Seminarians Stand Up for Life
by Bryce Lungren
On October 2, 2011, about two dozen seminarians and monks from Mount Angel Abbey lined the busy Lancaster Drive in Salem to join in the 21st Annual Life Chain Rally. Tedd Joling, the Life Chain coordinator, said that the seminarians joined the nearly 600 other pro-life citizens who sacrificed their Sunday afternoon to promote the dignity of the human person.
With rosaries in one hand and pro-life signs in the other, seminarians stood in solidarity with their unborn brothers and sisters who have no voice of their own. According to this reporter, who also partook in the Life Chain Rally, the seminarians experienced an overall positive response from the passing citizens who would often toot their horn or give them a thumbs up. Occasionally, though, they received a different hand gesture, one of opposition.
As travelers along Lancaster Drive were busy going about their normal routines, these seminarians took time out of their demanding schedules, which include communal prayer, classes, and overall little free time, to testify against the somber reality of abortion.
Seminarian A.J. Vander Vos made the choice to break from homework and stand for life because he said "if seminarians and priests don't give witness, who will?"
Seminarian Mark Uhlenkott said he "came out to the Life Chain for the very simple reason of life!" He wanted to demonstrate that as a culture "we must stand up for unborn life and reject the evil of abortion."
Along with the seminarians at the peaceful protest was Mount Angel Seminary formation director Father Terry Tompkins. Father Terry has been active in pro-life efforts ever since his senior year in college when abortion was first declared a constitutional right.
According to the website for the National Life Chain, each year on the first Sunday of October pro-life Christians in cities all across North America are invited to stand on designated local sidewalks and pray from 2:00-3:30 p.m. for an end to abortion while holding pro-life signs. This year over 1500 cities joined the effort.
Joling said that the first Monday in October marks the anniversary of the Supreme Court's convening that eventually legalized abortions in all 50 states with the Roe V. Wade verdict in 1973. Since then, according to Oregon Right to Life, over 50 million unborn children have been clinically aborted in the United States alone. ORL estimates that 1.5 million babies are killed in this country each year - one every 20 seconds.
The Life Chain Rally also helped kick off the annual 40 Days for Life prayer vigil that is held in front of the Salem Planned Parenthood. To keep up the fight for life, Mark Uhlenkott and Father Terry arranged a two-hour time slot on Saturday mornings where they lead a group of seminarians in prayer as part of the 40 Days for Life campaign.
Seminarian Joe Paddock said that his experience at the Life Chain Rally strengthened his desire to continue to pray and witness for life in front of Planned Parenthood.
After 39 years of standing up for life, Father Terry is encouraged by the amount of seminarian involvement in the pro-life movement today. He says there is "value to persistence - we're not going away."