COLUMBIA—The future of the pro-life movement was well represented in Columbia on Jan. 9 by hundreds of Catholic youth.
In what has become an annual tradition, young people took part in the annual Stand Up for Life march and rally at the Statehouse, then walked to Township Auditorium for their own rally.
Organizers said the event drew many hundreds of youth and adult leaders, one of the largest turnouts ever. Many attendees placed donations of diapers, baby clothes, baby bottles and other items into baskets set up in the lobby for Birthright, an organization that helps women facing crisis pregnancies.
The rally featured prayer, reflection and a good-natured singing competition led by musician and youth minister Steve Angrisano. Participants also attended Mass celebrated by Msgr. Richard Harris, diocesan vicar general and pastor of St. Joseph Church in Columbia.
Angrisano urged the crowd to be willing to reach out to others to share God’s message of love.
He told the story of an appearance he made at another rally when he ended up talking and praying with a 14-year-old girl who found out during the event that her mother had died in a car accident. Several years later, he said, he encountered the same young woman who said his example convinced her to share faith with others.
“I didn’t do anything special, but someone else told me though to never say you didn’t do anything. God was with me at this moment,” Angrisano said. “I cooperated with His grace. That is all we can do is to be a reflection of the light He offers. To look at someone in their darkest troubles and help them is to make miracles happen.”
Angrisano asked them to consider that the evil of abortion will eventually be wiped out not by great political gestures or statements, but by the willingness of people who reach out to others in times of need and show them the miracle of life and God’s love.
Catholic speaker Leah Darrow, former contestant on America’s Top Model, gave a moving testimony about how she made some poor choices during her high school years and during her early career as a model. One day, she said, she walked away from a high-priced photo shoot and decided to turn her life back to God.
She urged young people to remember that both their bodies and souls are gifts from God.
“If we respect life, we must start with the love of ourselves,” she said. “Live up to the greatness God has given you. You and your life might be the only copy of the Gospel some people will ever read.”
Abbie Anne Truesdell, 17, of St. Mary Help of Christians Church in Aiken, said the day strengthened her faith and convictions.
“It was great to be around other young people who feel so strongly about the issue,” she said. “It really convinced me to stand up for the prolife cause and what I believe in no matter what anybody says.”
Photos by Christina Lee Knauss/Miscellany