They will rise before the sun, pack up a few cars â€” which their parents and teachers will drive â€” and travel for more than three hours. After that, they will gather outside a Wichita facility and pray that those entering the building will have a change of heart.
â€œRemaining silent is like shutting off a life,â€ said Hannah Smith, a senior at St. Johnâ€™s Catholic School in Beloit, Kan. Smith belongs to a pro-life group at the school that stands outside abortion sellers and participates in peaceful protests.
This year, the students are taking it a step further. They are planning the Catholic School Life Rally, which will take place Dec. 6 â€” hopefully across the country. Students at St. Johnâ€™s are asking faith-based schools to pray outside such facilities in their hometowns and cities.
Luke Eilert, also a senior, first visited an abortion seller when he was a freshman. He traveled to Wichita â€” where the closest facility is located â€” with a group from the school.
â€œWe want to show those mothers who are thinking about getting an abortion that people do care about that baby, and that theyâ€™re not alone in their lives,â€ Eilert told CitizenLink.
These trips began about five years ago, said Andrew Niewald, who teaches theology at the school. He and other educators realized the lessons they were teaching on abortion â€” via video and online information â€” were not making the impact they were hoping.
â€œWe said, â€˜You know what, letâ€™s take these kids to the front lines of the clinics,â€™â€ he said. â€œWeâ€™ve done it every year since. Last year, afterwards, some of the kids said, â€˜Why donâ€™t we coordinate something so that all Catholic and all Protestant schools can do a field trip like this?â€™â€
Eilert said the entire school â€” about 40 students â€” will participate in the Dec. 6 event at the Wichita facility.
He agrees that itâ€™s a long drive.
â€œBut no distance is too far to drive to do this. Weâ€™re hoping that this picks up some momentum and other people can hear about it and they can participate in it, too.â€
Niewald said the experience always has a profound effect on students. One time, a pregnant girl saw the group, talked with the students and changed her mind.
Other times, the pregnant women and girls go in with a baby bump â€œand come out without one,â€ he said. â€œThat has a deep impact on students.â€