Catholic Free Press

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Teaching youth to be advocates for life issues

Posted By April 7, 2016 | 5:39 pm | Featured Article #4
Sarah Mary Toce speaks at the MCFL convention Saturday at Assumption College.
Photo by
Tanya Connor
Sarah Mary Toce speaks at the MCFL convention Saturday at Assumption College. Photo by Tanya Connor

By Tanya Connor

A woman who trained youth in Louisiana to advocate for the unborn is bringing her ministry here.
Sarah Mary Toce, now New England Life and Leadership Project Director for National Right to Life, spoke about this at the Massachusetts Citizens For Life Convention 2016, held Saturday at Assumption College.
Other talks focused on abortion providers’ lies, court cases, post-abortion outreach, sex education, reversing the effects of abortion pills, protecting oneself in the current medical environment, and reaching more people.
The new documentary “Hush,” about efforts to hide information that abortion harms women, was shown. Isabelle Germino won the youth oratory contest and a trip to Washington, D.C., to represent Massachusetts in the national competition at the National Right to Life Convention July 7-9.
In her talk and speaking to The Catholic Free Press, Miss Toce explained the program she helped offer in Louisiana, which she is now offering here. (She moved to Massachusetts in August to pursue a master’s of divinity at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.)
Several years ago Louisiana Right to Life created a 3-day immersion program called Camp Joshua to train youth in pro-life work, she said. LARTL expanded it to a five-day program and condensed it to one-day and half-day programs. It’s for high schoolers, but has been adapted for younger and older students.
Hired by LARTL in 2014, she helped lead it. She also condensed it to a one-hour program, Pro-Life 101,
to give private and public school students and religious education classes the basics of the pro-life movement.
In Pro-Life 101 she talks about fetal development, support for post-abortive women and chastity as logical and fulfilling, she said.
She even shows illustrations which instruct doctors how to do an abortion, to show young people what abortion does. She allows youth to leave the room if they are uncomfortable with something she presents; she doesn’t want to force anything on them, she said. But she does issue a call to action, asking what they will tell their children someday about their efforts to end abortion.
The longer versions of the program include meeting with legislators, praying outside abortion facilities and dialoging about abortion on college campuses, she said.
Thinking that “Camp Joshua” had religious connotations, leaders changed the name to PULSE, challenging people to “check your pulse” to see where you stand with the pro-life movement.
Miss Toce said they wanted people with differing beliefs to be united in fighting abortion; they approach it from a human rights perspective. But at the camps youth come to know Jesus as they experience Christian community, she said; “if God is truth and our movement offers the truth, then we offer them the Lord.”
They must present that truth with compassion, and find common ground with opponents, she said. They can agree that poverty is awful, but say abortion doesn’t solve that problem, and can address it by working at food pantries. She said she encourages youth to imagine a future “where we can kill the demand for abortion.”
The generation of pro-lifers from 1973, when abortion was legalized across the United States, kicked the door down, she said; now it’s up to her generation to step through that door.
Miss Toce said she has given Pro-Life 101 in Catholic schools in the Boston Archdiocese, and wants to give it elsewhere.
She said she can speak to college classes using a philosophical debate. If people claim to be open-minded, they need to hear all sides, she reasons.
Plans are being finalized for three one-day sessions of PULSE in the Boston area this summer for any interested highschoolers, she said. She said scholarships will be available; she doesn’t charge for her services, but in some places there are costs for rent and food.

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