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First Pro-Life Youth Rally hosted at ND

Katie Laird | Monday, April 4, 2005

The Notre Dame Right to Life (RTL) Club hosted its first annual Pro-Life Youth Rally on Saturday, where more than 100 high school students and youth group members gathered together and learn and to listen about abortion awareness and virtuous living. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the students, volunteers, coordinators and Notre Dame undergraduates assembled in Lafortune Ballroom for the rally, celebrating with famous speakers, music, food and a prayer service. Arina Grossu is the Youth Education Outreach commissioner for ND Right to Life who helped organize the event. Two groups of RTL formed an outreach program last year to reach out to high school students to advocate chastity and to create abortion awareness. “We wanted to connect with the high schools in local areas with our students here as well as other organizations,” Grossu said. “It is an opportunity to come together.” Aimee Shelide was the emcee of the event and works to help organize Notre Dame volunteers with RTL. She was pleased with the rally’s outcome. “There’s a lot of positive energy,” Shelide said. The rally included two world-renowned speakers, Dan DiSilva and Trish Short. DiSilva, a musician who has played around with world with musicians such as James Taylor, the Chieftains and B.B. King, spoke to the crowd about his experiences. After 10 years of touring, DiSilva formed the band Crispin, a Catholic funk band that uses its music to spread the Catholic message to listeners. DiSilva spoke to the students about chastity, basing his talks on the Theology of the Body writings by Pope John Paul II. Short, a former model and actress turned producer and director who for the past 10 years has been producing pro-life videos and music for pro-life ministries throughout the world. She spoke to youth about the power of purity and charity and the role of faith and scripture in today’s culture. Lisa Bonadies and Elizabeth Johnston are two sophomores from Marion High School in South Bend who attended the rally and listened to the speakers. “I think they really got their point across,” Bonadies said. “[DiSilva] really communicated with kids,” Johnston said.In addition to the speakers, RTL members performed skits on chastity and showed a power point presentation on abortion awareness. There was also a prayer service and music performed by DiSilva. Vendors from Indiana RTL, Reason Enough to Act and ND RTL were at the rally selling T-shirts, and handing out pamphlets other literature to inform students. The Women’s Care Center was also there showing support for their message. “We’re here to support what they’re doing,” said Judy Madden, the Director of Education for the center. “They’ve got a friend here in the community.” The Women’s Care Center is a resource center that was started 20 years ago by a Notre Dame professor, and has extended to 12 care centers and extends assistance to over 10,000 women. It reaches out to women who face unexpected pregnancies. It is the biggest provider for this type of work in Northwest Indiana. E-mails and flyers about the rally were sent to 7 diocese including Chicago, Fort Wayne and Grand Rapids areas. However, many high schools were on spring break this week and were unable to attend the rally. “This could have been doubled … if it were at a different time,” Grossu said. “We want this to grow into something ND RTL is known for. Notre Dame as a premiere Catholic university in the nation and in the world should have a real voice in spreading the pro-life message to the youth of the nation.” Grossu is optimistic about the future of the rally. “I’m so excited about the feedback we’re getting from the media,” she said. “It surpassed my expectations.”The rally ended with a mass in the basilica which included singing by the ND Women’s Liturgical Choir.