Two Caldwell Students Add their Energy to Movement
Caldwell College students Rebeca Muñoz and Lia Canavan were among the young people who attended the annual conference at the Catholic University of America.
"There were young people from different college campuses willing to be taught how to spread the pro-life message throughout their schools more effectively," Muñoz explained, adding that New Jersey Republican congressmen Mike Ferguson (7th District) and Chris Smith (4th District) also attended the conference.
Founded in 1988 at Georgetown University in Washington, SFLA, formerly "American Collegians for Life," was started by a handful of students to educate and identify pro-life student leaders, equip college pro-lifers with the training, skills and resources to be effective and successful while promoting student activity to other local, college and national groups.
The SFLA conference featured education, training and networking sessions along with workshops for students interested in making a difference on their campuses.
One of the highlights for Muñoz was the Feminists for Life Panel. "Ten women spoke about their experiences with abortion," she said. "It was so inspiring to see their strength and vulnerability. It is a life-or-death issue."
Currently in her junior year, Muñoz is involved in SFLA activities at Caldwell College, while Canavan, a sophomore, serves as the local president for the campus organization. Being part of a prolife group on campus can be difficult, Munoz confessed. "It is not the 'in' thing to do. It is more convenient to be pro-choice. In class, I feel that I am the only one who isn't for abortion. People always ask about the 'exceptions' to abortion. I have to keep focusing on the truth and find support at Mass and through my friends who share the same values."
Although this was Muñoz's first SFLA conference, she has attended the March for Life eight times. "This March was much calmer than previous years. More people attend the marches each year and it inspires me to continue fighting the good fight. You have to keep speaking the truth even if it does not want to be heard. You have to keep believing in prolife and keep walking with Jesus."
Muñoz sees a lack of publicity on the March for Life, which she calls a 'blip on the radar' of today's mainstream media. However, she is hopeful that her voice will be heard. "The March for Life brought me so much joy and hope for my generation. Even if it was not publicized or acknowledged by others, I felt empowered and even privileged to be walking for truth and life."
Until this year Canavan never had been to the March for Life and was impressed with the amount of young people who attended the demonstration. "I was overwhelmed by the march," she said. "Everyone had such a positive energy and the youth rally (the Rally for Life and Youth Mass at the Verizon Center in Washington) before the march was out of this world. There was a family atmosphere there. Even if you didn't know the person next to you, they had so much enthusiasm and were very kind. I can't wait to go back."
As president of SFLA on campus, the conference was a great resource for Canavan. "I really felt surrounded with amazing people. The conference was a long day that went by so quickly because it was so thoroughly interesting, energetic and loads of fun."
Canavan also is active in campus ministry and sees the trepidation with young people when discussing abortion. "It is difficult to be prolife, but I strive to have energy and keep the faith. I feel some young people are pro-life and are afraid to come out and say it. It is such a distinct, strong call to conscience and the facts and truth are in front of everyone's face.
"Being at the march was seeing democracy in action," she said. "People don't want change. The (SFLA conference) gave us an opportunity to all network and be motivated by each other, which I think was such a gift."