Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 28, 2002
Pro-life leaders emerge from Drayton Valley conference
Teenage pair spread 'good news' about chastity, pro-life
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Teenagers Mark Isinger and Joanne Pollock take a counter-cultural stance when they declare themselves to be pro-life.
But not only are they pro-life, they've also confidently stepped into leadership roles in the abortion and chastity debates.
"I feel called by God to do this," Isinger says. "I feel this is my call at this particular time in my life."
Isinger, a member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Sherwood Park, and Pollock, a student from Millarville, just south of Calgary, have been doing this as a team, speaking about abortion and chastity at high schools around the Calgary area for the past 10 months.
His message is simple. "I tell them to examine what the unborn is. That's the question we need to answer. I give them the evidence and the obvious answer is that the unborn is a human being. So then we are killing human beings (through abortion)."
Where do the activist teens get their inspiration? From Drayton Valley's annual Youth for Life Conference, which Isinger has attended the past three years. This year, he ran a workshop at the event and had a display with pro-life literature and photos.
Isinger said he and 15-year-old Pollock have been able to change many minds through their presentations. "This is a very rewarding ministry," the young man said. "We always get very positive feedback from people."
"Coming (to the conference) is refreshing," he says. "It's like the archbishop says, 'You come, you get refreshed and nurtured and then you go out' and work at it."
Isinger was one of more than 200 junior and senior high students from across Alberta who attended this year's conference at St. Anthony School Oct. 19. The day-long event featured lectures on abortion and chastity by members of the Life Vision Communications team, an energetic group of young adults from Radway.
There was also an emphasis on healthy lifestyles and pro-life morals and values. And there was music - lots of it -- most of it provided by the Young Defenders of Canada, a group aged 12 to 30.
Conference participants were urged to boycott close to 20 multinational corporations who are funding Planned Parenthood, including Levi's, Sony, Walt Disney, Johnson & Johnson, Tylenol and Advil.
Youth for Life organizer Anne Pinkoski is happy with the conference's success over the past seven years.
"I think what we are doing is we are training leaders," she said, mentioning the likes of Isinger and Pollock, both of whom were formed through the conference. She also mentioned her daughter Suzin Pinkoski, 21, who is currently in Ireland organizing a group that will promote chastity in high schools throughout Ireland.
Pinkoski said many more young pro-life youth across Alberta have become activists through the Drayton Valley conference. Some spread the message in simpler ways, like standing in a life chain, or walking into a McDonald's Restaurant wearing a pro-life T-shirt.
"By having a conversation with a person who is very offended by the T-shirt's message and by defending that, they are becoming convicted and bolder," she said.
"I think that the abortion issue to these kids is what Vietnam was to the '60s kids. It's their cause. They are wearing T-shirts that say 'Stop killing my generation' and that's their message."
Pinkoski says the leaders are formed with much prayer support. The conference begins with Mass, there is Eucharistic Adoration throughout the day and people from across Canada offer prayers.
This year youth as young as 12 came from as far away as the Northwest Territories and all across Alberta.
Amanda MacDonald and her mom Angela journeyed from Sherwood Park to the conference. "I wanted to understand what abortion is all about," the 13-year-old said. "Now I know it's a terrible thing that is happening all over the world and should be stopped."
What's Amanda going to do to stop it?
"I'll write letters to the people that sponsor abortion," she replied.
"If we don't stand for what we believe in, it will continue to spread and babies will continue to die," said 12-year-old Rayna Nawrocki of Fort Saskatchewan.
Brad McCallum, 16, is president of the 12-member Drayton Valley pro-life group, which sponsors the conference. "I've been coming here for four years and this conference has shaped my morals and everything I do," he said. "It has helped me become the man of integrity I am. I believe in life and I believe in chastity."