Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

pro life future 0010 webYoung activists socialize at St. Gerard’s Center for Life on Eaton Street in Hartford during the first meeting of Hartford Pro-Life Future Young Professionals. (Photo by Shelley Wolf)HARTFORD – A small but passionate group of young activists gathered at St. Gerard’s Center for Life, a local pregnancy resource center, to give birth during the summer to a new force in the pro-life movement: Hartford Pro-Life Future Young Professionals.

Since that first initial-interest meeting last summer, the original members have already attended a pro-life lecture at Yale University, are in the process of setting up a new apartment for an expectant mother and have agreed to help with an upcoming office painting project. They also held their first official open meeting on Oct. 28 for newcomers interested in joining the pro-life cause.

Plans for November are equally ambitious and include traveling to New York City on Nov. 5 for sidewalk counseling training by the Sisters of Life. Members will also pray outside an abortion clinic in Hartford from 9-10 a.m. Nov. 12, then plan to meet immediately afterward from 10-11:30 a.m. at the St. Gerard Center for Life.

“Their enthusiasm is great. They’re just so full of fire,” said Leticia Velasquez, director of St. Gerard’s Center for Life, which hosted the new young-adult pro-lifers. “They have a solid group of 12 very committed members.”

In addition to offering the young people a place for meetings, Mrs. Velasquez said she is taking members along with her to any event that might prove educational. She is also inviting individuals to pitch in and help with projects at St. Gerard’s Center.

The pro-life movement is now made up of an older generation that has put infrastructure in place, Mrs. Velasquez explained, and a younger generation that is full of much-appreciated new energy.

“We’re acting kind of as a bridge, taking advantage of the structure we’ve built,” she said, “but they’re breathing new life into the movement.”

Hartford Pro-Life Future is intended to be a pro-life community of young adults for the purpose of fellowship, action and change in Hartford. It’s a local chapter of the national organization, Pro-Life Future.

An outgrowth of Students for Life, Pro-Life Future was founded in 2015 and aims to keep people age 20-40 engaged in the pro-life movement after they graduate from college. The national organization has chapters in major cities throughout the United States and is now reaching out to smaller cities, such as Hartford.

The long-term goal of the Hartford group is to invite other young adults in the area to join and meet at least twice a month: once for fun and bonding, and at least once for an activism-related service project.

According to C.J. Williams, a national coordinator from Boston who helped the Hartford chapter get up and running, future service projects may involve sidewalk counseling outside of abortion clinics, pro-life apologetics in local neighborhoods, assistance at pregnancy centers, distributing flyers on sex trafficking and any number of other activities the group may dream up.

Some of the first members of the Hartford chapter explained their reasons for joining the fledgling group.

Bridget Scott, 23, lives in West Hartford, has an undergraduate degree in social work from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and is studying for a master’s degree in pastoral studies at Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell. She described herself as “pro-social justice and pro-life.”

“I got passionate about pro-life work in D.C. and am learning how it’s done here,” she said. Ms. Scott said she would like to work toward the day when a woman’s pregnancy “is not even a crisis – when there are so many ways for her to keep her child and be supported.”

Audrey Adams-Mejia, 16, attends Mother Divine Grace High School, a home-school distance academy, and attends St. Christopher Church in East Hartford. She also interns at the Family Institute of Connecticut in Hartford, where she is learning more about pro-life legislation.

“I did a rosary outside an abortion clinic once but I want to get more involved,” she said. “I definitely understand that this is the biggest issue facing America right now and it’s just being ignored.”

During the group’s initial meeting, Mrs. Velasquez took the young adults on a tour of St. Gerard’s pregnancy center, with its ultrasound equipment and rooms packed with diapers and baby clothes.

St. Gerard’s is the only pregnancy resource center in Hartford that assists young mothers and women with crisis pregnancies, she said. The next nearest center is Birthright of Hartford on Main Street in East Hartford.

She told the group about one particular post-abortive woman she met who had regrets. “She thought she had no choice,” Mrs. Velasquez recalled. “Those are the ones we need to be there for.”

Mrs. Velasquez also told the Transcript why she offered the center’s little two-story house in the South End at 59 Eaton St. as a regular meeting place for the new young adult pro-life group.

“We want to be the epicenter for the pro-life movement,” she said. “We want to give them a place to meet and feel empowered.”

For information about joining Hartford Pro-Life Future Young Professionals, and on upcoming meeting dates or events, visit www.facebook.com/HartfordPLF or email hartford@prolifefuture.org.

For more information about St. Gerard’s Center or about crisis pregnancy support, call St. Gerard’s Center for Life at (860) 205-7178 or e-mail st.gerard.director@gmail.com.