By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer
WEST CHESTER – Cristina M. Barba, program director of Generation Life, is revved up about Respect Life Month, which the Church celebrates in October.
Headquartered in West Chester, Generation Life is a movement of young people committed to building a culture of life by spreading the messages of life and love to other young people and encouraging their participation in the pro-life effort.
“I see this as the most urgent work of our time,” Barba said of the organization’s year-round commitment to a mission that includes promoting the message of chastity and protecting the unborn.
Addressing the issue of chastity through talks to young people – teenagers in particular – is among the highlights of her work, especially when the target audience realizes “that the ‘rules’ of the Catholic Church aren’t meant to be an imposition to box us in, but guidelines for our own well-being and happiness,” she said.
Barba, 25, began her work in the pro-life movement in early childhood, participating in various activities with her parents, including attending prayer vigils outside abortion clinics. “It wasn’t something I was afraid of,” she said. “I saw we were there peacefully and prayerfully, out of love for the child and the mother.”
Generation Life strives to encourage women to seek alternatives to abortion through its fourth Saturday outreach endeavor. On the fourth Saturday of each month, prayer vigils are held from 7 to 8:45 a.m. outside the Philadelphia Women’s Center at Eighth and Appletree Streets in center city. Mass follows at 9 a.m. at Holy Redeemer Church at 9th and Vine Streets.
“It’s heartbreaking because two people – mother and child – walk into the clinic, but only one walks out,” Barba said. “That one that walks out has a deep hurt. We’re really there to be in solidarity with the unborn child and to try to meet that woman where she’s at. We’re there to offer her hope.”
Defense of the unborn is the theme of a conference Generation Life is co-sponsoring from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, at Roman Catholic High School for Boys in Philadelphia.
Prior to the conference, a prayer vigil will be held at 8 a.m. outside the Philadelphia Women’s Center. Mass follows at 9 a.m. at Holy Redeemer Church.
“A culture of death only prevails if we do nothing about it,” Barba said.
A member of St. Isaac Jogues Parish in Wayne, Barba considers her job at Generation Life a gift. “Everything we teach follows under the guidelines of the Church,” she said.
The oldest of four children of Rafael and Joanne Barba, she graduated from St. Katharine of Siena School in Wayne in 1998 and from Archbishop John Carroll High School in Radnor in 2002. It was during high school that Barba first became affiliated with Generation Life.
She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in biological sciences in 2006 from Pennsylvania State University. As a student at Penn State – where she also served as president of Penn State Students for Life – Barba helped Generation Life conduct conferences on campus and volunteered with the organization during the summer.
After college, she received missionary training at the Emmanuel School of Mission in Rome. The one-year program for young adults, which operates under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, provides missionary, spiritual and doctrinal formation.
Barba joined the staff of Generation Life full time in 2007 and was promoted to program director this past June.
For more information, visit the Generation Life web site, www.generationlife.org, or call 215-885-8760.
CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at 215-587-2468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.