In June 2010, a group of 12 high school teens and 4 chaperones from the military community of Stuttgart, Germany made a service pilgrimage to Lourdes, France. Working with the North American Lourdes Volunteers, they were able to serve a group of special needs pilgrims from the United States. They cleaned their rooms, fed them meals, and pushed their wheelchairs. They prayed together and formed friendships. For many, it was a transformation of love under the heart of our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Lourdes.
On the return trip to Germany, the teens talked about what they wanted to bring back to their community. One of the ideas was a High School Catholic Youth Group. It was from this experience that Stuttgart Life Teen was born.
As the teens formed their group they felt it was important to have an active service element. A smaller “service team” of Life Teen formed and met regularly to plan service opportunities. Early on in a brainstorming session, a large goal emerged: sponsor a community “Walk for Life” similar to the March for Life in DC and the Walk for Life West Coast.
The Stuttgart military community is made up of small military installations located across various parts of the greater Stuttgart City area. There is an old 5-mile tank trail that connects Patch Barracks to Panzer Kaserne. The teens decided to use this trail to stage their walk. Their goal was not to raise money for a pro-life cause, but to raise awareness.
A pro-life T-shirt was designed by a teen; flyers and pro-life handouts were made. In addition, a “Day of Silence for the Silenced” was planned at the local high school to draw attention to the event and the cause. The teens put on blue wristbands with the word “Life” written on it to designate their participation in the Day of Silence. That “Our Lady of Lourdes” also wears a blue band is surely not a coincidence!
Approximately 200 people braved the cold January Day in Germany to walk the 5-mile tank trail in solidarity and prayer. Some sang songs, some prayed the rosary together, and others just shared in conversation and fellowship. Flower petals were given to the children to drop along the way.
With cooperation from the Knights of Columbus and the Military Council of Catholic Women (MCCW), a prolife celebration took place at the end of the walk. The Knights cooked up bratwurst and the MCCW provided baked goods to nourish the hungry walkers. Teens provided face painting for the children. In culmination, teens addressed the group, thanked the participants and lead everyone in prayer.
This past January 23, 2012 marked the second anniversary of the now annual Walk for Life Stuttgart. It has become a passionate project for Stuttgart Life Teen. New T-shirts were designed for this year’s walk by one of the teens. Educational display boards were made to inform the community about abortion and human development. A life-like fetal model was donated to bear witness to the fact that life exists in the womb.
As our Lord Jesus began his human life in the womb of the Immaculate Conception, so too, Stuttgart Life Teen began its life under her heart. May we all continue to share the message of love and life with the world!