By Christine M. Williams, Anchor Correspondent
NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. — “The change lies in all of us, the teens and children of my generation,” MacKenzie Long said, addressing a Pro-Life crowd. The young man, a senior at Bishop Stang High School in North Dartmouth, Mass., spoke at the Massachusetts Citizens for Life’s annual Assembly for Life at Faneuil Hall in Boston January 26.
He urged young people to reach out to millions of people through social media and other tools with the truth about abortion.
“Each year about 1.2 million babies are aborted, each year about 7,322 children are adopted and there are roughly 500,000 people waiting to adopt a child. These numbers need to change,” he said. “It may take us some time, but we can do it. The facts are there, and the people are ready. So let’s change the law one heart at a time.”
Long’s speech won MCFL’s Pro-Life oratory contest in March of last year, and he competed at the national level. Anne Fox, president of MCFL, said of assembly attendees listening to Long, “They were very impressed with his reasoning about abortion and his presentation.”
Long credits his parents and his Catholic education with teaching him the value of every human life and supporting him in defending the unborn.
Every January a group of students head to the March for Life in Washington D.C. This year, Long was one of nearly 100 students in attendance. He told The Anchor that he was impressed by the “sheer magnitude” of the hundreds of thousands of people gathering in support of the unborn.
“It was amazing to view,” he said. “There were people everywhere on every corner, every inch.”
Bishop Stang has many other opportunities for students to support life. The Pro-Life Club travels to the State House in Boston to lobby legislators. Members organize a silent protest day for children killed by abortion where they dress in black, do not speak and carry a sign that says, “I’m silent for those who are silenced by abortion.” In the spring, they hand every student a cupcake with a card that reads, “Happy Birthday because everyone deserves a birthday.”
Long and his classmate, senior Theresa Gallagher, serve as the club’s co-presidents.
Gallagher, one of 14 children, said her family has always been open about their Pro-Life values. She has been involved in many Pro-Life activities at her school and spoke about the preeminence of the life issues.
“Life is absolutely fundamental, and our society needs to protect it, so if there’s anything I want to fight for, it’s the right to life,” she said.
She added that the crowd at the March for Life, which she attended this year, represents the millions of people across the country, many of them young people, who support life.
“It opens your eyes to I’m not alone in the Pro-Life movement,” she said. “You have that feeling of solidarity.”
Amanda Tarantelli, the campus minister at Bishop Stang who advises the Pro-Life Club, said that the school takes students to the march because experiencing the crowd walking and praying together energizes them.
“I think it helps to reignite your own fire and passion for that cause because you realize that we can make a difference,” she said.
Tarantelli has attended the march with students for eight of her 10 years at Bishop Stang. She said that the Lord is present at the march: “You can definitely feel the graces of God working on everybody who’s there.”
Tarantelli said that another important function of the school’s Pro-Life Club is to teach students to articulate their beliefs. The school has participated in state government lobby days so that students can learn how to address politicians and hopefully effect change now and later on in life.
“It’s not just about saying you’re Pro-Life. It’s about fighting for Pro-Life causes,” she said.
Tarantelli was the first to encourage Long to compete in MCFL’s oratory contest last year. She called him a “great speaker” who communicates his “great passion.” She said he did an excellent job at this year’s assembly.
“He commands attention when he speaks. He’s so confident in who he is as a presenter that you’re drawn into listening to him,” she said. “To hear from not only a young person but from a young man about our need to end abortion, I really think stood out to the crowd.”