CAMBRIDGE, Ont. – More than 450 young people from across Ontario gathered at Monsignor Doyle Secondary School here for one of the most successful Ontario Students for Life conferences ever organized.
The theme of the conference, the Culture of Life vs. the Culture of Death, was an apt reminder to student pro-lifers of the new threats to life and family emerging in the waning years of the 20th century.
Highlights of the conference included an address by Lisa Wiebe-Militello of South Carolina, who shared her experiences as a woman victimized by abortion. Other speakers included Monsignor Doyle principal Bernie Farwell who emphasized the sanctity of all life, and Campaign Life coalition national president Jim Hughes, who urged students to put their pro-life ideals into action at the local level.
As with other pro-life gatherings, the OSFL conference featured workshops, community-building exercises, entertainment, a social component and the celebration of Mass.
This year’s OSFL conference was exceptional not only for the large turnout, but for the enthusiasm and dedication of participants.
Emma Maan, organizer of the OSFL, said the host students from Monsignor Doyle school did a masterful job of pre-conference organization and preparation.
“It was amazing the amount of advance planning that went into this year’s conference,” Maan said. “The students went way out of their way to ensure a successful event.” In addition, the conference was actively promoted in high schools and universities throughout southern Ontario.
Maan said the reputation of OSFL and its annual conferences have been rising steadily over the last eight years. She cited a growing network of OSFL contacts in high schools and universities throughout Ontario as a positive development in young adult pro-life activity.
“This year’s conference had something for everyone,” Maan said. “There was the educational component, a call to action, a social element and a lot of fun activities. It was a well-rounded program and it speaks well for the efforts of the organizers.”
Bob Borys, a religion teacher at Monsignor Doyle and director of the school’s pro-life club, said the success of the conference wasn’t achieved without a great deal of work.
“We had a group of 10 to 15 students working since last March to prepare for the conference,” Borys told The Interim, “There were times when we didn’t think it would ever come off, but with a lot of work and prayer, we were able to make it work.”
Borys suggested the dedication and enthusiasm of the students bode well for the future of pro-life work in Ontario.
Students readily supported all aspects of the conference, and when perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was made available in the school chapel, at least a dozen students stayed up all night in silent prayer.
Ontario Students for Life are now preparing for their annual Skate for Life on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa. Emma Maan said the Skate for Life is tentatively scheduled for February 21-23, 1997.
The theme for the high profile event will be Taking a Stand.