By Nissa LaPoint/Catholic Charities of Denver
As a young Catholic woman, Cassidy Roderick once described herself as “technically” prolife. After attending her first prolife march in Denver, the high school senior’s belief in the sanctity of life transformed from a statement to a passion.
“It was really exciting for me,” said Cassidy, a student at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora. “It was the first time I had seen how big the prolife community was.”
Cassidy’s reaction was one of shock after realizing the magnitude of abortion in the United States.
“My family had never talked about it, and we never talked about it at school. I was just so shocked at how big a deal this was and how little I was doing,” she said.
“From that moment on, I’ve been all in.”
After joining her school’s prolife club, Cassidy has encouraged classmates to attend this year’s youth rally and March to Celebrate Life January 15-16.
“I hope they see how we’re the future of this prolife generation,” she said.
Cassidy is among the growing numbers of youth in support of making abortion broadly illegal. A Gallup poll in 2010 revealed 18- to 29-year-olds caught up to seniors as the most likely of all age groups to oppose abortion.
In 1991, 36 percent believed abortion should be legal under any circumstances. By 2010, youth had become more prolife than their parents—only 24 percent wanted to keep abortion legal in all circumstances.
Jaylem Allen-Durousseau, a student at Regis Jesuit, said he was hesitant to join the movement, uncertain what his father would think. But the 17-year-old became convicted after attending a previous Denver march and discovered his mission to share his prolife beliefs with unbelievers.
“We’re not here to disciple to the saved, we’re here to disciple to the lost,” the 17-year-old said. “I think it’s the same case with the prolife movement.”
He feels encouraged through his school’s prolife club.
“We’re the generation that will end abortion and I truly believe that,” he said.
Lauren Castillo, Rocky Mountain regional director for the Students for Life of America, is working to gather high school and college students to attend the youth rally and march.
Her experience at the Denver march and Washington, D.C. march convicted her to a life dedicated to the movement.
“When I went to D.C. and saw it I thought, ‘Wow, this is much bigger than I ever expected,’” said 24-year-old Castillo. “That was where God laid on my heart that this is something for me to do.”
Also the respect life coordinator at Notre Dame Parish, she said prolife marches are a great sign of unity and source of energy.
“There’s something so powerful about joining together in a visible way with like-minded people, and it energizes people,” she said. “It just gives them that encouragement to say, ‘I can do this and I can keep going on.’”
To youth, Lauren urged, “If you’ve never been to a march, get to one.”
Lauren will speak at the first part of the march that begins January 15 with a youth rally held at Bishop Machebeuf High School. Middle school and high school youth will attend a series of talks and participate in a vigil praise led by St. John Vianney Theological Seminary. Christ in the City missionaries, the Sisters of Life and other religious will also speak at the rally.
The following day, Masses will be celebrated downtown at Holy Ghost Parish, the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish. In the afternoon, participants will walk to the state Capitol and rally for life.
The march follows downtown where thousands of youth, families and the community will join to show their enthusiasm for life at all stages.
Lauren said youth plan to be a major part of the March to Celebrate Life.
“Oftentimes youth lead the march because they show the visible face of the prolife movement and they present that well,” she said.
March to Celebrate Life
6 p.m.-9 p.m. January 15, Bishop Machebeuf High School
11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. January 16, downtown Denver