk, 2.2 mile walk, and a mile walk with the various distances designed to suit the needs of participants of all ages. Additionally, those who were unable to walk hosted a life chain in front of Bishop LeBlond High School.

As the group held up positive prolife messages, there were “lots of honks, acknowledging, waving, and thumbs up,” stated Diane Jensen. Diane, a parishioner at St. Peter’s in Stanberry, walked with her daughter Megan, a student at Missouri Western State University. Diane and Megan had previously attended the March for Life in Washington D.C., and were grateful for a chance to stand up for the unborn locally.
“It’s important to walk,” stated Megan, “because most people just blow it off.”

“So many babies are killed each year,” added Diane. “We have to speak up for the unborn because they can’t walk for themselves.”
“It’s a chance for people who believe in the right to life to stand up and show the rest of society we don’t agree (with abortion),” stated Life Day Founder Dan Deatherage.

“Life Day is important because it allows us to speak for those who do not have a voice,” stated Missouri Western State University Newman Center Director Leeds Haroldson. “It allows us to be a voice for the voiceless and proclaim our love for and desire to protect weakest of our society. Through the walk, I have seen our students grow in kindness and love for others and develop a deeper appreciation for the gift of life. It inspires me to see so many joyful people courageously defending and speaking up for the sanctity of life, children, and families.”

Following the walk, a rally was held at Bishop LeBlond High School stadium. Reagan Barklage, the Western Regional Director for Students for Life, gave the keynote address during the rally.

“I want to tell you the tide is turning in our country,” stated Reagan. “Laws are being passed to protect life. However, we aren’t there yet!”
Reagan reminded the crowd that change was needed even within the prolife movement. She shared the story of former Planned Parenthood Director Abby Johnson, who is now a vocal leader in the prolife movement. Reagan pointed out that Abby was not converted by the angry prolife people who were frequently outside of the clinic. Instead, she was converted by the peaceful people who prayed outside the clinic.

“‘Hate comes from hell. Mercy comes from Christ,’” quoted Reagan from Abby Johnson’s book Unplanned. “‘When we have hate in our hearts, our spirits are damaged. Be careful with your words. Not only are you a living witness of Christ and His truth, but you could put your own soul at risk. “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.” (1 John 3:15) “When we hate, we are no better than those who kill.’”

Reagan noted her biggest frustration with the prolife movement was how the media portrays the prolife movement as angry, judgmental, and mean. However, the majority of prolife supporters are loving and compassionate. “Our goal is to help women through an unplanned pregnancy,” stated Reagan, “not shame them.”

The angry actions don’t represent the movement, she noted, but “What are we doing to live up to this image?” Reagan suggested examining your own personal social media posts and learning where to send a woman in an unplanned pregnancy. Additionally, she questioned, “Are we judgmental when we find out about unplanned pregnancy?”

“Society tells women they can’t go to school and be pregnant,” stated Reagan. Students for Life seeks to change that culture with their “Pregnant on Campus” initiative. They seek to help make colleges friendlier to pregnant and new mothers and work to equip universities with diaper decks, lactation rooms, and babysitting during finals.

Reagan spoke of her conversation with abortionist Dr. Erin King following both of their portrayals in the HBO Special “Abortion: Stories Women Tell.”

“One thing we both agree on is we both think we are helping women,” stated Reagan. They found common ground during their genuine conversation as both women want to find tangible resources for women.

“Abortion is the greatest destroyer of peace,” explained Reagan. “Abortion should break our hearts.”

She challenged the crowd to form a new battle plan and discern where they fit in. “Lives are in the balance,” reminded Reagan.

The three ways for everyone to help are to “pay, pray, and know what to say.”

First of all, pay. Reagan challenged the crowd to give both financial resources and time as they are able.

Second, pray. Reagan suggested praying every day for an end to abortion when doing a daily activity, such as brushing your teeth. If you have children, get your kids to do so too, perhaps even taking them to pray at one of the two abortion clinics in Kansas City. Additionally, pray for Planned Parenthood’s workers.

Finally, know what to say. First of all, follow prolife groups on social media. Educate yourself and speak up when you have the opportunity. “The average Joe on the street has no idea Planned Parenthood does abortions,” stated Reagan. In fact, Planned Parenthood does 1 out of 3 of our nation’s abortions. “The biggest lie is that only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services is abortion,” stated Reagan. She explained that Planned Parenthood counts every condom they give out as one service, so if they give out a thousand condoms on a college campus, that equals a thousand services. “Ninety-four percent of the pregnancy services Planned Parenthood performs are abortions,” explained Reagan.

“It’s no longer enough to just have prolife beliefs,” challenged Reagan. “We must stand up for life. Never miss an opportunity to stand up for life.”

 

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Saturday
October 21, 2017
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph