Editor’s note: The first-place winner in the High School Division was Ebelechiyem Anuoluwatele Okafor, a junior at Bishop Stang High School in North Dartmouth. As of press time, The Anchor had not received a copy of the winning essay.
Second place — High School Division
Before the pilgrimage to the March for Life took place, my parish gathered for prayer services, Eucharistic Adoration, and Rosaries dedicated to the unborn. This Spiritual preparation was not done a couple of weeks before the pilgrimage but took place throughout the year. Before we departed for the pilgrimage, the pastor of my parish read the story of the Visitation to my youth group. He emphasized the moment when John “leaped” in Elizabeth’s womb. The Gospel of Luke proves that at the moment of conception a new life comes into existence and that the baby has dignity just as any other human being. This passage was in the back of my mind throughout our entire pilgrimage because of the word “leaped,” proving that the child inside the womb is fully alive.
I went to Washington, D.C. with the intention to advocate for the unborn. Participating in the March for Life now means so much more than just simply standing up for the people in society who cannot be heard. Experiencing the march for the first time and seeing so many people fight for the same cause was humbling and sparked a desire in me to bring about change. The desire to bring about this change does not just come from human beings, it comes God and His mercy. It was not just the actual march that strengthened my conviction of the dignity of the human person, but the Masses, Eucharistic Adoration, and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy that prepared me for the march. Participating in all these forms of prayer made me realize I was not going into this fight alone but that I was marching alongside many people who were connected through Christ. The march is more than a protest to me; it is about opening the eyes of the people to see the love and mercy that God has for all of us.
Pope Francis once said, “We are called to protect humanity, and this means, in the first place, accepting it and respecting it as it was created.” Pope Francis explains that the first step in protecting humanity is acknowledging the life of the unborn. Once that is acknowledged, one can respect and give the baby the dignity he or she deserves. With Christ as our leader, we shared in His abundant love and infinite mercy. Due to the abundant amount of mercy that we have been given through Christ, we are always forgiven of our sins no matter the severity.
The Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade did more than just legalize abortion. This legal case shows the power and the magnitude of society to control the world’s outlook on social issues such as abortion. It is important that as Catholics we stand out from the rest of society and stop politely tolerating the situation at hand and pray for the courage to become the voice of the voiceless. My experience at the March for Life made me realize that as time progresses things begin to slowly change. It comes down to people in society realizing the unborn baby in the womb is a person. The only way that this can be accomplished is if society is moved by the mercy of Christ. When she realized that the baby inside Mary’s womb was the Christ Child, Elizabeth was overcome with joy. Like Elizabeth, we are called to recognize and care for life in the womb. This way we too can be filled with joy as we experience the love and mercy of God.
Bishop Connolly High School, Fall River
First place — Junior High School Division
On Jan. 27, 2017, my perspective on the Pro-Life movement changed forever. I attended the Pro-Life March in Washington, D.C. with my school. A crowd filled up the mall surrounding the Washington Monument, which seemed like one million people, but was realistically only about a few hundred thousand. I always thought that I was a true Pro-Life advocate, but now I know that I truly did not understand the meaning. Now, I do. To be Pro-Life is to respect all life from conception to natural death. We all have heard that before, but Pope Francis reminds us, again, “We are called to protect our humanity — and respecting it as it was created.”
At the march, almost every speaker stressed that the Women’s March, that took place one week before, received more media than the Pro-Life March has ever gotten. They advocated for pro-choice rights, while this march advocated that “Women’s Rights Begin in the Womb.” Watching Vice-President Pence speak on behalf of President Trump gave me hope that Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton will be stopped. The most inspiring part of the entire journey was simply the power of one. As we were tiredly walking a hill to reach the final stretch of the march, a young college student began the Rosary. She was standing in the middle of thousands of people and began to pray the Apostle’s Creed. By the middle of the prayer, almost every person in my sight was praying. Being able to tangibly see one person making a change was the moment where God was truly showing me what His Creation has done.
The Pro-Life March has truly changed my perspective on all issues regarding Pro-Life. The quote: “Go and do likewise” expresses what the people who attended the Pro-Life March are called to do from what we have had the blessing of being a part of. I hope that I may continue to grow in my knowledge of Pro-Life issues and hope to be able to attend the Pro-Life March in Washington, D.C. once again.
Grade 8, All Saints Catholic School, New Bedford
Second place — Junior High School Division
As Pope Francis said, “We are called to show mercy because mercy has first been shown to us.” Every human deserves to have respect and this includes the voiceless babies living in the womb. Some may say that because the fetus has not been born yet, it depends on the mother for survival, and therefore life is not present. This thought, however, is incorrect. In fact, it has been scientifically proven that at the moment of conception, a life is created.
Catholics believe that life begins at conception and ends at natural death. A mother’s right to an abortion is a belief that is unsupported because the mother is willingly choosing to take away that child’s life. A child is not just a parasite, as some people would call it, but a living and beautiful human being that has been created by God. One frequently made argument is that it isn’t a human because the baby is unconscious and cannot make decisions for him or herself. This statement is indeed partially true in the sense that it cannot fend for him or herself in the world, but the question is, how does this baby differ from one outside the womb? A one month old is not conscious of what is going on either, nor does he or she have the capacity to make decisions on his or her own. Does that mean that he or she is not a human being and does not deserve to experience the joys of life? Of course not, because “like the Good Samaritan, may we always treat each person with merciful love and respect that affirms the gift of his or her life.”
Abortion is not the only option as many think, because there is also adoption. I do not know the story of how or why I was put up for adoption, or even my birth parents who made the choice to give me up, but I am glad that they did. If I had been aborted, then I would not have the amazing mom that I do today. My sister is also adopted and we are not biologically related, but she, too, could have been aborted. Luckily, she and I were put up for adoption and are living happily. The saying “don’t take what’s not yours,” applies to everyone, not just children. That innocent baby’s life is not yours to take, for he or she belongs to God.
Grade 8, All Saints Catholic School, New Bedford