Students host Day of Life on campus after trip to DC is canceled // The Observer

The Right to Life Club, the largest student organization in Notre Dame, was set to head to Washington DC to participate in the March for Life rally on January 21. However, on January 11, these plans were canceled due to mounting concerns about COVID-19 and a shortage of testing at Notre Dame. Alternatively, the club held a Notre Dame Day of Life, celebrating Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, followed by a campus-wide March for Life and rally.

But the sudden change of plans did not come easily. Notre Dame senior Francie Shaft, club president, said it took a lot of time and effort to plan what is normally a six-month affair in just ten days.

“As soon as we were informed that the DC march was cancelled, we immediately got to work planning an alternative event… The Right to Life Club, Campus Ministry and the Center for Ethics and Culture worked quickly to plan the event,” Shaft said.

Shaft added that lengthy meetings were recorded each day ahead of Life Day to effectively organize and advertise the event.

Nevertheless, Shaft said it was “overall a pleasure to plan the event with students who are so committed to this issue despite the challenges,” as well as the “enthusiastic response”.

A Notre Dame Day of Life participant, Saint Mary’s sophomore Elizabeth Sheets said that “the march is a great way to raise awareness for the pro-life movement” and that “not enough people are aware that abortion can be harmful.” for the mother and that abortion is not the only option.”

Sheets said that as a Catholic, she considers life sacred and participates in the Notre Dame Right to Life and Belles for Life Clubs because she wants to be a voice for the voiceless.

Notre Dame senior Mary Mueller, the club’s spirituality director, said she was deeply moved to hear Father Pete McCormick speak at Mass and people at the gathering on a variety of topics, such as services for mothers in planned and crisis pregnancies, international rights and institutional racism.

Shaft said the march was “much more of a celebration of life than a protest.”

In an interview with The Observer, Shaft spoke about how the Right to Life club aligns with Notre Dame’s mission and identity.

“We are called to be good forces here at Notre Dame, as well as in the world – all these events, whether through teaching, service or prayer, really spark a desire in students to good strength and their Catholic identity and prepare them to speak the truth,” Shaft said.

Shaft said the club is explicitly written in the Catholic tradition shared by Notre Dame, but “welcome”[s] students of any faith tradition or lack thereof.”

Shaft discussed how the anti-abortion argument has both secular and religious roots.

“In the context of the law, of course, it must be rooted in secular reasons and persuasive to the American people. However, in any context of social justice, it is deeply rooted in faith.”

In addition, she added that while the Right to Life Club uses a Catholic perspective, it regularly integrates secular reasoning and philosophy. Shaft said she believes there is a big misconception about the club.

“We encourage [students] to see what we are all up to. We encourage curiosity and open discussion – I think people are very reluctant to talk about abortion, but it’s very important to talk about things that matter.”

To further reduce the difficult nature of the topic, Shaft and the club have implemented several events to encourage conversation, including Day of Life, Girl Talk, Services, Weekly Prayer, Table Events, Speakers, Respect Life Week, You Are Loved Week , abortion debates and more – all of which invite students of different beliefs to engage in open, positive discourse.

Shaft also stressed that abortion politics is only a small part of the club. The club’s “pro-life” philosophy goes far beyond the controversial issue of the legality of abortion. The club fights for other issues, such as combating the death penalty and euthanasia, and increasing access to maternity care and resources.

She added that the club focuses on social justice in general when it comes to the dignity of human life.

“We are consistently pro-life and maintain a consistent life ethic across the board,” Shaft said.

Tags: anti-abortion, Day of Life, March for Life, rally, Right to Life Club

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