This post is the work of students at the 2011 Live Action Leadership Summit currently taking place. The students have formed teams for their time at the Summit and each chose heroes as their team name. The teams are competing with one another, and their first assignment was to write about a hero in history who upheld the value of the human person, and discuss how this hero informs and inspires them to be pro-life advocates today. We now encourage you to give your feedback and encouragement to these amazing youth age 14-19 in the feedback section below.
“Oh, my poor wife, my poor children! I shall never see them again!” Franciszek Gajowniczek’s desperate cry rang out in the Auschwitz concentration camp. He, among nine other innocent victims, had been selected to be sent to an underground starvation cell as punishment for the escape of three prisoners in the summer of 1941.
To discourage further escapes, the entire camp was told to line up, and ten, including Franciszek, were arbitrarily chosen to die by starvation. Also in the long line of prisoners was Saint Maximilian Kolbe, a faithful priest who had been arrested for hiding Jews in his friary in Poland. After hearing Gajowniczek’s outburst, Father Kolbe calmly stepped forward and offered to die instead of Franciszek. Kolbe was led to the starvation cell where he sang praises to God and gave Mass to his fellow victims until he was the last survivor.
In order to clean out the starvation cell, the soldiers injected him with carbonic acid, burning him from the inside out. As he breathed his last, Saint Maximillian held a peaceful and graceful countenance. He treated his persecutors kindly, and never regretted his decision. “Every man has an aim in life. For most men it is to return home to their wives and families, or to their mothers. For my part, I give my life for the good of all men.”
Saint Kolbe lived this statement out by giving his life for his fellow man. He could not save the whole camp, but given the opportunity to save one life, he willingly accepted it. In the same way, we may not have the power to end abortion on our own, but we live in an age where information is readily available: ignorance is not an excuse and apathy is not an option. We can either give up and say the problem is too large, or we can take a stand in our own peaceful way.
We are not restricted by oppressive government as Saint Kolbe was. Instead, we have the advantage of tools to reach thousands of people with the click of a mouse. We have a voice and it is our obligation to make it heard. A simple Facebook status has the ability to spark conversation, and a picture can change hearts. Precious lives are depending on us. We are the ambassadors for the unborn and their only voice. If we keep silent who will defend them?
In 1972, Gojowniczek, along with a hundred and fifty thousand others, made a trip to commemorate the sacrifice of Father Kolbe. Time Magazine reported that Gojowniczek was the first to speak. In humble gratitude he spoke aloud the words every unborn child should eventually be able to say: “I want to express my thanks, for the gift of life.”