Numerous professions have formed specialized groups to address the pro-life struggle within their respective spheres of influence – Physicians for Life perhaps most prominently comes to mind – but one area that still needs to be focused on is the realm of teaching.
A Canadian Teachers for Life organization was started in the mid-1980s by Louis Di Rocco, then a volunteer with Campaign Life Coalition and a teacher with the Toronto public school board, and several other teachers. Over the next few years, they staged several events and attempted to network teachers together in the pro-life struggle.
Perhaps the group’s most infamous moment occurred early on, when it sponsored a pro-life conference at Toronto’s St. Michael’s College that drew the attention of the Globe and Mail newspaper, a publication not particularly noted for its friendliness toward the pro-life cause. A damning Globe editorial duly excoriating the nascent Teachers for Life group followed, which in turn attracted even more media coverage from various outlets. With a laugh, Di Rocco – who later became a Roman Catholic priest – recalls spending much of that next week engaged in media interviews with a number of journalists.
“Even the CBC came by my house to get some preliminary information for a report,” he says. “But in the end, they never ran it. CITY-TV also interviewed me.”
Teachers for Life designed a brochure and distributed it at various schools. It also attracted some members from outside the Toronto area and Ontario. Some of its representatives gave a presentation to an association of school principals on the pro-life issue.
But an increasingly busy schedule necessitated Di Rocco backing away more and more from his Teachers for Life duties. He became involved in the new Family Coalition Party of Ontario, eventually rising to the post of president, and later served as a key international representative for Campaign Life Coalition, attending important international conferences such as the UN’s Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. Later, he completed studies for the priesthood and is now stationed in the Madoc and Marmora areas of Ontario.
With the demise of Di Rocco’s involvement in Teachers for Life came a dormant period in the life of the organization itself. Other teachers failed to take the reins from Di Rocco and the organization more or less went into limbo for a number of years.
However, a desire to revive Teachers of Life has arisen with Di Rocco’s brother Dan, a retired Toronto-area Catholic high school principal and circulation manager for The Interim. He has been in talks for the last several months with a view to seeing what can be done to once again give teachers a vehicle to channel their pro-life energies.
“There’s a great need for it,” he says, recalling having made a presentation on abortion and human rights at the previously mentioned St. Michael’s conference. “There are lots of teachers who are pro-life, but nothing is binding them together.”
Di Rocco says reviving Teachers of Life will mean identifying pro-life teachers and pulling them together. They can then fulfill tasks such as provide students with ready-made resources on life issues when students inquire about them. Teachers can also support each other, as well as share ideas and materials. Other key initiatives can include training students to make pro-life presentations and strategizing on tactics to make young people more receptive to the pro-life message, as well as encourage them to get involved tangibly.
He stresses that such an organization would be open to any teacher, regardless of location in Canada or denominational affiliation. Although the earlier version of Teachers for Life was dominated by Catholics, it would be preferable if the revived one has a diversity of backgrounds representing it.
“It would be for any teacher who cares about life, anywhere,” he says. Di Rocco would eventually like to see a more cosmopolitan group formed that would encompass teachers throughout the world, perhaps with a name such as International Educators for Life.
An information meeting was held in Brampton, Ont. last November to get the ball rolling. About three dozen teachers are already on the list of interested parties for such a project.
If you are a teacher in Canada interested in getting involved and/or in networking with other teachers on pro-life issues, get in touch with Dan Di Rocco at e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (416) 204-1687.