By Mary Sedeño
The Texas Catholic Staff
They walked. They prayed. And they sweated.
Even with record heat this month, more than 60 youth from the Diocese of Dallas prayed the rosary in front of several abortion centers as one of several activities in the annual Pro-Life Boot Camp sponsored by the North Texas Catholic Pro-Life Committee.
The camp is dedicated to bringing youth into the pro-life movement and to bringing awareness of the Catholic Church’s stance on abortion.
The students gathered July 29 at the University of Dallas campus, where they went to Mass several times, walked in a candlelight procession, heard from a seminarian about the importance of standing up for life and spent time in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
From its start in 2003, with eight campers, to now having more than 60 campers and two summer sessions, the camp’s success is a testament to the zeal and dedication of the youth, said Jacquelyn Smith, the CPLC’s director of Youth for Life.
Smith makes it clear that she could not do it alone. A major part of the growth of the camp is attributed to the partnership with the Diocese of Fort Worth and her counterpart, Sue Laux, coordinator of Youth for Life Fort Worth.
“The most amazing thing for me is to see some of the young people who first started out here as campers, but who are now serving as leaders and chaperones and helping the new campers,” Smith said.
From all across the DFW area, youth and chaperones gather to dedicate five days for a “total pro-life immersion.”
Campers are exposed to the reality of abortion through talks from women who had an abortion and talks from women who decided not to abort their children.
However, several campers said that they better understood the Catholic Church’s stance on abortion after praying at abortion clinics.
Not only did they pray in front of the abortion centers, they also visited nearby Catholic-sponsored pregnancy resources to see the work those agencies do.
Kelsey Olohan, 16, said she found it encouraging as a first-time camper to be with other pro-life teenagers.
“Praying in front of the abortion clinics is very powerful because it’s one of the most powerful weapons we have in the Catholic Church,” she said.
Jonah Peña, 17, a third-year camper agreed. “It is one of the highlights of my summer,” he said. “Not only do I get to hang out with my friends, but we are also doing God’s work by saving babies.”
Mary Kristin Toates, 21, who was a camper for three years, returned this year as chaperone.
“It was important for me to come back as a chaperone because as a camper I loved growing with my friends and growing in my faith,” said Toates, a member of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Dallas and a junior at Benedictine College.
“I wanted to share my experience and enthusiasm for the pro-life movement with others.”
RELATED COVERAGE: Read Deacon Reuben Chen’s address to the youths during Eucharistic Adoration.