Forty St. Joseph School students united with Bishop Richard F. Stika for a rosary Feb. 25 at the Planned Parenthood clinic in East Knoxville during the diocese’s 40 Days for Life observance.
The bishop was joined by diocesan chancellor Deacon Sean Smith; Paul Simoneau, director of the Office of Justice and Peace; Sister Mary Marta, superintendent of Catholic Schools; and St. Joseph principal Andy Zengel. All braved temperatures in the 30s accompanied by a stiff wind.
Twenty-two parishes and Catholic organizations are taking part in the 40 Days for Life, including the St. Mary’s Legacy Clinic, St. Joseph School, and Knoxville Catholic High School.
The bishop told the St. Joseph students that they were not there at the clinic on recess.
“Instead of playing, they’re praying,” he said, “and prayer is one of the most important tools that the Lord gives to us.”
Eighth-grader Annalise Weedman was among the sixth- through eighth-graders attending the rosary from St. Joseph. She led one of the five luminous mysteries at the event.
“It meant a lot,” she said. “It’s really difficult to watch babies not be able to experience the joys of life. It’s important to me to help, to do my best to try to stop this cause.”
Mr. Zengel held the microphone for each of the students leading a decade of the rosary.
“Our eighth-graders are studying Church history and early Church martyrdom especially, and we use the word ‘witness’ a lot,” Mr. Zengel said, “and so for these students to be making a public witness and standing up for the dignity and the sanctity of human life, which is really the foundation of all morality in our nation—i t means a lot for us to have this opportunity to be with Bishop Stika and our leaders in the diocese to make this public witness.”