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Extra Extra! LIFE ROCKS! According to CSPJ and Bishop Perez

"Life!"...Bishop Perez shouted in the cathedral. "ROCKS!" responded the over 300 students in the congregation. It was front page news in Cleveland.

On Thursday, October 26th, hundreds of students from the 20 Catholic high schools located in the Diocese of Cleveland, gathered together and marched from St. John's Cathedral to Public Square for their annual "Mass and Rally for Life." Accompanying them for the first time was newly installed Bishop Nelson Perez and several other diocesan officials. The theme of the day was honoring life in all of its forms and fighting for the dignity of the human person.

On a bright and sunny day, the students met at St. John's Cathedral for mass with Bishop Perez, who during his homily told them two personal stories about how important the many issues that surround the value of life are.

He also asked them what their goals were and discussed how important it is for us to work towards achieving them. After mass concluded, Mr. Augie Pacetti, campus minister from St. Ignatius high school, Mr. Patrick Gareau, the head of Cleveland Catholic Charities and Dr. Frank O'Linn spoke to the students gathered. Dr. O'Linn stated "CSPJ is not a club, it is a movement! and it is growing thanks to you." After mass, the bishop joined the group in their walk down East 9th Street, West across Lakeside Avenue in front of Cleveland City Hall and the Old Courthouse before turning up Ontario Avenue to Public Square.

Along the way, drum lines from Holy Name high school and Cleveland Central Catholic high school played different cadences to march to and several school groups chanted cheers. Plenty of cars driving by honked their horns and office workers waved at the students as they made their way through downtown Cleveland.

Once all were at Public Square, student speakers talked to the group about the many different aspects of the dignity of life. Topics included bullying, racism, abortion, caring for those with disabilities, refugee experiences, police brutality, unplanned pregnancies, prison and the importance of prayer and using your voice to affect change. More and more students came up to say something so that there was a line at the end of the stage for much of the rally. Students learned valuable lessons as they practiced their rights to speak, peacefully assemble and live their faith in action.

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