Last May, a group of students from Niagara Catholic’s eight secondary schools travelled to Ottawa to participate in the March for Life.
Following that event, leaders from across Niagara Catholic decided to hold a culture of life conference for students during the 2013-2014 school year. More than 140 students participated in the day-long inaugural conference, which took place at Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre on November 14.
Seventeen-year-old Leah Mills, a pro-life advocate from Toronto, was the keynote speaker. She delivered an impassioned address about the importance of valuing human life, speaking most directly on the topic of abortion.
That’s an important conversation to have, said Niagara Catholic Chaplaincy Leader, Debra McCaffery. But it’s important to look at all aspects of the Culture of Life, as it is outlined in Catholic Social Teaching.
“You can’t just be concerned about life from conception to birth,” said McCaffery. “It’s also about the life that’s standing in front of you. Everybody’s life is equally valued in God’s eyes.”
As a Board, Niagara Catholic does many things to promote human dignity, but frequently those things happen in isolation.
“We promote a culture of life within our schools,” said McCaffery. “We have pro-life groups and anti-bullying groups and social climate committees, but really, these are all about the same thing – social justice.”
In their own way, each of these groups promotes human dignity and the rights and responsibilities we have to one another, the option for the poor and the vulnerable, solidarity and peace.
“When we say ‘culture of life,’ we tend to think only of abortion,” said McCaffery. “But because the culture of life message is such an important one, we felt it was important for students to realize the culture of life extends beyond the topic of abortion, to conversations about issues such as euthanasia and bullying,” McCaffery said.