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BEARfoot for Babies sees record turnout
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By Anna Maria Basquez
In the darkness of morning and before Greeley’s University of Northern Colorado campus came alive Oct. 6, 20-something volunteers for pro-life week scattered across the lawn in front of the student center, planting 3,300 crosses to represent the number of lives lost to abortion each day, singing the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
But it was after the song was done that the sound made 27-year-old Ashley Loomis think of the crucifixion.
“When we were quiet after the prayers, you could hear the hammering of the hammers,” said Loomis, 27, volunteer coordinator for the Little Sisters of the Poor. “Then it was almost like listening to Christ being nailed to the cross—the constant hammering and picking up crosses. …It was interesting.”
Tara Steffen, 19, who is majoring in secondary education, said it was her first time to the event.
As she planted crosses, she said, “I was just thankful that I got a chance to live, but what could these babies have done for our world, or what could they have been?”
The cross planting was just one of the many events during the second annual BEARfoot for Babies Life Week.
This year, it became what many in attendance said was possibly the largest campus pro-life event in the nation.
“According to the speakers, and they speak at a lot of events across the country, that was probably the largest pro-life event that has ever happened at a university in the U.S.,” said Father Rocco Porter, pastor at St. Peter Church in Greeley, who attended most of the six notable speaking events held Oct. 3-9. “If there has been (a campus event) bigger they would know about it,” he added, “and they said they didn’t know.”
The priest said he also noticed an increase in attendance to this year’s healing Mass, celebrated this year by Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., which drew 200.
BEARfoot for Babies invited six well-known speakers, hoping to get even one. Five of the six said yes. Among them were author Brian Gail, who penned the year’s best-selling Catholic book, “Fatherless”; renowned UCLA student Lila Rose, who has gone undercover to expose practices at Planned Parenthood Clinics; and former abortion clinic owner turned pro-life advocate Carol Everett. Bioethics expert Father Tad Pacholzyck spoke about stem-cell research and Rebecca Kiessling, conceived in rape, also spoke.
Approximately 400 people attended Everett’s talk, at least 350 attended Father Pacholzyck’s appearance and other speakers averaged more than 100 where last year’s first event speaker attendance averaged about 50 to 100, volunteer committee members said.
Annie Romansky, 21, an elementary education major, participated in going barefoot as a pro-life statement.
“I went barefoot all week and all day long,” Romansky said. “It was a great way to let other people know what our beliefs are, and it was a way for all of us to meet and make just a small sacrifice for those who will never be able to walk on this earth.”
Steffen said she was amazed by the undercover research Rose detailed in her investigations of Planned Parenthood. She also said Rose spoke to research “that African-Americans get aborted more than white children too, which was shocking.”
Father Porter said it was Everett, a former abortion clinic owner turned pro-life advocate, who opened his eyes to the practices of Planned Parenthood.
“They seem to seep into our childrens’ lives from a very early age,” Father Porter said. “I knew abortion clinics were bad, but I didn’t know how bad they could be until after her talk.
“I knew they did abortions,” he continued, “but I didn’t know they just seem to prey on our children and seem to find ways of promoting for them to get pregnant three or four times so they can do more abortions.”
Everett, he said, gave examples of how abortion clinics, when she worked in them, found ways to make a girl a repeat customer. He said he also learned Planned Parenthood is a primary writer of the literature on sex education that is in public schools.
“I think what needs to happen is more of a teaching to parents of theology of the body and leaving it to the parents to decide on when to have those conversations rather than leaving it up to the schools,” Father Porter said.
Loomis, who attended Father Tad Pacholzyck’s talk, admitted that beforehand she thought she knew something about stem cell research. It wasn’t until she heard Father Pacholzyck that she realized, “I didn’t know anything.
“There’s so much evidence for why adult stem cells are so successful and widely used and actually are curing a lot of debilitating diseases,” she said. “He showed this list on PowerPoint slides of probably 300 or 400 different things that have been treated successfully with adult stem cells. Then he went on to embryonic stem cells and it was zero (ailments that have been cured by them).
“There’s such a hype around it,” she said. “What, out of all the 10 or so different types of stem cells that exist, there is only one not approved by the Catholic Church and the only one that hasn’t been approved (embryonic) doesn’t help anything anyway.”