In May, The Interim awarded the first annual Father Ted Colleton Scholarship to Sheena McMullin, of the Rivier Academy in Prince Albert, Sask. and Stephen Tardiff of St. Michael’s College School in Toronto, Ont. The $1,000 scholarships were awarded to these two high school students for their essays on the responsibilities of youth in the pro-life movement. The Interim congratulates Sheena and Stephen for their achievement and thanks the almost 30 students who participated in the essay contest. The two winning entries are reprinted below.

Youth must pray, become active

We, the youth, are the future. I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase so much it’s almost worn out, but really, think about it. All that we will be and could be depends on us. And without the guidance of God in our future, where would we end up? The youth must take responsibility for their faith, what they believe in, their actions, thoughts, and presence in a community. “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young but rather set an example for those who believe in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity” (1 Tim 4:12).

Abortion is terrible and youth need to find a standing in it. Most of the girls in my Grade 12 class at a Catholic school believe abortion is a satisfactory way out of a situation that can “only get worse with a child.” What if that child made the difference in one couple’s life who wished to conceive with all their hearts? Yet there are women who are literally throwing babies away. If the youth of today believe that this is a satisfactory “solution”, where is our world heading?

We must take a stand and choose life not death, for it is imperative to our survival. It is important that the youth contribute to the growth of the pro-life movement because soon there will not be anyone else who is going to be around to do it. We must set an example for those who try to subjugate the youth, voices of the future.

Life is the most precious gift that God has given His children. We have absolutely no right to take it away for any reason.

Wouldn’t you be a little bit angry if you gave someone a gift that was once precious and invaluable to you, but when they couldn’t find any room for it they threw it away? Both euthanasia and abortion are like this. It is the job of the youth to aid in the prevention of the discarding of life as if it were junk. God does not make junk and He certainly didn’t make youthful exuberance so teenagers can get into all kinds of trouble. We as youth, have everything it takes to change the world, we just have to learn how to accomplish the task.

So, how do we do it? It’s a lot easier than some may think. In fact I can sum up the first step in one simple yet profoundly powerful word – prayer. So many young adults are trying to run around with hundreds of pounds of stress on their shoulders. Between jobs, schoolwork and extracurricular activities there is hardly enough time to think, never mind take on the challenge of volunteer service. I often find myself saying, “I wish I could be more involved in volunteer activities,” and God says, “You can.” Volunteer work begins with prayer, and the most important contribution to the growth of the pro-life movement is constant prayer. After all, it is the most powerful weapon against the works of evil that God has ever given us. God says “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst.” (Matt 18:20) Can you imagine the possibilities if youth across the world were praying for the common good? We could abolish abortion and euthanasia.

Prayer is the first step, but maybe God has placed a longing upon one’s heart to be more active in the contribution to His will but you still have no time. Pray for the time.

If it’s time you want, it’s time He will give. For nothing is impossible with God. (Luke 1:37) Father Ted Colleton is an amazing man who has done amazing things in the pro-life movement, but what happens when he is no longer around? The answer is the youth. We must carry on the fight by prayer, petition, community work and even becoming pro-life activists like Father Ted. Right at this very moment God is calling all youth to make a difference, to be a light for the world, and to help carry out his will on earth by contributing to the growth of the pro-life movement.

Why should the youth even bother to do this? It’s a waste of one’s time when one could be hanging out with friends, doing homework or who knows what else, right? Wrong. Not only is it the responsibility of youth to contribute, but it should be done out of free will. The moral character for the right doing and contribution to the will of God should already be ingrained in our youth. I recognize that we look for big signs and that if it’s not spelled out we question like doubting Thomases. “Bigness” gives us an incentive and reason to do something for God. “Just give me a sign and I’ll believe.” I’m asking the youth to set aside this attitude of apathy because God says “believe and I will give you a sign.”

It is the same way with contributing to the pro-life movement. We say, “Show me a difference and then I’ll help.” All the while God is saying, “Help, and I’ll show you the difference.” I often find myself struggling with the phrase “How can little old me make a difference, I’m only one person”?

The truth is, a thousand “little” differences make one huge difference. This is why it is our responsibility to contribute to the pro-life movement as youth as a whole, but also as youth as individuals. The difference is us. It starts with one little prayer, then two prayers, then three, four and five. Soon those five become activists and five others start praying for the activists and maybe the next five set up an adoption home and the next five open up a crisis pregnancy center. We are all interconnected and God needs all kinds of people to do all kinds of jobs in order to shape the world into His will.

