Living out Life Week

Cathedral Catholic High School's second annual Life Week, an event hosted by the Dons for Life club and Campus Ministry to educate students on pro-life values, took place this past week.

CCHS student Hailey Colman ‘19 passes a flower to Olivia Sung ‘19 as a part of Life Week’s Celebrate Life Friday, a day that hopes to inspire happiness around campus and celebrate all life.

Photo by Dylan Vorndran ‘19

CCHS student Hailey Colman ‘19 passes a flower to Olivia Sung ‘19 as a part of Life Week’s Celebrate Life Friday, a day that hopes to inspire happiness around campus and celebrate all life.

When Life Week guest speaker Mrs. Maria Perez Moreno became pregnant at 19-years-old and secretly terminated the pregnancy, she never imagined she would be sharing her story with the Cathedral Catholic High School student body years later.

“I was pregnant, scared, and alone,” Mrs. Moreno said.

Mrs. Moreno came to the CCHS campus for adoption and parenthood day of the school’s second annual Life Week, a week-long event hosted by the Dons for Life club and Mission and Ministry in hopes of educating students on pro-life issues.

Each of Life Week’s five days featured a theme, including health for life, adoption and parenthood, homeless advocacy, elder and end of life care, and celebration of life. Every day consisted of expert guest speakers, prayer sessions, interactive activities, inspirational messages around campus, and a unique focus on each pro-life issue.

Kicking off the week with Monday’s Health for Life day, the Dons welcomed Dr. George Delgado, founder of abortion pill rescue and the Culture of Life family health care center.

Dr. Delgado’s prenatal scientific breakthrough, which is not fully supported by the medical community, created an abortion reversal option, meaning women who take the abortion pill can reverse their decision up to 72 hours after consumption, ultimately saving the lives of babies before the abortion pill has taken full effect. 

The abortion pill is not to be confused with the morning-after pill, as the abortion pill is taken when a knowingly pregnant woman at up to 10 weeks of pregnancy can take a pill rather than a surgical abortion, Dr. Delgado said.

With more than 90 students crowded into the lecture hall, Dr. Delgado explained how he got involved in the creation of the abortion pill rescue medication and why he feels it should be given as an option worldwide.

“Even if it’s only five percent [of women that have second thoughts], that means 15 to 20,000 women a year would want to change their mind, and we argue that even if it’s only five women that they should have that second chance and it should be offered to them,” Dr. Delgado said.

The reversal option only has been available since 2012, and with more than 500 successful births after reversing abortions, abortion pill rescue is 75 percent effective with no increased chance of birth defects, according to Dr. Delgado.

Women can gain access to the abortion pill rescue online or by calling a hotline that will assist in locating nearby clinics.

“I’ve had lots of women, who after reversing their abortions and having their babies, have been so overjoyed and expressed such gratitude that we’ve been there for them for this opportunity,” Dr. Delgado said. “Not only does it save the physical life of the baby, but it also saves the spiritual life of the mother. The woman is victimized too.”

After educating students and teachers on health for life, Tuesday’s theme focused on adoption and parenthood. Not only did the Dons get to hear from guest speakers, but a few CCHS teachers brought their young children to school to celebrate parenthood.

CCHS drama teacher Miss Katie Wilson began the day by leading morning announcements, taking the opportunity to share her story of recently adopting her son, Kevin.

In a packed house, the Dons heard personal stories from three women involved with women’s care and adoption.

Mrs. Moreno, the President and CEO of Culture of Life Family Services, not only shared the story of her past, but dedicated her life to offering medical and pregnancy care to all women.

At just 19-years-old, Mrs. Moreno found herself pregnant and unmarried.

“Growing up in a traditional Catholic Hispanic family, being unmarried and pregnant was unheard of,” Mrs. Moreno said.

Scared of societal judgement and fear of the unknown, her and her boyfriend, now husband, chose to have an abortion.

“I remember driving to the facility in San Diego where there was no one to question me of anything,” Mrs. Moreno said. “How old was I? Was I with my parents? Nothing was said. They did not offer me an ultrasound, and they did not talk to me about the consequences of having an abortion.

“I still remember that day as if it was today.”

Depression, grief, shame, and addiction became an everyday reality for Mrs. Moreno and her husband, as they struggled to fully acknowledge the events of that day. After attending a healing mass where a priest, a stranger to her, acknowledged her unborn child, she realized the lasting consequences of her past.

