October 21, 2011
One of the most encouraging and
effective assets of the pro-life movement is the next generation of
Americans coming into adulthood. Several years ago, in a study of those who
are now between the ages of 18 to 33 (so called Millennials, Gen Y or Echo
Boomers), it was revealed that this generation strongly opposes abortion.
Our nation is seeing this belief among young
people demonstrated in a variety of youth-led pro-life organizations such as
Live Action (led by Lila Rose), Students for Life of America, Generation
Life and Generations for Life. The commitment, enthusiasm and ingenuity of
this generation to promote the dignity of human life and to oppose abortion
and other attacks against this dignity are truly impressive.
Last Saturday, at the Bishops’ Pro Life Conference
banquet, the pro-life conviction of young people was also on display. The
banquet program included presentation of the State Pro-Life Essay Contest
awards and reading of the essays by the winners.
In January each year, the pro-life directors in
the three dioceses of Nebraska sponsor a pro-life essay contest for students
in grades 7 through 11. The winners of each diocesan contest automatically
compete in the state essay contest, sponsored by the State Council of the
Knights of Columbus and my office, the State Office of the Bishops’ Pastoral
Plan for Pro Life Activities.
The theme for this contest, and the winning essays
for the state contest, are chosen by the State Coordinating Committee of the
Bishops’ Pastoral Plan for Pro Life Activities, which is comprised of the
diocesan pro-life directors, the pro-life chair couple for the Knights of
Columbus, diocesan representatives for the Council of Catholic Women and
directors of the diocesan Family Life offices.
The theme chosen for this year’s essay contest was
the following: Mother Teresa said "How can there be too many children?
That’s like saying there are too many flowers." Various national and
international groups say that the world is overpopulated. Make a persuasive
case as to why this is not the case.
The winners of this year’s state essay contest
7th Grade: Emily Kimball from St.
Boniface Parish in Callaway
8th Grade: Tina Le from St. Mary School
and Parish in Lincoln
9th Grade: James Hytrek from St. James
Parish in Cortland
10th Grade: Alyssa Hurd from Lourdes
Central Catholic School and St. Benedict Parish in Nebraska City
11th Grade: Marie Wathen, from Pius X
High School and St. Peter Parish in Lincoln
On behalf of the Bishops of Nebraska and the
entire Church, I congratulate these fine young people for their exceptional
essays and enthusiasm for the pro-life cause.
At World Youth Day in Denver (1993), Pope John
Paul II challenged young people to "Offer your youthful energies to building
a civilization of Christian love. Be witness of God’s love for the innocent
and the weak, for the poor and oppressed."
"At this stage of history," he continued, "the
liberating message of the Gospel of life has been put into your hands. And
the mission of proclaiming it to the ends of the earth is now passing to
your generation. Like the great apostle Paul, you too must feel the full
urgency of the task: "Woe to me if I do not evangelize" (1 Cor. 9:16). Woe
to you if you do not succeed in defending life.
"The church needs your energies, your enthusiasm,
your youthful ideals, in order to make the Gospel of life penetrate the
fabric of society, transforming people’s hearts and the structures of
society in order to create a civilization of true justice and love. Now more
than ever, in a world that is often without light and without the courage of
noble ideals, people need the fresh, vital spirituality of the Gospel."
Blessed John Paul expressed his confidence in young people’s "faith in
Christ" and ability to rise to this challenge by recalling the words of St.
Paul: "I have great confidence in you, I have great pride in you; I am
filled with encouragement, I am overflowing with joy" (2 Cor. 7:4).
You can contact Greg at The Nebraska
Catholic Conference, 215 Centennial Mall South Suite 310, Lincoln, NE 68508;