Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life
Over a million children per grade level throughout the nation would have been with us had they not been killed by abortion. Priests for Life asks, therefore, that each graduation ceremony and liturgy include a remembrance of those who would have been graduating had they not been aborted. This could in some way, make reparation for the scandal of Catholic institutions, such as Notre Dame, inviting and honoring pro-abortion public figures.
Remembrance of the missing children can take the form of a moment of silence, a lit candle, an empty chair, a cap and diploma resting by themselves, or a brief prayer. Symbolic actions can be accompanied by words like these:
“On this day of joy, we give thanks to God for our accomplishments. At the same time, we cannot ignore those whose lives have been lost, and who otherwise would have been with us to share the joys of this day.
With charity toward all and condemnation toward none, we, the Class of 2009, wish to honor and remember those who have lost their lives because they were aborted. (We pause now for a moment of silence… Or We now light this candle in their memory… Or We set aside these empty chairs in their memory.)
As we move into a new chapter of our lives, we commit ourselves to building a Culture of Life, in which parents never have to feel that the only way to solve their problems is to abort their child, and in which the precious dignity of every human life, especially the most defenseless, is cherished and protected. We invite you all to join us in striving for this goal.”
Suppose that a tragedy took the lives of some of the graduating class just days or weeks before graduation. Would there not be a mention or a tribute at the ceremony? Why, then, should the victims who died longer ago be forgotten? It is not, after all, the timing of the death that matters, but the value of the life.
It’s graduation time again. I’ll be praying for all graduates at all different grade levels. It is my fervent hope that students everywhere will take the initiative to remember aborted classmates.
Some, of course, will object to inserting such a “negative” theme into a happy day. But are significant moments in our lives supposed to be insulated from all awareness of injustice? Are we to rejoice with those who rejoice, but not weep with those who weep?
To be willing to face sadness when the victims were born, but unwilling to do so when the victims died before birth, is another sign of the deep-rooted prejudice against the unborn in our society. But a new generation of young people who have survived that prejudice are now taking their places and preparing to be the future leaders. That gives us hope. Isn’t that what Graduation Day is all about?
Please, do something. How can we explain it if we forget or ignore these children?