Sara Zarb, UF student
“Hey Sara, let’s go to Gator Nights tonight.”
“Ok, but I have to go to bed pretty early tonight, because I have to get up at 7 a.m.!”
“Where are you going?”
“It doesn’t matter…”
“What? Just tell me!”
“I’m going to March for Life in St. Augustine tomorrow.”
This was the conversation I had Friday night with my friend, who is pro-choice. Notice that I wanted to avoid the conversation altogether. I was afraid my friend and I would get into an argument, just by me saying I was going to a local March for Life!
Why was I reluctant to tell her? Because I’m the minority. I speak for the unborn, which is something I don’t see often, especially on a college campus.
The St. Augustine March for Life, however, was a gathering of like-minded people. We were all in this together. We were all there for the same purpose. We were all advocates for the protection of the most vulnerable.
Before the March, we attended Mass, we sang, we listened to a few testimonies and speakers, and then we started the March. Seeing extremely passionate people, from ages 1 to 92 (yes, seriously!) made my heart happy. I was astounded.
Pro-life activist Stephanie Gray spoke at the closing of the event. She was absolutely brilliant. She gave us many scenarios and answered them from the other perspective (pro-choice), to give us insight into what to expect while discussing our beliefs to people. This brought me peace. I realized there is an effective way to communicate our pro-life message.
After her speech, I went up and introduced myself. I told her I was a college student at the University of Florida, and I’m struggling to find my voice, to communicate to others about what I believe in.
“How do you do it?” I asked her. “I’m in the minority at UF as far as my pro-life beliefs, and I’m so scared to talk to people. Like, Stephanie, you really know your stuff! What would you recommend I do?”
And Stephanie gave me three points: Pray. Study. Practice.
“First,” she answered, “you have to pray to God for wisdom, because we can’t do this alone. Then, study! Do your research. Know the material, know the facts. Then, practice. See how people respond to what you say. Know what’s effective, and what’s not.”
When we pray, we connect with God. If we allow ourselves to be vulnerable with Him, then we are more able to truly inspire others. Let’s pray to God to give us strength; to give mothers and families the strength to overcome the difficult obstacles they are facing for the unborn, for all the children He created, but didn’t have the same opportunity as we. Pray to the Holy Spirit to guide not only us, but those we are trying to reach.
Then, research. Learn from others who have had these tough conversations, understand what has already been said, what has already been accomplished. Find legitimate sources: another good pro-life advocate (besides Stephanie Gray) is Abby Johnson, former Clinical Planned Parenthood Director, now Pro-Life Activist. Staying up-to-date with reliable sources can help us with our research and understanding the topic.
Finally, practice! And remember, it’s not an argument – it’s a conversation. “So, I recently went to the March for Life…” Surprisingly, the more we discuss, the more we can delve deeply into an understanding of why that person believes in abortion. Sometimes, there is a previous experience attached to the person’s belief, causing him or her to think differently about abortion than we do. Above all else, let’s be respectful and persuasive. Flexible and firm. Enthusiastic and calm. Instilling balance into our conversations creates a positive atmosphere.
No one said advocating for pro-life would be easy. And yet, God is encouraging. He is encouraging us to voice, to showcase what we believe in, and to not hold back.
Matthew Fulton, UF Student
The full beauty of the Catholic faith was on display during our three-day trip to Washington, DC. We met some who had driven 48 hours to the nation’s capital. Why? Why take that amount of time out of your busy life for an event that couldn’t have lasted more than three hours?
I learned that it was because people care. They care and love so much that they are willing to do irrational things like sit in a car or bus for two days just to take a stand for the sanctity of life. During the March itself we waddled like penguins, unable to move more than a few feet a minute for long stretches. We were packed in tight, it was loud, it was cold (for me at least), and we had every reason to complain about our discomfort. But nobody was upset. In fact, everyone was smiling. There was true joy in these people’s hearts, joy stemming from the fact that life in America is winning. You could feel it, and it was awesome. Rosaries were offered up for the unborn, songs of praise rang out, and banners from all around the country were raised proudly in the sky. It was neat being reminded of the universal Church. Sometimes you get too caught up in your own little world, and in today’s media environment it can seem like you’re the only pro-lifer around. Experiencing the March for Life myself makes me confident that one day soon we are going to win this fight, and we won’t need to march anymore.
Allie Jackson, UF Student
This year was my second year attending the March for Life in D.C. It honestly is one of those events that I will always look forward to. This year’s March was especially exciting. Bigger steps were taken with the passing of an anti-abortion bill and many government representatives, including the President of the United States, addressed the March for Life. The band Plumb opened up the rally with her beautiful worship songs, Sister Bethany Madonna prayed with us and gave a wonderful talk, and one of the most powerful testimonies I ever heard was given by Congresswoman Beutler. We peacefully march for those who cannot defend themselves. As JPII says, “Every human person…is a being of inestimable worth created in the image and likeness of God.” Every person is formed, loved for and created by God with a worth and value that we cannot even comprehend. We were given a chance to live this beautiful gift of life and we marched for those whose chance was taken away from them. We also marched for women; for those hearts that are torn or broken; for those who cannot stand for themselves.
JPII mentions that love is the most basic human vocation. We marched simply for that love. Love of all life. This march is unique, because as amazing as it is, our goal is eventually to not have to march anymore. But until then, we will always march, we will always fight and we will always pray for those who can’t. This march gave us that opportunity and allowed us to see the beautiful life that God has for each and every one of us. The March for Life in D.C. is a truly humbling experience that I will never forget. God Bless!
Morgan English, UF Student
I was given the opportunity to attend the March For Life in Washington, D.C. for the first time. The weeks leading up to the March I anticipated with great excitement, yet I was slightly nervous. I was excited to be able to march for something that I hold so close to my heart, the gift of human life, which the world tries to destroy daily. After arriving to D.C. and attending the National Prayer Vigil for Life Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, all my worries went away. I couldn’t imagine a better way to kick the weekend and march off than to participate in Mass with thousands — yes thousands — of other Catholics united for the same reason, to give thanks to God for the gift of human life.
The next morning came time for Mass with all the other Floridians in St. Peter’s Catholic Church and the March. As we walked up to the Mall it was beautiful to see all the people so excited and filled with joy to join the thousands to march. Before the actual March we got to hear from President Trump, Vice-President Pence, Sister Bethany Madonna (love her!!), Pam Tebow (Go Gators!!), a congresswoman, and many other speakers. The most moving part was to hear all these people speak about how they respect and fight for life. It was very empowering. Then it came time for the March! I’m not sure I have seen such a large mob of people somehow line up, somewhat ordered.
The March was absolutely beautiful. There were young children, women of all ages, young and old men, and former Planned Parenthood and abortion facility workers all marching together. It took about two-and-a-half hours to complete the march. Throughout that time, we prayed, sang, and chanted. Although I wish we did not have to have this March, and pray we won’t have to drive on a bus for 12 hours to attend another; but if we have to be there again, I will sign up in a heartbeat. This is something everyone should pray about attending because if we do not continue to stand up for human life, who will? My favorite sign was “I am the Pro-Life generation,” because this is so true. Our generation continues to respect and defend life more and more, while at the same time we are the generation most susceptible to ending life. The impact we, as young adults, have on this movement is greater than any other generation. Let’s take advantage of that and defend life!