Monday November 1, 2010

Ottawa Teachers and Students Motivated by “Amazing” Experience at International Conference

By John-Henry Westen

OTTAWA, November 1, 2010 ( – Students and teachers from the Ottawa area were among those in attendance at the recent International Pro-Life Conference, which took place Oct 28-30 in the nation’s capital. Those who attended said that they were deeply impacted by the messages they heard and vowed to take them back with them into their schools and among their students and peers.

Adam Hennebury, a grade 12 student at All Saints Catholic School, told LSN that his experience at the conference was “amazing.”

“Hearing from all the speakers and all the different people of the Pro-Life movement really has been encouraging and inspiring,” he said. “It’s given me a new hope and excitement about getting involved in the movement and doing my part, whatever God’s plan for that to be, and help bring an end to the culture of death and to build up the culture of life.”

In particular, Hennebury said that he appreciated the emphasis on prayer and fasting as presented by Sister Catherine Marie (SV) in her talk. Hennebury also alluded to the general theme that emerged throughout both days of the conference, namely that pro-life activists are utterly dependent on God in all their pro-life initiatives.

Matt Dineen, a teacher who coordinates the St. Joseph Respect for Life Team at a local Ottawa high school said that the experience was “invaluable.”

For those who are working in schools, such events “not only allow us to learn more, but provide a means to further the work we try and carry out with our pro-life teams, including networking and introducing our team members to those in the pro-life community.”

Dineen also suggested that having the National March for Life and Youth Conference in Ottawa each year provides a great opportunity for youth of his school board to get involved in the pro-life cause. “So often, those in positions of authority tend to equate the term ‘pro-life’ with the single issue of abortion,” he said. “As Catholic school teachers running pro-life teams, we’re trying to bring forward a clear and concise message to society which states that we not only believe in, but will defend, the sanctity of life at all its stages, from conception to natural death.”

Standing with his students in defense of life at the March is “a privilege and an honour,” said Dineen, who called it an “essential dimension of living out our vocation as Catholic educators in a publicly funded system which is constantly under attack.”

“More and more, we are having to prove our worth and reason for existence. The defense of life goes a long way to demonstrating what we’re all about as a Catholic school system and what we stand for.”

Dineen said he is hopeful in what he sees as a change in momentum. “The future of the pro-life movement resides with the youth of today, people like Rebecca Richmond, Lia Mills and Ruth Lobo. They are the ones who inspire us to continue doing the work we’re attempting to bring forward in our schools.”

The teacher said, “We’re seeing victories, both big and small. All in all, it’s very encouraging. This conference goes a long way to contributing to that renewed energy and adding to the momentum that’s begun in our schools.”

As the conference wrapped up, Adam Hennebury pledged his commitment to being a “builder of a culture of life.” He said, “I hope to see more and more people my own age getting informed and active in this great mission, to help bring an end to ‘the greatest destroyer of human life’ as Blessed Mother Teresa said. Young people have a real desire to do something remarkable and self-sacrificing deep in their hearts for life; I hope I can help people tap into that from now on.”

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