Activist to teens: Jesus’ mercy is available after abortion – Arkansas Catholic

Diocese’s Weekend for Life for teenagers returns after two-year hiatus following COVID

Published: February 2, 2023

Chris Price

Julia Holcomb Misley, who became pregnant as a teenager and aborted Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler’s child and later converted to Catholicism and became an anti-abortion activist, was the keynote speaker at the Little Rock Diocese’s Weekend for Life for teenagers on April 21. January.

Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll are surefire ways to get teens’ attention, but it’s the impact of these activities that can have a lifelong impact.

That’s what 300 Catholic teens and adult companions heard who packed the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Little Rock during the return of Weekend for Life Jan. 21-22.

The nightly “lock-in” event for high school students focuses on issues of the right to life from a youthful perspective and includes icebreakers, praise and worship music by Team Jesus, a teenage band from Christ the King Church in Little Rock, Keynote Speech, prayer, skits and dance.

It was the first time since 2020 that the Diocesan Office for Youth Work has been able to host the event after being canceled for the past two years due to precautionary measures against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In normal everyday life you don’t see many people who are really passionate about their faith, but just come here and see how many people there are in your state alone who really love God and life and just want to show that love, that’s really great said Zachary Ellis, 16, of Little Rock.

This year’s keynote speaker was Julia Holcomb Misley, who in 1973 as a 16-year-old became a friend and eventually a ward of then-25-year-old Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler so he could take her across state lines when his band played tour. During their relationship, she became pregnant, but he convinced her to have an abortion.

As she did so, she discovered that Tyler was dating other women and their relationship ended. Shortly thereafter, she met and married Bradley Misley, her husband of 40 years. She converted to Catholicism and became a mother of seven and a committed pro-life activist.

“I hope these teenagers will be encouraged that life is a treasure and a gift that they should protect and cherish and that the church is a wonderful force and a force for good,” the 65-year-old said after her speech to Arkansas Catholic. “I also hope that in their most vulnerable moments, when they need mercy the most and are most afraid to ask for it, they will never forget that Jesus is there and loves them and forgives them. I want to encourage women and men who have committed serious sins never to be afraid to approach the sacraments or to return to Christ. He is merciful and loves us.”

Gillian Lachowsky, 18, co-chair of the diocesan youth council and a member of St Mary Church in Altus, was inspired by Misley’s message.

“It’s crazy that something like this happened to her in the first place, and the fact that she was able to take all the bad things that happened and use them for good in that kind of environment is just amazing,” she said. “It’s amazing what God can do in such a dire situation. It just really helps to have events like this that you can go to and have people praying with you and for you and speakers who have real experience of issues in that area.”

Zachary Ellis, 16, a member of Our Lady of the Holy Souls Church in Little Rock, said he knows people who have been going through the struggles over whether or not to have an abortion. Being with like-minded teenagers at Weekend for Life is comforting and comforting, he said.

“Every life is sacred, from the womb to the deathbed, and I don’t think it’s right for that to be taken away from us,” he said. “In normal everyday life you don’t see many people who are really passionate about their faith, but just come here and see how many people there really are in your state alone who love God and love life and just want to show that love, that’s real Great.”

On January 22, the youth and companions participated in the Eucharistic procession and Mass for Life at the Statehouse Convention Center.

Liz Tingquist, director of the diocese’s youth and campus ministries, said Weekend for Life attracted 600 teenagers each year at its peak, but that number had dropped to about 400 before the pandemic. As previous participants have graduated, encouraging teenagers and their youth groups to participate has been a challenge.

“Now that they’ve had a wonderful weekend of a lifetime, they’ll go home and talk about it, and in the future more people will want to attend our nationwide events,” she said. “Some are already talking about just not having that experience and wanting to do it again. They are ready to come to the annual Catholic Youth Convention in April.”

Please read our comment policy before posting.

Article comments powered by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

| |
Back to top button