COLUMBIA — Teens from Our Lady of the Hills Church made a dramatic pro-life statement on Oct. 20 using only red tape and silence.
About 18 members of the parish youth group taped their mouths shut for an entire school day and refused to speak in class as a symbol of the millions of voices silenced by abortion.
Young people from Our Lady of the Hills started participating in the protest, the Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity, about four years ago after learning about it
from the Web site www.silentday.org, according to youth group leader Elizabeth Hudacko. The one-day activity is coordinated by Stand True (www.standtrue.com), “a national Christ-centered pro-life movement” especially popular with young people.
“They didn’t talk at all,” Hudacko said. “Even when I said goodbye to my daughter Mary that morning, she couldn’t say good-bye to me.”
Individual students from the United States, Canada, Australia and more than a dozen other nations took part in the protest, according to the SilentDay site. They were asked to name their schools, and the list showed more than 50 public and private schools and colleges from around South Carolina.
Students wore red tape over their mouths or red armbands with the word “LIFE” written on them, and many from Our Lady of the Hills also wore T-shirts with pro-life messages that they created themselves.
Evan Devine, 14, a freshman at Irmo High School, said curious peers immediately approached him when he stepped out of his father’s car that morning with his mouth taped.
“I responded by handing out flyers about what I was doing that day, and soon I had five people recruited who wanted to do it as well,” he said. “Throughout the day people came and asked me for tape and I had about 10 people join me in being silent.”
Julie Devine, Evan’s mother, said her son prepared extensively for the day by printing out dozens of the pamphlets describing the silent protest. Evan, like the other students, notified his teachers in advance that he would participate fully in classes, but would not speak.
“He’s very strong in his faith,” Mrs. Devine said. “I’ve learned so much from Evan about the faith I’ve been raised with my whole life. I can’t tell you how proud I am of him for taking this stand.”
Hudacko said the young people have never had any problem with school administrators trying to stop the protest.
“They get resistance from some of their peers and some of the teachers who don’t agree with their views,” she said. “They get put down by some of their friends, but these kids are willing to take it. It’s courageous.”
Evan said he heard some rude comments and a lot of questions, but didn’t feel threatened during the protest.
Mary Hudacko, 14, a freshman at Dutch Fork High School, said she received some negative reactions from older students and had friends who tried to talk her into taking the tape off her mouth. One of her teachers, however, said she would have liked to join in the protest but could not because of her work.
“I wanted people to know we were going to be silent for just one day for those don’t have a voice, because abortion is wrong,” Mary said.
Both Evan and Mary said they plan to take part in the protest again in 2010. “It was a great way to spread the pro-life word,” Evan said. “It was kind of ironic that not speaking at all was such a good attention getter.”