By Zavienne Kowalczyk
Being “pro-life” was never at the forefront of my thought growing up, even though I was always strong in my faith. My pro-life journey all began one Sunday morning in March when a member of my parish choir asked me if I would like to attend the March For Life in Ottawa.
I jumped at the opportunity to go because I truly believed God wanted me to, and, of course, I thought it would be an exciting trip where I could learn about the Pro-Life Movement and defend this issue I knew so little about.
I didn’t realize the significance of the matter, nor did I make any special effort to defend or advocate for the Pro-Life Movement prior to my trip to Ottawa.
The March For Life was a very rewarding, yet heart-rending experience. I learned a lot about the Pro-Life Movement. Moreover, I realized how strongly compelled the opposing side—the Pro-Choice Movement—felt to both intimidate the pro-lifers and advise the public on their stance.
I witnessed firsthand how fanatical the Pro-Choice Movement was, and I was devastated by it. I saw numerous pro-choicers holding up signs with extremely crude remarks, most of which I don’t even feel comfortable writing, and I still remember the incessant yelling: “My body, my choice!”
Nevertheless, I was glad about how exuberant the whole Pro-Life vs Pro-Choice affair was; there were more pro-lifers and pro-choicers than I had imagined, and the intensity of both positions hit me with the reality and urgency of this issue. I came to understand the importance of the Pro-Life movement, and my commitment to the preciousness of life was emboldened.
I remember listening to a woman expound on the harm caused by both abortion and the morning-after pill my second last day in Ottawa. Hearing her speak stirred my soul and broke my heart. I distinctly recall tears running down my face, and I was so grateful to be wearing sunglasses at the time. I was completely disgusted and ashamed of the ways our society deals with fear and unwanted pregnancy.
Essentially, I was quite troubled with how selfish and ignorant our nation had become. At that moment I remember knowing that I wanted to make the world a better place and thinking that I could start on my campus at Saint Francis Xavier University in the fall. There was no pro-life club at the university, and after my one year of attending the university, I felt there was a dire need to have one in place. Thus, I was inspired to create my own pro-life society at StFX.
I had run into Ruth Shaw, executive director of NCLN at the March for Life. She also informed me of the symposium that was to take place at the end of August in Langley, which is a conference with the purpose of inspiring students to become pro-life leaders. I was inspired to create my own pro-life society at St. FX and Symposium helped me figure out how.
I received strategy and apologetics training and was able to meet a lot of other passionate pro-life youth from across the country.
Afterwards, I was assigned my own pro-life advisor, Florence Lavergne, at the end of the conference to help me spread the pro-life message on my own campus.
Florence told me the best place to start is recruitment. After some networking, I connected with fourteen pro-life students who became part of my club. We held our first meeting in October, and I shared my goals for the club.
However, since I couldn’t officially start a society until the new semester in January, I was also hoping to help any crisis pregnancy centers nearby. Unfortunately, there are only a few crisis pregnancy centers in the province and the closest one to Antigonish is a couple hours away. As a result, we were unsure about what work we could do with our new, unofficial, pro-life club.
A few days after our first meeting, I ran into a female student, Robyn, who I had met before. We were just making small talk when Robyn informed me that she was pregnant and due in May. I congratulated her and was simply relieved she was keeping the baby.
The next morning I did my usual weekly call with Florence, and then the thought occurred to me; I could fundraise for Robyn, rather than the crisis pregnancy centers. When I asked her how she felt about this, she was more than accepting of our offer and so grateful to have the extra support.
We’re on a roll with putting everything in place to get our pro-life society in gear next semester. I hope to put forward all our efforts to give Robyn ongoing support through her pregnancy and motherhood.
It feels like more than a coincidence that everything has happened the way it has and I am in awe of the fact that we are now able to help this girl who chose to give her baby life. And this has all happened without a club status yet. I hope that in addition to all this we can teach the students at St. FX that all humans have a right to live and inspire them to do something about that.