Local youth, adults travel to
Topeka for pro-life rally
By Melissa Conway
Special to the Register
Editor’s Note: Melissa Conway is 18 and a freshman journalism major at Garden City Community College. She attends St. Dominic Church.
More than a 1,000 people from across the state, including 55 youth and adults from the Diocese of Dodge City, journeyed to Topeka Jan. 22 for the pro-life rally.
“Our kids, our diocese, made a huge sacrifice to get there that day – real effort financially, money-wise – but I think we do it because it’s important,” said Father Wesley Schawe, pastor at St. Dominic in Garden City and St. Stanislaus in Ingalls, who was one of the leaders on the trip.
Father Schawe said this trip was important for three reasons:
“It’s important for people who go to be better informed and better advocates for the cause of life. It’s good for the people that see us know that the pro-life movement is young and diverse and energetic. It’s good in part that we have young people go from our diocese because it’s an element of their education and formation that they might not be otherwise getting,” he said.
After waking up in the early morning, the group traveled by bus to Topeka.
Father Schawe said this group is mostly Hispanic. “I think we open the eyes of the rest of the state, the rest of the pro-life movement. If you want the country to be pro-life, don’t forget the Hispanic community because they already are.”
On the way to Topeka the youth and adults played educational games, learned about abortion and prayed the Rosary. During this time they also were given several statistics and facts about the leading abortion provider, Planned Parenthood.
“My favorite part was learning about Planned Parenthood. They sounded innocent. I was completely in shock when I heard about the bad things they did,” said Kiley Demel, a senior from Hoisington. “We got a pamphlet and it showed us the stages of a baby going through abortion phases. It opened my mind to how horrible abortion is.”
Sister Rocio was one of the adults on the trip and said she liked the introduction and feedback of Father Schawe during the trip.
“Because it helps understand what we are doing, why we are traveling and we can get the resources,” she said.
Instead of going straight to the rally like they had in previous years, the group went to Mass first this year at the Performing Arts Center in Topeka.
Father Schawe said the event has been better each year the diocese has gone.
“The organization of the day was by far the best. Starting the day off with Mass was the best way to start our day. The Mass was very youth oriented, which was a fantastic thing they did.”
Rudy Martinez, an adult, said he liked how the priest at Mass said that “the youth are taking over” the pro-life movement.
“He brings us hope. The youth are pro-life so we are hoping for less abortions later,” Martinez said.
After Mass, the youth and adult participants marched to the Supreme Court Building and the rally began. At the rally, one of the speakers was Senator Tim Huelskamp.
“We are not [always] called to win the battle, but to fight for life in every battle,” Huelskamp said in response to those claiming he would never be able to cut funding for Planned Parenthood. “It’s never the wrong time to defend life,” he said.
The rally also included the chant, “we are pro-life” in front of the Supreme Court Building led by U.S. Representative Todd Tiahrt’s wife, Vicki.
Hector Aldaz, a freshman from Dodge City, said his favorite part of the trip was, “I have to say when we walked on the streets holding signs.”
Stefan Bennett, a junior from Great Bend, also said his favorite part of the trip was “when we were there protesting at the rally and holding signs and having all of the people in the judicial building hear us.”
Both Aldaz and Bennett had never been to the rally before.
“It’s breathtaking,” Aldaz said. “I never really knew they had rallies for pro-life.”
Bennett said his first experience was great overall. “It opens your eyes up to a new experience. It gets you to be a part of something -- to stop abortion.”
Megan Brown, a freshman from Great Bend, said she decided to go on the trip because she wanted to realize how important the pro-life movement is.
“I enjoyed seeing how many people are excited about being pro-life,” Brown said.
While some enjoyed the protest at the rally, others enjoyed the education.
“It was really knowledgeable. I learned a lot more this year since I’ve gone a second time,” said Anastacia Wright, a sophomore from Hoisington. “I think they emphasized more how bad abortion is compared to last year.”
After the rally, the group ate lunch in the basement of Mater Dei Catholic Church and then toured the capitol before going home.
Pam Vainer, Great Bend, has been organizing the trip for five years. She said the trip was important because, “The teenagers, the future is in their hands and the fight needs to be passed on to them so the laws can be overturned and the truth revealed.”
“It’s our duty to see that the culture of life is established, not a culture of death, and that the beauty of life is upheld,” Vainer also said. “Our God is a God of hope and a God of light. What brings more hope than children?”