Program #0217 for Wednesday, January 18, 2012: St. Mary High School, Lynn, and the March for Life

January 18, 2012

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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Fr. Matt Williams

Today’s guest(s): Fr. Brian Flynn, Pastor of St. Mary Parish, Lynn; Carl DiMaiti, Principal of St. Mary High School; Andrea Alberti and Chris Carmody, campus ministers and religious education teachers; Helio Neto, Cristian Abarca, Megan Stacey, and Amy Donovan, students

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Today’s topics: St. Mary High School, Lynn, and the March for Life

Summary of today’s show: The annual March for Life in Washington, DC, is coming up this week and again the Archdiocese is sending busloads of pilgrims, including more than 100 from St. Mary High School in Lynn. Scot Landry and Fr. Matt Williams talk to the pastor, Fr. Brian Flynn; the principal, Carl DiMaiti; religion teachers Andrea Alberti and Chris Carmody; and four students, Helio Neto, Cristian Abarca, Megan Stacey, and Amy Donovan, about their experience of the March, how those experiences affect their school, how they prepare for months—including before-school meetings each week—for the March, and how they petitioned the local media to give at least as much attention to 400,000 people from all walks of life Marching for Life in DC as they do to a few dozen Occupying Boston’s Dewey Square.

1st segment: Scot said Fr. Matt must be the Catholic Church’s expert on Tim Tebow. Last week, he gave a few interviews on the Patriots vs. the Broncos football game and Bronco’s quarterback Tim Tebow, with his very public witness of faith. They discussed how we all have the responsibility for handing on the witness of the faith. Fr. Matt said he can be an example of living the witness of your faith.

They discussed LIFT on Tuesday night, which included Trent Horn, Respect Life director for the Diocese of Phoenix. They’ve been discussing the dignity of the human person. This month’s topic was abortion and next month is physician-assisted suicide.

Scot said next week will be 39 years since the Roe v. Wade decision and many people gather in Washington, DC, to mark that occasion. Fr. Matt said he’s attended for many years now and the Office for the New Evangelization organizes pilgrimages of youth to attend. It is one of the most powerful and inspiring things that they do each year, to watch what happens to them in this experience, including a deepening of their life in Christ and wanting to witnesses to that. Fr. Matt said St. Mary, Lynn, is bringing 103 people to the March.

2nd segment: Scot welcomed Fr. Flynn, Carl DiMaiti, and Andrea Alberti in a remote studio in Lynn. He asked Carl how many people are coming from St. Mary’s High School in Lynn and why it’s such a big deal in Lynn. Carl said it starts with the leadership of the school, including the head of school, the pastor, and the campus ministers. He said they take great pride in being the top high school in the archdiocese. Scot asked Fr. Flynn what the March for Life means to him. He said it’s great to participate with so many students. Last year was his first at St. Mary’s and when he saw how many students were going and how important it was for them that he go, he went. The school and especially the pro-life aspect is the part of the parish assignment that makes him so happy and blessed to be at St. Mary’s.

Fr. Matt said he’s had the privilege of being a priest-chaplain on their bus and he’s found the teens to be well-prepared and understanding how this is a pilgrimage which includes sacrifice. He asked Andrea how they help the students prepare. She said Chris Carmody coordinates the pilgrimage and they start preparation three months ahead. The students commit to two meetings a week, at 7:15 am for one and after school for another. They pray and then have a theme, which this year was martyrdom and dying to self. They are also talking about being called by name, as John Paul II said, and that each pilgrim matters.

Scot asked Carl who does the recruiting of the students for the March. He said Andrea and Chris play a key role and the faculty is on board and supporting it. The teachers have to arrange for the kids to be out of school for three days. When the teens come back and share their experience, it ignites and enthusiasm for next year. It’s one of the biggest events of the year. Fr. Brian said this March is a big piece of what goes on St. Mary’s but it’s only a piece of it. What leads to going to the March is what happens the rest of the year in the four years they attend the high school. They have a foundation created for them in their faith.

Scot asked how many students go each of their years at the school. Andrea said about 90% of the students who go, go every year. When they ask the teens what they loved the most, it’s always those opportunities for adoration or other experiences of Christ’s presence. Their experience of being a unique unrepeatable soul with a mission and a purpose who is loved is the biggest benefit of the pilgrimage. She said last year’s homily at a Mass after the pilgrimage by Fr. Brian gave them new energy and excitement.

Fr. Brian said last year he was struck by the small blurbs in the newspapers and other media about the March, when he’d seen 400,000 people, including so many teens, take part. So during the Mass, he passed out his newspapers in the church to show the kids that nothing was in them about it. He asked them how they felt about it and they decided that their voices were not being heard. He said this was a challenge to them, in their voices not being heard in so many ways because they are counter-cultural. Andrea said they could write to the media and ask them to give better coverage in the future. Carl said it’s a great way to combine various academic lessons, including persuasive writing skills.

Fr. Matt said to Fr. Brian that a number of young men from the school have attended St. Andrew Dinners with Cardinal Seán, to check out the seminary, and asked if this was connected to this pilgrimage. Fr. Brian said it is because it leads them to think about things they might not have thought about otherwise, including what else God might be calling them to do.

3rd segment: It’s time to announce this week’s winner of the WQOM Benefactor Raffle.

Our prizes this week are 2 books by Danny Abramowicz, Peter Herbeck, Curtis Martin, and Brian Patrick: Crossing the Goal: Playbook on Our Father and Crossing the Goal: Playbook on the Virtues.

