For many years, teenagers have walked in the March for Life, the annual pro-life demonstration in Washington that recently marked its 42nd anniversary. The event aims to bring awareness to the laws surrounding legalized abortion, hoping to change them. It attracts people of all ages from all over the country, united in one common purpose.
In the years I’ve been watching and covering the March for Life, I’ve always been impressed with how many young people take a day out of their busy lives to speak up for the rights of the unborn. Look at any picture of the march and you’ll see that it is packed with young people.
This year was no exception. The Verizon Center, the sports arena in Washington that serves as a venue for a pre-march Mass and rally, was filled with teenagers from around the country. During the march, teenagers were among the loudest and most energetic of speakers. It was a complete refutation of one of the major myths about today’s teenagers: that they don’t care, that they don’t want to care, that they are selfish and self-centered.
What I saw, however, were teenagers singing, engaging, marching and passionately speaking about their values and the way they see the world. Nobody could call them lazy, selfish or annoying.
Talking to some of them, I was surprised to hear that some had never seen this many Catholic youth in one place before. They told me that they had no idea that so many young people were proud of their faith.
No matter where I go, events such as the March for Life and the National Catholic Youth Conference and even local diocesan events, I see teens getting together, proclaiming and living their faith in a secular world that doesn’t always approve of it.
Year after year, I’m reminded that when teens participate in church, whether it’s marching for the cause of life in Washington or becoming a lector at their parish, amazing things can happen. Youth groups gather coats for the homeless, bring joy to the elderly by volunteering in nursing homes, raise money for kids’ programs and much more.
Catholic teenagers know that being Catholic is more than just showing up on Sunday morning and dropping a few dollars into the collection basket. They know how to bring the teachings of Christ — caring for the poor and the lonely, caring for the underserved and the unborn — to the forefront.
That’s why it’s important to stand up against the cultural tide and be proud about being Catholic. The next time you’re tempted to play down your commitment to your faith, just remember all of the young people on the streets of Washington during the march and know that you are not alone.
As a Catholic teen, you have a voice. You are a force. By showing up, by speaking up, by working hard, you are changing the world for the better.