Eighty local youth, adults travel to Topeka for pro-life rally

Editor’s Note: Melissa is 17 and a parishioner of St. Dominic Parish, Garden City. She is the daughter of Ronald and Ronda Conway.
SEE the photo gallery from the trip by clicking here.

Most people wouldn’t consider waking up at four o’clock in the morning a blessing, but on Jan. 22, I truly did. I decided, for the second time, to join 79 other youth and adults from around the diocese for a pro-life trip to the Capitol in Topeka.
I figured the trip would be amazing like last year, and it definitely was, but throughout the trip I realized that it was also different. One of the main reasons this trip was so unique was the impact it made on me and the feelings I experienced.

The range of emotions I went through is almost indescribable. I enjoyed being with everyone else from the diocese and knew we were all there for the same purpose, which was clearly to support the sanctity of all life.
The importance of the trip really started to affect me when we listened to an audio clip about the difference between us and a fetus, and I realized that there wasn’t much of a difference at all. It became even more powerful when the entire bus joined together to pray the Rosary. Parts of it were prayed in English and some were in Spanish, and altogether it was beautiful.
As we arrived in Topeka and made our way to Mater Dei Catholic Church, I saw all of the other people who were there. The Knights of Columbus led all of us to the Supreme Court building. Rows and rows of people walked in front of me. It started to really hit me how important this was.
When we arrived at the Supreme Court building I finally had the chance to see the entire crowd, and it was an astonishing sight. As I talked with Ana Dominguez from Great Bend about the large group, she said, “It made me feel good because a lot of people are supporting this.”
Crowded together, we prayed for our brothers and sisters that never get a chance to live – some 4,000 in the United States each day, we heard. We listened as two courageous women chose to be “silent no more” as they talked about their abortions and the struggles they faced afterward. Their words brought tears to my eyes and sorrow to my heart. I felt compassion for those women and sadness for their unborn children. I was truly filled with a desire to respect life throughout the rally when I saw signs like, “A person is a person, no matter how small,” and “Children are God’s gifts to the world.”
I felt joy when I saw two children playing innocently in the grass. I also felt a moving and loving strength from the strangers around me and from God’s unfailing love pouring down on us. I felt God in all of us and around us. He was empowering our faith and showing us life and holiness in the smallest of His creation.
And yet, within this spiritual and moving journey was a feeling of despair within me. Was my praying and supporting life helping these innocent lives?
As the rally ended our group walked past some protesters and my heart started to drop. Why didn’t they understand? My despair ended at Mass as I heard the packed church sing. I began to realize that some people may never understand what we are fighting for and praying for, but God does. I wanted the unborn to have a chance and I knew that I must continue to always stand up and defend them.
This trip was, as Father Jon Hullinger called it, a bittersweet occasion. He reminded us, though, that we were “gathering in hope,” that all life would one day be fully respected, and that we were also “fighting in love.”
After Mass we ate lunch, toured the Capitol, and began our journey home. Throughout the trip I discovered once again that God loves each of us from the beginning and that He desires to protect us, even the smallest and weakest, until the end. Jan. 22 could have been another day on the calendar, but for the 80 of us who journeyed to the rally, the deep desire to protect all life and the hope and love God instilled within us will never be forgotten.
Thank you to Father Wesley Schawe, Pam Vainer, and all who made this trip possible!