“My soul was broken, and no one told me I would suffer these feelings for the rest of my life,” Mrs. Moreno said

After experiencing little support and almost no resources, Mrs. Moreno got involved with the Culture of Life family service center, which works to help young women in similar situations. She not only provides love and support, but affordable medical care for expecting mothers.

Miss Sarah Saccone, the full-time director of Lamb of God maternity home, spoke at Tuesday’s lunch gathering. She works solely with mothers experiencing unplanned pregnancies and assists them through the adoption process, and she brought one of the mothers from her maternity home to speak.

The unnamed woman shared with students that she had given up her baby for adoption just three weeks prior. Already a single mother to a young boy, she knew becoming a mother again would not be financially possible. So, she decided to give her child to a family struggling with fertility.

“Adoption is so important because it saves babies, changes the lives of their mothers, and creates families,” Miss Saccone said. “I think an important question to ask for all of you is if you can think of a situation where abortion would be the more loving choice than adoption.”

Adoption allows women facing unplanned pregnancy who are not ready to be parents an alternative by giving their baby to a loving home. The majority of families wanting to adopt struggle with infertility, so adoption can benefit both the birth mother and a family unable to conceive.

“I think we can all agree that when you look around you value the lives of your classmates, you know that they each have dignity as human beings, and they were all created in the image of God,” Miss Saccone said. “Each of us was created for a purpose, and our lives were not meant to be taken away.

“Adoption provides a way for moms who aren’t in a good situation to still give their babies a wonderful life.”

Wednesday’s focus on homeless brought many homelessness experts and homeless shelter representatives to campus, as more than 50 students gathered in the Guadalupe Center for a group discussion.

Sitting in a large circle, a combination of CCHS students and homeless experts openly discussed San Diego’s growing homelessness problem, lasting effects, possible solutions, and student involvement.

Campus ministry and CCHS Dean of Mission and Ministry Mrs. Stacy Wells’ homelessness task force organized the event with the help of CCHS student leaders Brady Reynolds ‘19 and Mikaela Adams ‘19.

Thursday brought appreciation for elder and end of life care, and the Dons welcomed Dr. Ted Rotunda, emergency room doctor and father of CCHS student Emily Rotunda ‘20. He used his time to explain his pro-life responses to common arguments in favor of physician-assisted suicide.

The medical field is usually a commonly pro-choice industry, yet Dr. Rotunda keeps his Catholic belief system strong throughout his career, holding the teachings of the Catholic Church close to his heart.

“The Catholic Church believes that pain medication is good and that it can be used to mitigate suffering, but it should never be used to cause someone’s death,” Dr. Rotunda said.

One main argument in support of physician-assisted suicide is the cruelty in letting patients suffer without giving them the choice to end their life is they so choose.

“It’s not all or nothing,” Dr. Rotunda said. “It’s not ‘we let you suffer or we kill you’, there’s a spectrum. The Catholic Church has been on the forefront of palliative care, the branch of medicine that’s working to help stop suffering.”

Dr. Rotunda also discussed the issue of financial struggles, as some patients wish to end their suffering due to the extreme medical costs they feel will only increase with their life. He spoke to the importance of insurance, breaking down the immense costs that insurance will cover, but he also included that in cases where a patient does not have insurance, there is an emergency pool of money that comes from Medicare to assist these situations.

Contrasting the educational themes of the days prior, Friday solely focused on celebrating the dignity of all life through positive, fun lunchtime activities. The knoll was full of bubbles, bright balloons, and games. Dons for Life club members handed out free flowers and popcorn for all students while happy music blasted through the speakers.

“Celebrate life day was our way of ending the week on an energetic, positive note,” CCHS student and Dons for Life club member Megan Monroe ‘19 said. “We covered the campus in balloons and positive messages, handed out flowers, and did our best to spread joy around campus.”

Although pro-life topics have a controversial and sometimes negative connotation, the Dons for Life club and campus ministry worked together to educate the student body on these issues and inspire students to make their own decisions.

“No matter what your beliefs are, abortion is an important topic,” Dons for Life leadership team member Daniel Pronko ‘19 said. “However, because of the emotion and controversy tied to it, many people avoid talking about it. Life week is all about having positive dialogues regarding these significant topics, including abortion, that are often set aside due to their complex and controversial nature.”

Along with encouraging positive and educated conversations regarding life issues, Dons for Life also hoped to help share of the stories of guest speakers.

“God had mercy on me, and I promise to have mercy on whoever he brings to me,” Mrs. Moreno said.