Catholic Free Press

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  • Feb
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Students witness to pro-life views

Posted By February 20, 2015 | 12:51 pm | Lead Story #2
Photo by  Tanya Connor
Joseph Duffy and Mary Killian listen as Luisanna Paulino speaks at the 40 Days for Life kick-off.
Photo by Tanya Connor Joseph Duffy and Mary Killian listen as Luisanna Paulino speaks at the 40 Days for Life kick-off.

By  Tanya Connor

NORTH GRAFTON – Working around embryonic stem cells.
Pondering an unexpected question.
Growing up with excitement about new babies – and learning through school activities.
These are ways local youth say they grew in embracing pro-life views. Now they witness to others in word and action – including veteran pro-lifers. Tuesday they spoke at the 40 Days for Life kick-off at St. Mary Parish.
This Lent’s 40 Days for Life campaign to end abortion began locally on Wednesday outside the Planned Parenthood abortion facility  in Worcester.
At the kickoff Mass, Father Kenneth R. Cardinale, St. Mary’s pastor, told listeners they were like antibodies sent to fight the infection of abortion and that God’s love triumphs. He led them in a commissioning ceremony.
Guest speakers after supper were college students Luisanna Paulino and Mary Killian, and high school student Joseph Duffy.
Ms. Paulino, a WPI senior studying biotechnology, said she came to her pro-life work in an unorthodox way. In high school she worked in a UMass Medical School lab “where we housed embryonic stem cells,” though she didn’t work with them herself.
“I really wanted to know why the Catholic Church didn’t accept this,” given cures that could result, she said. “I started asking questions. … I knew that the Catholic faith said, ‘This is a life.’”
She learned these cells were leftovers from women who achieved pregnancy through in-vitro fertilization, she said.
“The purpose was to be a child from the get-go,” she said; scientists knew that, but used these human beings for research. She said most of these embryonic stem cells were frozen or died, rather than curing anyone.
“Life starts at the womb, but it certainly doesn’t end there,” Ms. Paulino said; pro-life work includes helping people who are depressed or on death row.
As president of the Hispanic youth group at St. Paul Cathedral, she educates teenagers about Jesus, she said.
“Jesus talked a lot about life … making sure we appreciate and save life … rejuvenating people, making sure that they have hope,” she said. Youth group members talk about life issues and pray outside the abortion facility, she said.
She said her school is wonderful, but some professors promote atheism and some students close themselves to truth.
“I became friends … with the people who felt that God wasn’t with them,” she said. “They all know I’m Catholic.”
Ms. Killian, co-president of Students for Life at the College of the Holy Cross, expressed gratitude that the college has enabled her to dialog about a question that caught her off-guard when she was in  high school.
That question, posed by a mission trip co-worker, was: “Are you pro-life?” The other girl wondered about abortion in cases of violence or Down Syndrome.
“I was really struck,” Ms. Killian said. “I never thought about it.” She didn’t think those things justified abortion. Her Catholic parents had taught through their actions, but now she was confused.
“Are we pro-life?” she asked her twin brother, who was also on the trip. He responded, “Well, yeah, of course.”
Now a pre-med and Spanish major, Ms. Killian said she knows the unborn child is separate from the mother and that in Spanish “to give birth” is “dar la luz” (to give light).
“Each person is Christ and we need to respect them” as that, she said.
Not everyone at Holy Cross shares the pro-life group’s views, but the group proclaims that life is valuable in the womb, on death row, and when one has a disease or handicap, Ms. Killian said. Feb. 25 they are to set up a display challenging passersby to consider at what point human rights begin.
“We’ve been really focusing on the power of dialog for our students,” she said. She said it’s important that they know how to answer questions. Something that shocks people who favor a right to abortion is learning pro-lifers are nice, she said.
Mr. Duffy, a senior at Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Still River and president of its St. John the Baptist Pro-Life League, talked about influences on his pro-life stance.
“I’m number four in the lineup of eight kids,” he said. “Mom’s going to have as many kids as God decides to send her.” He said having new babies born into the family brings great excitement.
Their parents taught them to love others, he said; God has a plan for each person.
Mr. Duffy said he’s learned about abortion through the school’s promotion of the pro-life cause. A favorite event of his is the 40 Days for Life eucharistic procession through Worcester streets.
“That’s what’s going to change hearts,” he said. He also stressed the need for prayer and reception of the sacraments.
He said he’s been helped by his parents, the school’s religious sisters and brothers, and listeners’ prayers and example.
The fact that abortion has been legal so long gets him down, he said. So does seeing women who are headed in for an abortion ignoring sidewalk counselors’ offers to help. But he finds it hopeful that God is in control, he said; “we pray and we leave the results up to him.” He also find its hopeful that the younger generation is pro-life.
People of whatever generation are invited to sign up at 40daysforlife.com/worcester for prayer hours outside Planned Parenthood, 470 Pleasant St., Worcester.
All are also welcome to special events. The Grafton parishes are hosting a living rosary on Pleasant Street from 6:30-7:15 p.m. March 4. Bishop McManus is leading the rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet there from 11 a.m.-noon March 20. The closing event is from 3-4:45 p.m. March 29 with an hour of prayer outside, then adoration and Benediction in Problem Pregnancy’s chapel, 495 Pleasant St.