About 225 students walked out of class at 10 a.m. April 11 at Cathedral High School in St. Cloud. For 17 minutes they gathered in front of the main entrance holding signs and spending time in prayer, reading from Scripture, and in silence.
The event, similar to others happening at the same time across the country, was intended to promote all stages of life and was organized by the school’s campus ministry students as well as the Respect Life Club.
“We talked about it in class, they planned everything, they made all the signs,” said Deb Schnettler, campus minister for the school. “It was really nice to see the number of people who came out for this, even though they were cold.”
Cole Danculovich, 17, is a junior at Cathedral.
“Our school made the announcement yesterday that we could do this and so I took the opportunity to stand up for lives that can’t protect themselves,” he said.
Father Ben Kociemba, the school’s chaplain, offered a brief reflection, drawing from a quote by Mother Teresa, “If we want to know how healthy our country is, we have to ask how well we treat the poor and vulnerable.”
“The poor in our country starts with the babies in the womb,” he said, “the poor on the streets, women and children who, even in St. Cloud, are trafficked, those discriminated against for religion, race or gender, our grandmas and grandpas who are perhaps forgotten in the nursing home, maybe the single mother who is trying to make it by, the abused. How we, as a country, treat these people indicates how healthy of a country we are. Today you and I are here because we want to pray for these people and we want to do something about it.”
In addition to the walkout, the students have conducted a fund drive for children’s cancer research and will be doing a baby wipes and diapers drive for Birthline. The Respect Life Club also is gearing up for additional spring activities.
“Today’s event is a kickoff, not the ending, to people being more aware and being politically ready to step forward in their community to do something,” Schnettler said. “We don’t see this as an end, we see it as a beginning.”
Catholic Community Schools superintendent Kevin Powers attended the walkout and said the administration of the school supported the students’ efforts.
“I’m very proud of the students here at Cathedral High School,” Powers said. “The campus ministry team came together and said they wanted to show our community and our nation that we support the ending of violence not only in our community but also in the womb and protecting children, those that have a voice and those that don’t have a voice. It’s a great way for us to show our faith, to not hide the fact that we are a Catholic school and that we support Catholic teachings. It’s a great day for our students and our communities.”