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‘LIFE Week’ Gets Students Thinking About Dignity of All People

By Riley Hetherington 

CARMEL VALLEY — When LIFE Week guest speaker Maria Perez Moreno became unexpectedly pregnant at 19 and secretly terminated the pregnancy, she never imagined she would be sharing her story with the Cathedral Catholic High School student body years later.

Moreno was one of several speakers who visited the campus for the school’s second annual LIFE Week, a week-long event Feb. 25-March 1 hosted by Dons for Life and the Office of Mission and Ministry with the hope of educating students about pro-life issues.

Each day had a theme, such as Health for Life, Adoption and Parenthood, Homeless Advocacy, Elder and End-of-Life Care, and Celebrate Life, and consisted of expert guest speakers, prayer sessions, interactive activities, inspirational messages around campus, and a unique focus on each pro-life issue.

“LIFE Week is all about having positive dialogue regarding these significant topics, including abortion, that are often set aside due to their complex and controversial nature,” explained Dons for Life Leadership Team Member Daniel Pronko, a senior at Cathedral Catholic.

Kicking off the week with Monday’s “Health for Life” Day was Dr. George Delgado, founder of Abortion Pill Rescue and medical director at Culture of Life Family Services. Delgado’s prenatal scientific breakthrough created an abortion reversal option, meaning women who take the abortion pill can reverse their decision up to 72 hours after consumption, ultimately saving the life of the baby before the pill has taken full effect.

Delgado explained that the reversal option has been available since 2012 and, with more than 500 successful births after reversing abortions, Abortion Pill Rescue is 75-percent effective and with no increased chance of birth defects.

“I’ve had lots of women who, after reversing their abortions and having their babies, have been so overjoyed and expressed such gratitude that we’ve been there for them,” Delgado said.

Tuesday’s theme was Adoption and Parenthood. Students heard the personal stories of three women involved with women’s prenatal care and adoption.

Moreno, president and CEO of Culture of Life Family Services, found herself pregnant at age 19. Scared of societal judgement and fear of the unknown, she and her boyfriend, now husband, chose to have an abortion.

Depression, grief, shame and addiction followed that decision.

“My soul was broken, and no one told me I would suffer these feelings for the rest of my life,” she said.

Moreno would later get involved with Culture of Life Family Services, which works to assist women in crisis pregnancies.

Also speaking at Tuesday’s lunch session was Sarah Saccone Lanza, the full-time director of Lamb of God Maternity Home, who works with mothers experiencing unplanned pregnancies and helps them through the adoption process. During her presentation, she gave one of those mothers the opportunity to speak.

“I think we can all agree that, when you look around, you value the lives of your classmates; you know that they each have dignity as human beings, and they were all created in the image of God,” Saccone Lanza said. “Each of us was created for a purpose, and our lives were not meant to be taken away.”

“Adoption provides a way for moms who aren’t in a good situation to still give their babies a wonderful life.”

Wednesday’s focus on Homeless Advocacy brought many homelessness experts and homeless shelter representatives to campus, where students were able to take part in a group discussion about the growing problem, possible solutions, and how they could get involved.

Thursday encouraged reflection on Elder and End-of-Life Care. Dr. Ted Rotunda, an emergency room doctor and school parent, used his time to offer pro-life responses to common arguments in favor of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia.

“It’s not all or nothing,” he said. “It’s not ‘we let you suffer or we kill you’; there’s a spectrum. The Catholic Church has been on the forefront of palliative care, the branch of medicine that’s working to help stop suffering.”

In contrast to the educational themes of the preceding days, Friday was exclusively devoted to celebrating the dignity of all life through fun lunchtime activities. The entire campus was decorated with bright balloons and uplifting messages. There were bubbles and upbeat music. Dons for Life members handed out free flowers, journals and popcorn to all students.

“‘Celebrate Life Day’ was our way of ending the week on an energetic, positive note,” said Megan Monroe, a senior at Cathedral Catholic and a member of Dons for Life. “We covered the campus in balloons and positive messages, handed out flowers, and did our best to spread joy around campus.”

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