St. Pius X students form group to honor dignity of human life
By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter
KANSAS CITY - They are a diverse group of teenagers, in gender, age and future goals, but they share a common belief in the dignity of life.
Marty Denzer/Key photo
These teens from St. Pius X High School have many choices ahead of them and they 'choose life.'
Rick Ringel and his fellow religion teachers, John Powell and Karen Kissinger, had wanted to form a student pro-life group at St. Pius X High School for several years, and this past autumn the idea germinated in fertile ground. Ringel said the teachers wanted the students to lead the group with faculty as moderators. And that's just what they did.
The pro-life group wanted to put into action what they had discussed in theology and social justice classes.
Junior Rose Murphy said she believed both abortion and the death penalty were morally wrong and went against Catholic teachings of the dignity of life.
"Abortion is an area of concern for many teenagers," senior Mary Ringel said.
"The issue receives a lot of media attention, but many people are still uneducated about the procedure and its effects," she said.
Senior Vanessa Davis agreed. "A lot of women don't know what they're getting into," she said.
The group began by educating themselves. They read everything they could get their hands on about abortion issues and pro-choice matters. Davis said she researched abortion for a forensics tournament. She pointed to posters littering the table. She had pictures, graphs and statistics at her fingertips.
"Did you know that less than 3 percent of abortions occur because of rape or incest? Does the media expect us to believe that's the main reason for abortions?" she asked.
And they talked to people.
"Right down the street is a crisis pregnancy center, next door to a Planned Parenthood," said Ringel. Amid furiously nodding heads, a voice said it was time to educate the community about abortion and pro-choice.
Senior Jessica Ludwig said she didn't see how abortion could be a choice for the mother if the baby has no choice in the matter.
John DiCapo, another senior, said, "It may be an embryo now, but later it could walk and talk. If you call an embryo a baby, it makes you think. How could anyone kill a baby?"
Senior Derek Vap brought the issue close to home when he recounted the story of his niece. He said her parents had received counseling from their high school, with both sets of grandparents, and, "Now I have a 1-year-old niece, and she's the most beautiful thing in my life. I can't imagine how it would be without her."
He said the baby's parents were waiting until her father was out of college before marrying.
The students said that the policy at St. Pius X includes counseling and attempting to keep a couple together and in school, although marriage and co-habitation is discouraged until both are out of high school. Davis said the school also encourages adoption in a teen pregnancy situation.
"The Catholic Church has set standards and we have to meet those standards," said senior Laura Schwartz.
"We have to expand our outlook, educate ourselves and be pro-active," agreed Murphy.
The student pro-life group is still in its infancy, but they consider themselves ready and willing to address other life issues such as stem cell research, cloning, end-of-life decisions and the death penalty.
DiCapo said he believed that Catholics should emphasize the value of everyone's life, including those who have been convicted of a capital crime and sentenced to death.
"Life's a gift from God, and we ought to cherish it," he said.
"Who are we to play God," DiCapo said. "Everyone has the capability to change. People on death row have been known to have conversions of the heart, and they should have that chance."
The seniors in the group all said they planned to stay involved with their community, and work with pro-life groups in college.
Sophomore Therese Ringel said the St. Pius X group would recruit new members next year.
"It's important to continue to inspire others. We need to get out and act on our beliefs," she said.
Senior Nancy Christifano said the group had discussed forming a life chain around the high school's football field to show their commitment to life.
"We want to show that we stand for something besides a good football team," she said.