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St. Barnabas Life Teen groups attend national March for Life

Posted: February 19, 2018

by Laura Straub

Each year, St. Barnabas Life Teen, the high school youth ministry for St. Barnabas Church, joins the First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association on a trip to the March for Life in Washington, D.C.

“They provide two buses for the march and invite different parish youth ministries, Catholic high schools and colleges to join them at no charge,” said Francine Costantini of Sagamore Hills, coordinator of youth ministry for St. Barnabas Life Teen.

She said the group has joined the association on this trip at least four times, plus had two planned trips canceled due to blizzards.

Twelve students from Sagamore Hills, Northfield Center, Macedonia, Brecksville and Shaker Heights made the whirlwind trip for this year’s march on Jan. 19.

“It is a quick trip – we left at 11:30 p.m. on Thursday and were back at midnight on Friday,” Costantini said.

Although the trip is short, she said the event has a joyful atmosphere packed with activities, including the Youth Rally and Mass for Life at Capitol One Arena, for which the group secured free tickets.

“We fill the arena and there are speakers and an amazing Mass with hundreds of seminarians, priests, bishops, Cardinal [Donald] Wuerl [Archbishop of Washington] and the Papal Nuncio, an ambassador from the Vatican,” she said. “The Papal Nuncio read a letter from Pope Francis to all us marchers, encouraging us to continue to speak for the dignity of all human life, from conception to natural death.”

Megan Garvey, a Nordonia High School student from Northfield Center, said the moment of silence during the Mass was the part of the trip that stood out most to her. She said it was crazy to be in a stadium with hundreds of teenagers so silent and at peace that you could hear a pin drop.

After the Mass, the group got lunch and joined the hundreds of thousands of people on the National Mall.

“By the time we got to the National Mall, the main rally was well under way and we didn’t even attempt to go to the area to see or hear the speakers, but waited for the march to begin and joined in,” Costantini said. “We marched up Constitution Avenue to the front of the Supreme Court building. We stopped there and joined in a circle to pray for the protection of the unborn.”

Izzy Kuches, a freshman at Trinity High School from Northfield Center, called the experience “breathtaking  and life-changing.”

“Being able to witness hundreds of thousands of people gathered around D.C. to support the unborn was inspiring,” she said.

According to Costantini, the crowd included mostly high school and college students, but there were also families with young children in wagons, strollers and baby slings.

“We meet people from all across the country and share stories,” she said. “We sing and pray together with strangers, and a sense of hope and joy surrounds the day.”

The sense of community stood out to Garvey as well.

“The March for Life was an amazing experience,” she said. “I enjoyed every second of it and it was really amazing to see the community that gathered together to stand up for something we care so passionately for.”

Kuches said the march itself had the biggest impact on her.

“This experience has helped me to embrace and love all the lives I’m surrounded by, including my own,” she said. “The March for Life has taught me that all lives, no matter how small, should be able to experience the beauty and goodness of the gift of life.”

Costantini and her Life Teen group attend a few other national events throughout the year, with the second biggest being the National Catholic Youth Conference. The conference, which has been held in Indianapolis for the past eight years, draws 23,000 teens from across the country and will take place again in 2019.

For more information about St. Barnabas Life Teen, visit

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