By Anna Weaver | Hawaii Catholic Herald
This year’s Life Symposium had a new youth track designed to get local teens more engaged with the pro-life movement.
The 60-plus teens who attended received special T-shirts and met in a separate room for most of the all-day diocesan-sponsored event on Nov. 9 at the Kroc Center in Kapolei.
The primary organizer and emcee at the “gathering within a gathering” was MaryRose Timmons-Colton, the religious education/youth ministry administrative assistant at St. Ann Parish in Kaneohe.
The teen track kicked off with Timmons-Colton loosening up the group with joking questions like “Who doesn’t want to be here?” “Whose parent told them they had to come?” followed by an introduction to the day and a short praise and worship song session led by CREDO, a band made up of St. Ann young adults.
Next Karlie Lodjic, the Students for Life coordinator for Washington, Alaska and Hawaii, spoke on what being a pro-life Catholic means and how teens can talk to friends who might be struggling with the issue of abortion. Lodjic’s tips emphasized an empathetic approach.
“Sometimes [pro-choice people] people think we don’t have compassion for people and that we elevated the pre-born child over the woman,” she said. Her goal was to give the youth in attendance tools to have a sensitive conversation with someone about abortion.
Symposium attendee Sophia Evrard, 15, a parishioner at St. John Apostle and Evangelist Parish in Mililani, said that she thought Lodjic’s talk gave her more confidence to speak to others about life issues.
“I feel that it’s an important topic and issue to learn about,” Evrard said. “And to learn about it in this environment where we’re all connected by Jesus puts it on a whole new level.”
The youth attendees were assigned to “lifeguards,” volunteers who led small group discussions. One of them, Kimberlee Cruz-Kalahiki, was 6-months pregnant and later gave a short testimony on being a mom to a 13-year-old and her unborn child.
“I thought seeing someone pregnant would be good for the youth to see,” she said.
The teens rejoined the larger crowd for Mass and lunch before their afternoon sessions, which included a talk given by Father Shenan J. Boquet, president of Human Life International.
Vicar general Msgr. Gary Secor, presided at Mass and focused his homily on the parallels between church building and family building.
“What we can say about church building is what we can say in many respects about family,” Msgr. Secor said. Just as humans were designed to be life-giving, “that’s why you have a church, so you give birth spiritually.”
“The only thing in creation that God said was made in his image and likeness is us,” he said.
The Diocese of Honolulu’s Life Symposium is in its third year. This year’s event was organized by Paulette Vernay, director of the Respect Life office, Lisa Gomes, director of the Youth and Young Adult office, Eva Andrade, director of the Hawaii Catholic Conference, Mary Timmons-Colton and St. Anthony, Kailua, parishioner Fred Hagen.
This story originally appeared on https://www.hawaiicatholicherald.com/