By Dave Jolivet, Anchor Editor
NORTH EASTON, Mass. — Soldiers may be born with the courage to stand up for what they believe and to fight for it, but the skills needed must be honed and nurtured.
That’s the reason every soldier who defends this country has to experience boot camp — where the person receives basic training and the discipline to face adversity head on with courage and conviction.
The fight against the culture of death is not an easy one, especially when one thinks about who leads that battle. But for the last four years a group of courageous, dedicated Pro-Life soldiers have expended countless hours preparing themselves and subsequently others to defend the right to life from conception to natural death.
Hosted by the Fall River Diocese’s Pro-Life Apostolate/Project Rachel, the fifth annual Pro-Life Boot Camp will be held on the campus of Stonehill College in North Easton from July 17-19.
Facilitated by Pro-Life “veterans” 25-year-old Jocelyn Trindade and 21-year-old Cassandra Borges, the boot camp is offered to young people of high school age who will experience a weekend where they have the opportunity to deepen their faith and relationship with Christ and then go out and help transform a culture that has derailed from the moral tracks of life.
“The next generation of Pro-Life leaders is rising up, and young people themselves are leading the way,” said diocesan Pro-Life Apostolate director Marian Desrosiers. “Join us and be part of the ‘New Evangelization.’ Protect, cherish and defend all human life.”
It’s a weekend filled with prayer, Eucharistic Adoration, reflection, camaraderie and fun.
Trindade and Borges have been involved with the boot camp since its inception in 2011. The pair has been involved with Desrosiers and assistant director of the Pro-Life Apostolate, Jean Arsenault, for many years.
Trindade is a UMass Dartmouth graduate and works as a YWkids program director for the YWCA in Southeastern Mass., and Borges graduated from Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. Both have extolled the benefits of the boot camps and have seen many former campers return to the program as junior staff team members.
Several former attendees shared some experiences with The Anchor.
Grace Valley, who is currently studying at Framingham State University said, “Pro-Life Boot Camp was an experience that I wouldn’t change for the world. It was a weekend filled with fun, new friends, and most importantly, a shared ideal and love of God. I was lucky enough to attend the first-ever version of the camp. I learned so much about myself, about what it is to be Pro-Life, and about my faith, and was supported by the amazing staff and my fellow campers. It was truly an amazing experience that I will hold dear to me for life.”
“Pro-Life Boot Camp is a great time to show and live out your faith with people who share and help you to grow in your faith,” said Joshua Correia of Bishop Stang High School. “I enjoyed being able to live out my faith with others who do the same. We helped each other grow in our faith and be stronger Catholics and be more Pro-Life! We were trained so that we were always ready to help the Pro-Life movement in whichever way we can!”
Several former campers who came back to volunteer as junior staff explained why they felt the need to be there for their younger peers.
“I got the privilege of attending Pro-Life Boot Camp as a camper and as a part of the junior staff. Both times that I participated in the camp, I had a great experience that I can look back on with great memories. This weekend at Stonehill College is filled with great opportunities to enrich your faith and meet other young people who share your same beliefs and views. From this experience I have made many long-time friends and learned a lot about the Pro-Life movement,” said Caroline Gaughan, Johnson & Wales University, former camper and junior staff member.
“Pro-Life Boot Camp was a great experience! I learned a lot and made many new friends. I enjoyed it so much as a camper that I came back to help out as a junior staff member so that I could ensure a great experience for the campers,” said Hector Gonzalez, Stonehill College, former camper and junior staff member.
“For campers and staff members, Pro-Life Boot Camp is one of the most effective ways to foster the culture of life. In an immersive and dynamic way, it engages the mind and heart through activity, discussion, and prayer, and its success each year ultimately comes from the fact that it has Christ as its center,” said Nicole O Leary, University of Notre Dame, former camper and current junior staff member.
“Pro-Life Boot Camp showed me that being Pro-Life isn’t just a belief, it is a joyful way of life. At camp, we learned about life issues, but also had a blast in the process! From this experience, I gained a community of friends and an awareness of what it means to be Pro-Life every day,” said Eileen Corkery, Boston College, former camper and junior staff member.
The weekend runs from Friday morning, July 17 until Sunday afternoon, July 19.
For more information about the Pro-Life Boot Camp, or for a registration form, contact the diocesan Pro-Life Apostolate at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508-675-1311; or visit the Fall River Diocese Pro-Life Boot Camp on Facebook.