Ministry Wakes from Hiatus

Annette Ritzko, Editor-in-Chief

Renewed student interest is reviving the Students for Life ministry after a hiatus.

The Students for Life Ministry, which is part of Campus Ministry, will restart after over a year without a leader,  said Christine Somers, Director of Campus Ministry.

“What seemed to happen with the group is that it fizzled because as people graduated, it dwindled and one or two people would take it over and then they graduated, and then no one took up the leadership role this year,” Somers said.

Somers explained that to be a ministry, or club, there must be a leader who acts as a liaison between the club and Campus Ministry. Somers and other staff members help clubs by reserving rooms, getting food and working to plan events.

Somers said the Students for Life Ministry started six years ago, and it did not have many members to begin with. Some of the group’s events included showing movies, praying rosaries, attending the March for Life in Washington D.C., and holding drives, such as a diaper and bottle drive for low-income pregnant women.

Michaela McQuaig,  junior occupational therapy major and advocate for the ministry, said the group already has created a mission statement.

“Our mission statement is that we are advocating for the respect and dignity of human life from conception until natural death through education, prayer, discussion and fundraising. Our focus is on supporting and encouraging policies concerning abortion reform, providing assistance for mothers in crisis, supporting grieving parents and euthanasia.”

Each student member offered different reasons for reviving the group. Anne Yanik, sophomore speech-language pathology major and co-leader of the group, has two main reasons: student support and the March for Life. She said she has participated in the march when she was younger, and she looked forward to marching again, but she discovered that no one was interested.

“I was very disheartened by it. Now that I am a sophomore and I know there are other people interested in it, I thought it would be fun to get more people to come. That isn’t my only goal, it also inspires me a lot to know that I am not the only person that still believes that life should be respected from conception to natural death and I hope to find more people through this group who want to advocate for respect for life in all forms,” said Yanik.

Amanda Miller, freshman occupational therapy major and co-leader of the group, has always considered herself pro-life, being an active pro-life member in her parish and high school. Although concerned with all pro-life issues, Miller feels that issues regarding abortion are most relevant to her current age-group.

“I think this group is so necessary on our campus because abortion is very common among college-aged girls.  While we are aware of other pro-life causes as well, abortion is the one most relevant to us.  It is important for everyone to know the options other than abortion if an unwanted pregnancy occurs, and that healing is possible even after an abortion takes place,” said Miller.

Some events Miller hopes to organize next year include speakers, going to the March for Life and, staying true to past groups, holding drives for crisis pregnancy centers.

McQuaig wants to provide support and a sense of community to others who are pro-life and to spread awareness.

“It’s really nice to feel supported in a community of people who think the same way and have the same views, because there is usually a great deal of push back when it comes to these topics, so being supported in a group like this is something that’s really encouraging. I also just want to spread awareness around campus to be able to have other people who feel this way involved as well so that they have an outlet to go to,” said McQuaig.

McQuaig also wants to educate others about church teaching on abortion and other pro-life issues. She feels most people are uninformed or misinformed on these issues. Much like Miller, McQuaig would like to host drives and provide support for those in crisis.

“I think it would great to do some fundraisers for crisis pregnancy centers on campus and just provide support to people who have had abortions or mothers in crisis and be able to point them to the right direction for getting help and support,” said McQuaig.

Noah Schweiger, sophomore speech-language pathology major, hopes to not only help educate others about many issues but himself as well.

“I feel like it is necessary for this group to be on campus, because a lot of people may be in a similar situation as me where they feel they don’t have the right to make an opinion yet and they’re not educated enough, but sadly sometimes people make opinions off of very little knowledge. I also am hoping to educate people through getting speakers to come in and in the process learning more myself,” said Schweiger.

Jacob Schweiger, second year graduate physical therapy major, joined the group to encourage discussion on pro-life issues and to reaffirm the importance of life.

“I hope to bring the conversation up and demonstrate to people who do tend to lean on the pro-life side that they can speak out and become advocates and that they’re not alone. Sometimes you can feel that alone when you’re pro-life on a college campus, and for people who are more on the pro-choice side I want to give them an opportunity to join the discussion and maybe present to them some reasons why we have the stances we do and open it up to them to explain the stances they do so that we can have a good debate about the issues,” said Schweiger.

Dr. Christopher Carr, assistant professor of religious studies and supporter of the group, has been involved in pro-life work since his college years and plans to help the revived ministry in any way he can.

“I believe that any undergraduate Students for Life group’s first priority must be to alert their peers to the injustice and health risks of abortion. Aside from principle, there is the practical matter of the harm caused by abortion to young women.  Some effects are physical, such as complications that could lead to internal bleeding or infertility; others are emotional or psychological like guilt, depression, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, and drug use.  So, Students for Life really has two primary goals:  giving an unborn child a chance to live while teaching young women how to care for and cultivate their own well-being as women,” said Carr.