MANASSAS, Va. – Catholic educators preparing for this week’s National Pro-Life T-Shirt Week told The Cardinal Newman Society that teaching and inspiring students about the dignity of every human life is fundamental and necessary for faithful Catholic education.
The Newman Society spoke with educators at two high schools recognized as 2014 Schools of Excellence by the Society’s Catholic Education Honor Roll about the importance of the pro-life message in Catholic education and their participation in the national event.
According to the educators, Catholic schools are uniquely placed to influence both students and society by serving as a launching pad for the pro-life message. If Catholic schools can faithfully impart the message that every human life is invaluable, they can instigate a positive trickle effect on the rest of education and society.
This year’s National Pro-Life T-Shirt Week runs from yesterday until May 4 and is sponsored by the American Life League. Students and contestants across the country are encouraged to wear pro-life t-shirts and promote a pro-life message by taking pictures and sharing them on Instagram using the hashtags #NPLTW and #LifeDefender. Many faithful Catholic high schools have adopted the week as one of their numerous activities to promote the pro-life message.
“Catholic education is critical in supporting programs where pro-life events are interwoven into the activities of the school,” said Dr. Jamie Arthur, manager of the Catholic Education Honor Roll. “Opportunities created to participate in events such as these offer a way to get students involved in reinforcing the Church’s teachings on the protection and defense of life.”
West Catholic High School in Grand Rapids, Mich., a 2014 School of Excellence, observes this event every year, according to West Catholic’s Students for Life advisor Patrick Nugent. Students and faculty are encouraged to wear pro-life t-shirts and “photos from the day are posted on the school’s website and social media accounts and are also shared with the website of the local Right to Life affiliate,” Nugent said.
The pro-life message is paramount for Catholic education, Nugent explained:
National Pro-Life T-Shirt Day and other similar activities serve a number of purposes. They give currently-involved students another reason to get excited about the pro-life cause. They can bring new interest to students who may not otherwise have reason to get involved in the cause. They also can be first steps to a lifelong involvement in the pro-life movement.
A vigorous respect for and promotion of life is integral to the Catholic school. Catholic schools are inherently pro-life institutions because of their respect for and desire to build up the whole person of their students, each individually precious creations of God. This respect for the human person is then carried outside of the school to all of the people of the world, especially the poor and needy.
Leslie Mitros, head of school for Aquinas Academy in Gibsonia, Penn.—also a School of Excellence—noted that Pro-Life T-Shirt Week is just one of many ways in which faithful Catholic schools can impart the importance of pro-life issues. Students can learn more about the dignity of human life through school-sponsored pro-life groups, such as Aquinas’s Vivat Vita club, and by participating in fundraisers for local crisis pregnancy centers.
“Additionally, students do a baby bottle campaign, participate in 40 Days for Life by standing prayerfully outside of Pittsburgh’s Planned Parenthood center, and attend the March for Life,” Mitros said.
The impact of the pro-life message can have a significant impact not only on the individual but also on the local and future communities of alumni, Nugent observed.
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“Former members of the West Catholic Students for Life club continue to be active in the pro-life cause at college,” he said. Currently, several West Catholic alumni hold leadership positions with pro-life clubs at Marquette University and other colleges. Some alumni have even started brand new pro-life clubs at their respective colleges, Nugent said.
“Opportunities such as these are clear examples of how Catholic education provides an environment where the Church’s teaching regarding the sanctity of life can be nurtured, lived and shared,” the Newman Society’s Arthur stated. “In light of the countercultural message students are inundated with, faithful Catholic schools truly serve as instruments of evangelization for society and the Church.”
Published with permission