Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Teens Rise Up For Pro-Life Cause

By KRISTI JEFFRIES, Special Contributor | Published February 19, 2004

“How many of you would like to receive an excused absence from our archbishop so that you could miss a day of school?” I asked the teens in our youth group. As you can imagine, pretty much every hand in the room flew up. All were invited to attend the archdiocesan “Rise Up For Life,” an overnight lock-in on Jan. 21-22. Feeling inspired, 10 teens from our group at St. Pius X Church in Conyers signed up to participate.

The night, held at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta, included Mass celebrated by Archbishop John F. Donoghue, pro-life speakers, rosary, adoration and prayer time. Teens were also encouraged to write letters to their state representatives and senators about pro-life issues. The talks included one young woman’s personal testimony of going through the trauma of an abortion at age 16. Her testimony, along with a video entitled “The Hard Truth,” made the strongest impression on our group. The next morning, after sleeping on the gymnasium floor, and Mass and breakfast, the group was ready to travel to the state Capitol.

At the Capitol, the teens sought out their state representatives and senators. State Sen. Connie Stokes (D-District 43) was not in her office, but the group left a note urging her to support all pro-life bills she is given the opportunity to vote on. The group was fortunate enough to meet State Rep. Barbara Bunn (R-District 63) in person. She graciously gave them a personal tour of both the Senate and House chambers while offering a brief explanation about legislation. Rep. Bunn even empowered the teens by saying that they had the ability to write a bill that could make it to the Capitol. She further supported our teens’ pro-life stance by participating in the pro-life rally on the steps of the Capitol herself.

After meeting with Rep. Bunn, the group joined hundreds of other supporters of the pro-life movement on the steps of the state Capitol for the annual rally and silent march.

In his letter to excuse teen participants from school that day, the archbishop said that they “desired to exercise their First Amendment rights as citizens of this county and let their state and federal representatives know their true thoughts on this subject. They gathered with other Christian and Catholic youths to spend time in prayer and education on the topic and its various offshoots, hearing medical professionals, currently active politicians, and even peers speak on such topics as abortion, adoption, stem cell research, cloning, political lobbying and more.” He also added, “I know they missed a valuable day’s work at school, but in return they received a firsthand education on one of the most pivotal issues of our day, as well as the political system and its inner workings.”

Kristi Jeffries is the youth minister at St. Pius X Church, Conyers.