Young pro-lifer leads the charge

| December 12, 2012 | 0 Comments

Laura Bearth is part of a group of Catholic teens taking an active role in supporting the cause

Laura Bearth stands outside Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul, where she organizes Raiders for Life. Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

Laura Bearth is a young, pro-life spitfire. She leads a respect life group at her high school, Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul.

And, she has this to say about the commitment she shares with others who defend the unborn: “We’re not going away until it [abortion] goes away.”

Hang around the hallways of Cretin-Derham Hall and you won’t doubt her words.

At every turn, she is putting herself “out there” as she describes it, making her views known to the respect life group she leads at school, called Raiders for Life, plus to the broader school community.

As most people scurry through shopping malls getting ready for Christmas, Bearth, a junior, is looking ahead to late January when she will be joining a group of teens making the archdiocesan-sponsored trip to Washington, D.C., for the annual national March for Life. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

She went a year ago with her whole family: parents Robin and Luke, and brothers Matthew, 20, and Nicholas, 11.

“That was super cool for me,”?she said. “My mom and dad were chaperones — and it starts at home. . . . This is our faith, and we were actually on a pilgrimage together as a family.”

Mobilizing youth

Watching the Bearths with delight was Sharon Wilson, respect life coordinator for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ Office of Marriage, Family and Life. She has worked to mobilize Catholic youth to support the pro-life cause, and people like Laura Bearth are evidence that the effort is working.

“Laura brings tons of energy to the pro-life work that she does at her school,” Wilson said. “She’s a good planner, and that’s what has really helped her to grow the club that they have at Cretin-Derham Hall.”

Increases in the number of pro-life supporters among youth is not just happening at the school, but throughout the archdiocese, Wilson noted. Within the last year, Wilson made a switch in how she recruited youth to the cause, and it has caused a spike in the number of teens who have gotten involved.

For several years, predating her arrival to the archdiocese, there was a respect life advisory board that consisted of representatives from Catholic high schools in the archdiocese. Then, Wilson decided to expand the group to include representatives from parishes as well. There now are 80 teens, who are called Youth Ambassadors for Life.

“We want to equip them to be able to take that pro-life message to their peers because as much as [adults] talk about it, kids are going to listen to other kids,” she said.

“When you bring these kids together, they share information with each other, they are strengthened by each other’s work . . . . Just being able to know that they’re not alone in doing this kind of work invigorates them and is able to get them to recommit themselves to the cause.”

Bearth is encouraged by what she is seeing at her school. At one of the main events she organizes, 101 students participated. It’s called Solidarity in Silence, in which students wear red pro-life armbands and refrain from talking except when necessary in classes. An announcement is made at the start of the school day, and the Raiders for Life group has a signup for three days prior to the day, which was Oct. 25 this year.

“That’s one of my favorite days,” she said. “It’s super encouraging because you walk down the hallway and see someone else with that armband and there’s a nod or a smile. That sense of unity, like you’re in it together, is super, super strong.

It’s awesome because there’s a ton of people who participate that you don’t know about because they don’t come to the meetings or they’re not on the life team. Then, they sign up to do that, and it’s awesome.”

Hope for the future

With the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade approaching, Wilson has hope that this generation of youth can help get the law overturned.

“Our youth are more pro-life than any other generation since Roe v. Wade,” she said. “And, that’s really a hopeful thing because people wonder if Roe v. Wade will ever be overturned.”

One person who believes it will is Connor Petit, a sophomore at Cretin-Derham Hall who has stepped into leadership with Bearth. He joined the Raiders for Life early in his freshman year and he, like Bearth, is helping to draw others incurrentlyto the group.

Petit leads the freshmen and sophomores, and currently there are 15 regular attendees, joining about half a dozen juniors and seniors.

“I’m actually doing my national history project on Roe v. Wade,” he said. “I think that 40 years is a really long time and it needs to be overturned now. . . . There’s serious hope and we know how powerful and strong the movement has gotten.”


Make your voice heard

For those wishing to stand up for life during the upcoming anniversary of Roe v.?Wade, there are several opportunities:

  • Prayer service for life

As usual, the archdiocese is sponsoring a local Prayer Service for Life, which takes place Jan. 22 at the Cathedral of St. Paul. Led by Bishop Lee Piché, the 10:30 a.m. service will be followed by a march to the State Capitol and a rally organized by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life.

  • All Night Prayer Vigil

New this year is a prayer vigil that starts at 7 p.m. Jan 21 and continues until 7 a.m. the next morning at St. Mary’s Chapel at the cathedral. The event begins with Mass at 7, followed by eucharistic adoration at 8 and confession until midnight.

At 3 a.m. will be the Divine Mercy Chaplet, with Benediction and repose of the Blessed Sacrament at 7.

  • Youth for Life Conference

On Jan. 21, which is also Martin Luther King Day when many schools are closed, there will be a Minnesota Youth for Life Conference at Sacred Heart in Robbinsdale. Going from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m., it will feature speakers covering a variety of pro-life topics, including how youth can help overturn Roe v. Wade. Cost is $30. For more information, visit http://www.mnyouthforlife.webs.com.

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