Approximately 500 students and youth ministry leaders gathered Saturday, January 15 for the first annual Diocesan Pro-Life Youth Rally. The morning event, titled “Love My Life,” was held at Sacred Heart Cathedral School. It took place shortly after the Diocesan Mass for Life, celebrated by the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge at St. Joseph Catholic Church. (Read Diocesan Mass for Life story.) The Youth Rally was sponsored by the Diocesan Pro-Life Office and Office of Youth Ministry, with assistance by the Offices of African Ancestry Ministry and Evangelization and Hispanic Ministry.
The two-hour event, which featured talks and music, was emceed by Mr. Russell Hoyt, Youth Minister at St. Luke the Evangelist Church in Raleigh. Presenters included Mr. Joe Farris, Youth Minister at St. Peter Church in Greenville; Ms. Carrie Faur, President of UNC-Chapel Hill Students for Life and a parishioner of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Raleigh; Wilmington area high school pro-life leaders Emily Reynolds and Abigail Reimel; and musician Tom Young.
In his prayer at the beginning of the rally, Bishop Burbidge spoke of the “wonderful young men and women of the Diocese who serve as an inspiration to all of us.” He said, “This is a very proud moment for me as Bishop of Raleigh.” He asked that their hearts be set on fire, “as they go forth this day and every day as witnesses of the Gospel of Life.”
Ms. Jackie Bonk, Diocesan Pro-Life Director, said organizers were not sure what type of turnout there would be, since this is the first rally of this type. “I was very pleasantly surprised,” she said. “We expected 150 to possibly 200. The response and the enthusiasm of the students were overwhelming. This rally for life will only get bigger,” she added, “so we will have to consider a larger venue.”
Luke Jalette, a Catholic from Rocky Mount and student at Nash Community College, said he has been to several Catholic youth events. “I expected a welcoming environment and good speakers, but this,” he added, “exceeded all my expectations. It was amazing.”
Asked what she would take away from the rally, Madti Neilson, a home school student, replied, “The suggestion that we take off our blindfolds and engage the world. Hearing those words,” she said, “helped me understand what I need to do.”
Above: Part of the estimated 500 students and youth ministers who turned out for the “Love My Life” Youth Rally Saturday, January 15 at Sacred Heart Cathedral School.