November 30, 2012 (STOPP.org) – The students at St. John’s Catholic School in remote Beloit, Kansas, are serious about putting their faith into action to stop Planned Parenthood. So serious that they have boarded buses at least four times to travel an average of more than three hours—one way—to pray at Planned Parenthood facilities. Afterward, they returned home—another 3-hour bus trip—the same day.
Theology teacher Andrew Niewald shared the story with STOPP in hopes that other Catholic schools will be inspired and will join in similar real-world activities to help students understand the primordial error of the abortion and contraceptive-crazed culture, and to internalize the urgency and effectiveness of Christian witness from grassroots level young people engaging in the culture wars.
“We tried all sorts of things, including watching The Silent Scream and other abortion videos, but that did not have the impact we needed. Once the students were out there, three or four feet from the girls coming in to have abortions, begging them not to go in, it made it so much more real,” Niewald told STOPP.
When the students go to Planned Parenthood, they spend an hour and a half on the sidewalk, praying the Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, and holding signs that bear witness to all who pass by.
“We could take the students to the World War II museum, let them see the memorabilia behind glass doors, but that does not have the same impact as taking them to the front lines,” Andrew said. “We take them, instead, to the battle lines, and the conviction they walk away with is tremendous.”
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Andrew reports that, while the students receive many signs of encouragement from passersby, they also get a large dose of disrespect from those who drop the “F-bomb” and “flip them off.” Enduring this kind of persecution for something they believe in forms them in their courageous witness and prepares them to stand up for what they believe in throughout their lives, most immediately in college, when a student may be the lone person to take a courageous stand in a liberal professor’s classroom.
The students also learn important lessons about charity and self-restraint on the sidewalk, as they go against their natural inclinations and pray for those who persecute them, as well as for the women who are going in for abortions and the children who are scheduled for abortions.
Back in the classroom, the students are taught Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body. They learn to tear apart the pro-abortion arguments and find the error that lies within them, and how to lay out an effective pro-life argument.
Each year the students board the bus to the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. They engage in fundraising during the entire school year in order to pay for the trip. But unlike many youth groups that go to the march, when they return home they are encouraged to put their feet to the pavement and march to the battlefield—and that engagement leaves a lasting impression on them.
The thing that impacted the students the most, Andrew said, was the day they found out that they were instrumental in turning a young woman away from the abortion facility. No doubt many others that they don’t know about have turned away because of their presence as well.
Kudos to the students at St. John’s High School, and to the teachers and faculty who are building a Catholic culture—a culture of life—that will provide a springboard for stopping the advance of Planned Parenthood and the resultant culture of death. We look forward to seeing the accomplishments of those students, and pray that other Catholic schools make it a priority to form students to be warriors for life.
Reprinted with permission from STOPP.org