Tonight’s programming in the high school track focused on being able to love radically like Jesus. We spent time considering the theme of this pilgrimage, heard from Melissa Ohden, an abortion survivor, and considered how we are all in need of God’s mercy and love.

Young Catholics Proclaiming the Gospel of Life

After entertainment with “The Fr. Fallon Show,” teens were asked to reflect on the theme for this pilgrimage: “Young Catholics Proclaiming the Gospel of Life.” Father reminded all of us that being pro-life isn’t limited to January; we are supposed to live it 24/7. We do this by knowing who Jesus Christ is. After having received His love and knowing what that is, we can go forth and share it.

We don’t do that by shouting and screaming toward the other side. Jesus loved everyone and longs for each of us to receive the Gospel. We can start to change hearts and minds by asking Jesus for help.

A Personal Story of Love and Forgiveness

Fr. Fallon introduced our speaker for the evening: Melissa Ohden. Melissa survived a saline abortion, an abortion that her biological mother was coerced into by Melissa’s biological grandmother. She shared some of her personal story surrounding her birth.

Melissa now travels both within the country and internationally sharing her story and speaking in defense of human life. She has come to realize that God has a clear plan and purpose for her life. She has come to forgive her biological parents and grandparents. Melissa encouraged teens to pray for the person who might shout angrily or hold signs different from ours tomorrow at the March. We never know how these people have been wounded or the cross they are carrying.

While Melissa’s story is dramatic, we all have been given experiences and gifts by God for a reason. For Melissa, she shares her story, not because she is someone extraordinary and brave, but because she realizes that that God has called her to do extraordinary things with her experience. So too, each and everyone of us have been called by God to proclaim the Gospel of Life with our particular talents and experiences. And we really can do so with the boldness of Christ. We have nothing to be afraid of in this world. We can be joyful and restore hope to our world.

Be Defined By Jesus’ Love

After Melissa’s powerful testimony, Fr. Fallon reminded the teens that the gift of hope comes from the Lord. He then read the story of Jesus’ mercy extended to the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). Jesus tells us in this story that we need to stop being defined by our sins. We need to be defined by Jesus’ love. It is this love which allows us to be bold in Christ.

We can’t just spew hate on those who disagree with us or don’t understand us. Instead, we are called to be instruments of mercy and love. God’s mercy and love isn’t just for us – it’s for everyone.

All fear removed I breathe You in, I lean into Your love.