Photos: Generation Life spoke to Confirmation students at St. Sylvester’s, Medford, March 7. Melissa St. Ledger, above, addressed the young ladies, while Kevin Kast, below, spoke to the men.
The message that speakers from Generation Life most want to convey to the young people of the Rockville Centre Diocese is that, beyond what society may tell them about sexuality, each one of them “is made for infinite love.”
“That is so foundational, that once someone understands it, they are going to be changed in a radical way,” said Melissa St. Ledger, a member of the Generation Life team that is enthusiastically sharing a message of chastity and the dignity of all life with junior high, high school and college students at 40 events during a three-week visit here.
“My favorite part is when I speak to young girls about chastity and see their faces when they learn about authentic love,” said St. Ledger, a 22-year-old recent college graduate.
“I tell them ‘you are loved. You are made for infinite love.’ When they know that, there won’t be a question of chastity,” she said. “What other way would we choose to live, if we understand our glory and dignity?”
On its website (www.generationlife.org), Generation Life is described as “a movement of young people committed to building a culture of life by educating our peers on the pro-life and chastity messages and developing new leaders for the pro-life movement. We believe that by spreading the message of chastity, we can end abortion at the root cause.”
College graduates commit to one year of working as pro-life missionaries. Some, like St. Ledger, are part of a travel team. Others are part of the permanent teams located in the Archdioceses of New York and Philadelphia.
Allison O’Brien, director of the Respect Life Office of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, is very excited about Generation Life’s visit here. “We did a pilot program last April and reached over 1,000 students and got great approval from the kids and adults,” she said.
“Generation Life is a wonderful resource for our kids to find out about the dignity of the human body. -Allison O’Brien, director diocesan respect life office
“The kids respond very well,” to Generation Life’s message, she said. “These young adults present something totally new and different, something totally stress free. The idea of loving yourself, and loving your future spouse that is waiting for you, takes a lot of pressure off of them. It can take destructive behavior out of the picture.”
“Generation Life is a wonderful resource for our kids to find out about the dignity of the human body. There are so many young adults and even older adults who haven’t gotten that message,” O’Brien said. During their stay, the group is speaking at parishes, high schools and on college campuses. The talks are tailored to specific age groups and are often presented in separate sessions for boys and girls. Parents are included in many of the programs.
On March 22, there will be a presentation open to all seventh and eighth graders at St. Matthews in Dix Hills at 7:30 p.m. This event is co-sponsored by the Respect Life committees in the parishes of Deanery 8 and those interested in attending should contact them in advance at HuntingtonDeanery8@gmail.com.
St. Ledger, a graduate of Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, who was looking for a job as a high-school religion teacher, heard about Generation Life at a career fair and knew instantly she wanted to be a part of it. “My heart was just on fire,” she recalled. “I had to do this.”
Even though living out of a suitcase for a year has its challenges, the fire in St. Ledger’s heart continues to burn. “In the struggles, there is so much joy. This (mission) brings me life. I really love it.”
“I love being able to relate to them,” she said of her audiences that are not far from her in age. Generation Life is “very much about young people speaking to our peers.” St. Ledger’s young face and contagious exuberance allow her to blend right in with her audiences and at the same time present them a relate-able example of someone who has embraced chastity and the dignity of life.
Although people are bombarded with misinformation about their sexuality in today’s culture, St. Ledger says she is “not discouraged. We know that truth will reign.”
“There is so much hope in this message of life and love. Even those who have had a rough past, there is so much hope for,” she adds. “The Lord rejoices so much in kids who come back to Him.”
Story and photos by Mary Iapalucci