On January 21, 2023, Outreach Coordinator, Kathryn Hallinan, gave a powerful speech to young people at Ave Maria’s second annual March for Life. Below is a full transcript of her speech.
Pam Stenzel: I’m so excited to introduce you to Kathryn who’s going to share words with you. Kathryn Hallinan is the Outreach Coordinator at Community Pregnancy Clinics. After graduating from West Chester University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Media and Culture Communication, Kathryn served as a missionary with the Culture Project in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. During her mission year, she was formed in Saint Pope John Paul II’s teaching of the Theology of the Body and gave presentations to middle and high school students on human dignity, sexual integrity, and social media. Following her mission year, Kathryn began working for CPCI as their Outreach Coordinator. She connects churches, schools, and organizations to the life-saving mission of CPCI and continues giving her sexual integrity talk to young audiences to address the root cause of abortion. Having been deeply affected by the message of sexual integrity herself, she hopes to share this life-affirming message with as many young people as possible. So help me in welcoming to the stage Kathryn Hallinan.
Kathryn Hallinan: Hello, everyone. What an incredible day celebrating life. It is truly an honor to be speaking to you alongside Bishop Dewane and President Middendorf. As a young person dedicated to the pro life movement, I want to speak to directly to all of the young people gathered here today. In the words of Saint Pope John Paul II, “young people, do not be afraid to be holy. Fly high. Be among those whose goals are worthy of sons and daughters of God. Glorify God with your lives.” This beautiful, powerful calling from Saint Pope John Paul II is given to each of us here today. Fly high. Be with good people and glorify God. St Pope John Paul II understood young people so well. That we have been made for greatness, made for good relationships, made for a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is because of this great call that I am a part of the pro-life movement today.
Fly high. I come from a large Irish Catholic family and had an extremely blessed upbringing. But when I went off to college, I quickly got sucked into the ways and lies of the culture. I did not have a full understanding of my dignity as a daughter of God, so I was unable to live a life of chastity, truly loving and respecting others and expecting to be loved and respected in return.
I felt lonely, empty, and lost. In our country, between 60 and 80% of college students engage in the hookup culture. 78% of people think that living together before marriage is acceptable and 50% of all marriages end in divorce. We live in a world that is promoting promiscuity, normalizing sex before marriage, encouraging contraception, pushing pornography, and praising abortion. We have been created for so much more. The culture has set the bar so extremely low for us young people and we should be offended. While I wanted to fly high, I was choosing to give into the lies of the world. One night in college, I was out at a bar on the dance floor, crammed between so many people, strobe lights flashing, drinks being spilled. I remember taking a step back and scanning my surroundings and thinking to myself, “No one here actually cares about me.” And I left. Walking home, I knew I needed to start looking to Christ, not the culture and live differently. Since committing to a life of chastity and striving for virtue just a few years ago, I’ve realized that the church believes us young people are capable of living heroic lives. She sets the bar extremely high for us young people, and we should be honored. And not only does she set the bar high, but she also provides us with a roadmap on how we can reach that bar and be the best versions of ourselves, believing in our and others inherent dignity as male or female, from conception to natural death, and respecting God’s stunning design for love and sexuality through living a life of chastity.
Be among those whose goals are worthy of sons and daughters of God. To live differently from most people, we must be aware of who we are surrounding ourselves with. Who you spend time with matters. How you spend your time matters. My time as a missionary with the Culture Project showed me the need for good friendships and community, especially amongst young people. Whether it was within my own team of missionaries or in a classroom encountering students, my mission year revealed to me just how much each of us deeply desires to be seen, known, and loved. Each of us is unique, made in the image and likeness of God. We are deserving of so much love and respect. We have a God given purpose. Do you believe that? Do you believe that you are unique, that you are made in the image and likeness of God? That you have a purpose? When we believe this about ourselves, everything falls into place. And who we surround ourselves with is going to affect how we view ourselves and how we view the world around us. I know from experience that finding friends who are also striving to be holy can be difficult. But do not let that stop you from flying high. Virtue, doing what is right is attractive, and I promise the Lord will reward your efforts.
Glorify God. After my year with the Culture Project, I knew I wanted to continue working in the pro-life movement and sharing the messages of human dignity and sexual integrity with young people. I am blessed to be a part of a life-saving mission which glorifies God at Community Pregnancy Clinics. CPCI is the largest system of pregnancy centers in Florida and one of the largest in the entire country. Our mission is to save lives from the tragedy of abortion. We are meeting women oftentimes in crisis situations with care, compassion and choices every single day. Just months after the Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe vs. Wade in 1973, our first clinic opened in downtown Naples. Since then, we have saved over 20,000 babies from abortion, expanded to five office clinics and to mobile medical clinics, and have witnessed the overturning of Roe vs. Wade.
While lies about the pro-life movement and pregnancy centers dominate the media, we continue to support women and highlight the truth about their pregnancy options with medically accurate information. By listening to women, connecting them with resources and showing them that they are lovable, we do everything we can to help them choose life. Our clinics are not just pro-life. We are pro-life, pro-abundant life, and pro-eternal life.
Like, Christ, we cannot and do not wait for women to come to us. We reach out to them, lift them up, and give them hope. While we will continue to meet and serve women in crisis situations, we are also encountering women before they are in crisis: in an unplanned pregnancy, suffering with an STI, or in an unhealthy relationship. We are getting to the root cause of abortion through our S.H.A.R.E. Program, Sexual Health and Relationship Education. We are going into youth group and classroom settings, sharing with middle and high school students the benefits of saving sex until marriage.
Since starting at CPCI in July, I have spoken to students at St. John Neumann Catholic High School and St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School, as well as the young adult group at St. Peter the Apostle in Naples. After giving my sexual integrity talk to the sophomore girls at St John Neumann, one of the girls wrote to me saying, “Before I looked at chastity as a set of rules, but the way you explained it changed my views.” Another student wrote, “Please keep doing this for high school girls, listening to someone else’s personal experience was great. I hope you keep helping other young girls like you helped my class.” This spring, I will also be speaking to the confirmation class at St. John the Evangelist, as well as the youth group at San Marcos on Marco Island. And I am just getting started.
Every young person deserves to hear the truth about chastity, and I want to spread this message with as many young people as possible. Our generation is desperately desiring more than what the culture offers us. And it is through flying high, surrounding ourselves with good people and glorifying God that we will achieve the greatness each of us has been created for. When we understand our identity and God’s plan for sexuality, abortion will be eradicated. Thank you.