God is showing us our responsibility, and if prayed for he will openly present the opportunity for us to exercise that responsibility. We must take up our responsibility as youth, find our place in the pro-life movement and make a world of a difference.

No option but to be pro-life

By Stephen TardiffYou have received without charge, give without charge (Mt 10:8). Each of us, made in the image and likeness of God, has received the gift of his or her own life from God. We are not masters of our own lives but stewards who will someday have to render an account to God for those lives He has given us. Once conceived, human life continues until natural death. What makes abortion and euthanasia so wrong is that they reject the gift of life God has given us. Those who perform these atrocities put themselves in place of God and decide for themselves who lives and who dies. But those of us who respect God and His commandments know that the direct killing of innocent human life at either end of the continuum is a grave moral evil and we have an obligation to try to stop it. Since we have been given the free gift of life, we must put it at the service of life.

Those of us who have been given more should contribute more. Those of us who have been welcomed into the pro-life families, raised in God-fearing homes, educated in morally sound schools, have a particularly grave responsibility to bring light to the world. There are those who only get their values from the media, who believe that the only sin is intolerance and the greatest freedom is the right to choose abortion. Not to recognize their own dignity as children of God, they fail to recognize it in the unborn, the disabled and the elderly. Those of us who see must help those who are blind.

While it is possible for an individual to do much good for the pro-life cause – praying, writing letters, lobbying politicians, helping expectant moms – we will usually be much more effective together. This is because of the enormity of the threat we are faced with – a society that provides free abortifacient contraceptives, experiments on embryos conceived in petri dishes, establishes taxpayer-funded free-standing abortuaries where babies are killed, imprisons grandmothers for praying outside these extermination centres, sympathizes with the parents who kill their disabled children and clamour for the right to euthanize the old terminally ill. As Pope John Paul II says, “we are facing what can be called a ‘structure of sin’ which opposes human life not yet born.”

Yet, “where sin abounds, there does grace much more abound” (Rm 5:20). In the midst of this culture of death have arisen truly inspiring leaders to insist on the right to the life of the unborn child: Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa, Dr. John Willkie, Joseph Schiedler, Rev. Ken Campbell and Linda Gibbons. These leaders are associated with institutions or organizations put in service of life.

There are many options. Those of us who are interested in politics can join Campaign Life Coalition or its youth division, Campaign Life Coalition Youth. This organization tries to elect pro-life politicians and to get legislation passed to protect the unborn and to prevent the legislation of euthanasia. Young people are invited to the March for Life, Life Chain Sunday, youth rallies and education forums. Others might be interested in transforming the culture through education: Alliance for Life organizations work with the media and schools. Still others might want to help provide counselling and assistance to pregnant women themselves. Throughout the country, there are crisis pregnancy centres which provide the necessities of life to expectant mothers in difficult situations, and to help mothers and babies celebrate the gift of life. Finally, those who are called to the religious life can devote themselves to the pro-life cause through organizations like Priests for Life.

Perhaps even those who do not have a religious vocation should think of a more serious commitment to the pro-life cause. Many countries ask young people to devote a year or two to public service after university. Given the gravity of the moral evils facing us, the time may be right to ask a similar commitment of pro-life youth. Think of the infusion of talent this would bring into the pro-life movement.

Moreover, young graduates coming right from school should be encouraged to contribute to the pro-life movement in the field of their own expertise. What if there was a cadre of pro-life doctors, engineers, teachers, and journalists willing to contribute a year or two to pro-life work? After all, if we want to stop abortion and other evils, we will first have to transform the culture. And what better way is there than through the talents of young people?

Because of its pre-eminence in the culture of death, the media will need special attention. If we are to reach a wider audience, we will have to use all the means of communication to create a climate that once again affirms the dignity of the human person. Radio, television, movies, magazines, newspaper and video, all influence the way we see the world and we must use them to show the evils of abortion and euthanasia. Above all, we must inculcate respect for all life in all its stages if we are to prevent the deliberate murder of our weakest members.

The challenge to create a truly pro-life culture is daunting. Even today we know that many of those who should be sitting beside us in our classrooms, churches and movies theaters have been killed before they saw the light of day. Their untimely deaths in their mothers’ wombs have prevented them from doing the work God intended them to do. Now is the time to halt the downward spiral or our own children will inherit an even more depraved world. As educated young people with a moral vision, he have no other option than to be pro-life. It is time we became serious about creating a culture truly hospitable to the dignity of the human person from conception to natural death.