This week’s benefactor card raffle winner is Geraldine DiBenedetto from Malden, MA. Congratulation, Geraldine!

If you would like to be eligible to win in an upcoming week, please visit WQOM.org. For a one-time $30 donation, you’ll receive the Station of the Cross benefactor card and key tag, making you eligible for WQOM’s weekly raffle of books, DVDs, CDs and religious items. We’ll be announcing the winner each Wednesday during “The Good Catholic Life” program.

4th segment: Scot asked Helio about his letter he wrote to local media. He read the letter on air, in which he talked about how 400,000 people should media coverage, comparing that to the Occupy movement, which got so much more coverage. A person will get on the front-page for murder, but the millions of murders of innocents and the protests by people against get ignored. Scot said he liked how he compared what happens at the March to the Occupy movement. Helio said he hasn’t received a response yet and he’s hoping the media will cover the March.

Amy Donovan then read her letter. She said her aim is to save lives lost in abortion and to help the mothers who make this choice. She said it’s not about changing people’s minds, but about standing up what they believe. She asked the media not to ignore the 400,000 voices. Fr. Matt said he liked how she noted 500 young people who stand up for what they believe in and that’s what’s newsworthy, even if the media disagree with what they believe. He asked her how many times she’s been. Amy said she went last year and it was a great experience. The March was breathtaking, seeing all the people together marching for the same principle. Fr. Matt said it’s a beautiful realization when you realize you are not alone in your belief, not to mention seeing how big the Church is, you realize what it is to realize what it’s like to be One Body in Christ.

Fr. Matt asked Chris’s reaction reading these letters. He said it’s rewarding to know the students realize that this isn’t an excuse to get out of school, but that they see the purpose of the trip and value the unrepeatable souls that are lost in abortion. He said it’s great to read the letters and see the students react. It’s easy to get caught up in the logistics of the trip, so the letters help to remind him of the true purpose of the trip. Helio said he went on last year’s trip and the highlight was seeing the hundreds of thousands of people, when you can’t see a beginning or end to the crowd.

Fr. Matt asked Amy what the preparation for this trip was like compared to last year. Since it’s her second trip, she’s taken a leadership role to help those who are going for the first time to prepare and knowing what to expect has gotten her very excited for this trip.

Fr. Matt mentioned Tim Tebow and how his open faith draws positive and negative reactions. He asked them what it’s like for them in their relationships with everyone in their circles for them to stand up for life. Amy said while others may think she’s wasting her time, but she feels supported by the St. Mary’s community. Sometimes people are shocked because she is pro-life and she just repeats to them that everyone should be given a chance to live and stands firm in that. Scot asked Helio about reactions he gets to going on the March. He said most people he know are pro-life but even those who don’t agree, respect him for it.

5th segment: Scot welcomed Meghan and Cristian to the show. He asked Meghan to read her letter. She wrote about her inalienable rights and how those rights have been infringed by being denied to certain groups. She stands pro-life to fight such injustices. As participant in the March for Life, her presence and voice have been ignored. Scot complimented her on how she infused her patriotism with her pro-life stance. she said as an American and a Catholic that those should go together.

Fr. Matt asked Meghan how this year’s March for Life will be different from her first one last year. Meghan said with each year she changes a lot and she knows that while it’s the same message and same basic action, it will be an entirely different experience and effect on her. Scot asked her how she shares that voice she speaks of with friends and others. Meghan said even within her family, she had to educate them about abortion or the Gospel of Life that the Church teaches and by getting involved with it more herself, it’s helped them to understand it’s importance for them and for others at her school. Even with her friends, when she’s not specifically talking about her beliefs, she makes it apparent through her actions.

Scot asked Cristian to read his letter. Cristian wrote that he thought the March was too big to go unnoticed, but when he came back he was disappointed to see how little coverage it got. The medias more attention to 20,000 watching a basketball game, but not to 400,000 marching in Washington, DC. Scot said he was struck by Cristian’s words about how he is walking not just for himself, but for all those who have no one to speak for themselves.

Andrea said she sees the students come to understanding of why God made them and how God loves them. Scot asked Cristian about how Andrea recognizes how much he has grown and changed. Cristian gave credit to Andrea and Chris for their teaching and leading in classes. Andrea said participating in the Thirty Hour Famine that they do during the Easter Triduum helped her to focus on her faith and on trying to become a saint.

6th segments: Scot asked Chris about the New Evangelization and how he sees these students as the protagonists of it. Chris said he sees them bringing the message of Christ to everyone, including faculty and staff and families. They even bring some of their parents back to the Church. Scot asked Andrea what they’re doing in the religion department that makes the students want to live their faith. Andrea remembered in her job interview that the principal said “We are uncompromisingly Catholic.” That’s a big part of it. In the religion department, they took on the new framework from the US Bishops’ Conference which focuses on a relationship with Christ.

Fr. Matt said Andrea and Chris mentor young people in the life of the faith. He said Fr. Brian’s comment that the pilgrimage is part of a whole framework of what they do to form young people and asked how they do that. Chris said it’s not just the religion department but the whole faculty. They build them up in every area, through relationships, and that allows them to witness to them. They witness to them in sports and other extracurricular activity. Andrea said every Tuesday at 7:15am there are 50 to 100 students gather for prayer before school, which inspires the teachers. Scot asked what leadership responsibilities they ask of students who have been on the March. Chris said they ask them to be mentors and witnesses to the younger students. They get up and give a witness before all the others to help prepare others for each step on the pilgrimage. Chris said when they come back from the pilgrimage you see a new desire for Christ and a new interest in doing their best in all areas of their life.

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