NAPLES, FL, April 4, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Ave Maria School of Law (AMSL) recently held two Law of Life Summits, one in Washington, D.C. and the other at our Naples, Florida campus. At a pre-planning meeting a member of the local Pro-Life Council stated how glad she was that some “young blood” was getting involved in the movement. She added, “Some of us are older than dirt and we’re getting tired.” This statement may resonate with many.
The surge in pro-life activity at AMSL is due mainly to the efforts of one man, Royce Hood. Upon his arrival at the school he exhibited great enthusiasm for the pro-life cause. I was personally attracted to him because of his openness and vivacity. During his Orientation Week I asked him to be on my weekly radio show. He told our listeners that his reason for coming to AMSL was because of its pro-life mission. Then he added, “You know, I was born out of wedlock and I’m grateful that my mother had me.”
During his first year Royce joined our Lex Vitae (Law of Life) student organization. He distinguished himself by being present for weekly prayer vigils outside of the local Planned Parenthood. He also attended Lex Vitae’s annual Right to Life trip to Washington, D.C. to protest Roe v. Wade on January 22, 2010. His energy transformed the event! He was a catalyst for student activities connected with the March and gave a stirring interview on EWTN regarding the importance of the event.
In his second year Royce was elected President of Lex Vitae. He brought new zeal to the group. He sang, wrote music and began to expand the membership. One day he came to me and asked if he could have a carnival which he dubbed Vitae Fest. This would be, he said, a fund raiser to help defray the cost of students’ airfare to D.C. for the next March for Life in January. He said this could enable a larger Law School representation at the March. He wanted to fill an airplane with AMSL students.
I once had a pastor who said, “Never stifle initiative.” Although I doubted Royce’s estimates of how much money the event would garner, I felt he should be given the chance to try. After all, I thought, something is better than nothing. He exceeded all expectations and doubled the number of attendees. Royce had proven himself. I’ve never said not to him since.
This is an important lesson for all those in leadership positions─ we have to nurture the next generation. When a young person shows enthusiasm, is willing to accept responsibility and works hard as a grunt for the movement, they should be not only supported, but given a long leash for their energy and creativity. Sometimes they will take you where you feared to go. Or, perhaps even to places you do not want to go. But, quite honestly, while I can identify with both positions personally and as a school administrator AMSL has never been better with Royce leading the way.
There are certain qualities that a leader must possess.
The first is somewhat intangible─ charisma. Royce has an abundance of it. There is something so wholesome, so sincere and so open about him that, as the saying goes, “He lights up the room.” He has been elected to office and honored by his peers. People genuinely like him, young as well as old. So much so that the Naples Pro-Life Council, made up largely of senior citizens, gave him a seat on the Council, that he hopes will transfer to another law school student when he graduates this coming May.
Passion for the cause is vital. Perhaps Royce realized that his unexpected conception after Roe v. Wade put his own life in jeopardy. He is obviously someone who is glad to be alive and wants others to share this wonderful gift of life. Who knows how many others like Royce have been lost to abortion? How many parents will never know their own Royce? How bereft the world is without them! I am personally enriched for knowing him and because of him I love life more than ever. He invites others to share in his passion.
Vision is vital as well. Royce is a practical-romantic; “He sees the way things are and dreams of the way they can be.” He dreamed of bringing together pro-life leaders from around the country in order to form a vanguard for overturning Roe. He wildly exceeded all expectations convincing various leaders in the pro-life movement to gather at the National Press Club for a conference in January of 2012.
His stated goal was to begin to formulate an action plan to overturn Roe v. Wade. He even got the grand-dame and founder of the March for Life, Nellie Gray to appear at the first Summit and she gave the event her blessing. His passion caught on and Summit “2” was held on March 31, 2012, in conjunction with the anniversary of the death of Terri Shciavo. This began the process of establishing a unified voice for the many disparate groups for life scattered throughout the country.
Royce is not just a dreamer, he is a doer. He has phenomenal organizational skills. From lining up speakers, to cajoling other leaders to come on board, to choosing locations, transportation and catering, he is a genius. He has a way of putting an event together that makes everything run smoothly and keeps everyone happy. He also knows how to delegate jobs to others and makes them feel so important to the project.
Lastly, but not least, Royce is humble. He always defers to others. He respects authority and listens to concerns. He never seeks to be the center of attention. He is always willing to promote others to achieve his goals. For example, he uses me for a lot of the media attention his projects require. Quite honestly, he is more articulate than I am, but he knows a “Roman Collar” goes far for a photo-op. To be sure he has added to my fame.
But, I can honestly say, to borrow a line from Scripture, “He must increase and I must decrease.” I am glad to be used by him for this great cause.
Pro-Life leaders must be eager to identify and nurture future leaders. We can’t hold on because we think the movement or our organization can’t do without us or our personal ideas. Times do change and we have to move on. Technology and Obama will get the jump on us unless we encourage new blood to take the helm. This requires humility on our part too! With people like Royce the overturning of Roe .v Wade is inevitable.
Oh yes, one last thing; Royce is a man of prayer. Every meeting, every event begins with prayer. He cultivates a personal prayer life, composes hymns, goes to Mass and loves the Church. He knows that success will only come by God’s grace. His greatest prayer is always one of thanksgiving to God for being alive. At AMSL we join in his gratitude. He is a gift that has enriched all of us.