By Celine Klosterman
IOWA CITY — As English teacher Scott Shields prepared to pray outside Emma Goldman Clinic on a chilly, early Saturday morning, he hoped 10 or 15 of the 235 students he and another teacher had invited would show up.
Instead, more than 40 people, mostly students and staff at Regina High School, gathered in front of the clinic from 8-9 a.m. Oct. 26.
“I can’t say I was really surprised,” Shields said. “That’s just who they are.”
The clinic, which provides abortions, was the site of prayer vigils during the 40 Days for Life campaign that ended Nov. 3. After Shields signed up for an hour-long vigil, he approached fellow English teacher Clark McFerren with an idea.
“I thought it’d be great if we promoted this in our classes to see if we could get kids to come,” Shields said. All Regina High School students have class with one of the two teachers each day, he said.
During Right to Life Month in October, Shields had passed around fetal models and discussed abortion in class. “I tell my kids this is why I teach at Regina — because I can do this here.”
Senior Eric McFerren said he took part in the prayer session at the suggestion of his dad, the 11th- and 12th-grade English teacher. “Frankly, I was a little embarrassed at first, but then I saw how many people started showing up,” the student said. “…I felt something was definitely happening, and I’m glad I ‘had’ to go.”
As vigil participants recited the rosary, sang “Amazing Grace” and offered silent prayers, a few passersby jeered. “I expected worse heckling, but we even got shouts and honks of support,” Eric McFerren said.
“I told the kids we weren’t there to confront anyone, just pray and give witness,” Shields said.
“It felt very good to go there and save lives and see how many people cared enough to show up,” senior David McCaffrey said. Doing so shows that youths care about the unborn, and might make people considering an abortion think twice, he added.
“It is so heartening to know our young people have the courage to boldly proclaim their beliefs, pray and sacrifice on behalf of others,” said Sheryl Schwager, executive director of Johnson County Right to Life. “Please continue to pray for all young people that they may know the love of Jesus Christ and have the courage to embrace and respect all life.”
By Celine Klosterman