National Catholic Register

Education

Life Won’t Wait for Graduation

Franciscan U. junior Jason Buck is already a pro-life leader

BY JOSEPH PRONECHEN

April 30-May 6, 2006 Issue | Posted 5/1/06 at 10:00 AM

 

Jason Buck is 21. A junior at Franciscan University of Steub­enville. A double major in marketing and computer information science. And a tireless pro-life worker.

His latest major venture is running a campaign that he initiated through Culture of Life Inc., of which he’s president, to raise $50,000 by May 13, feast of Our Lady of Fatima. The reason? To air crisis-pregnancy and pro-life educational ads aimed at people between the ages of 15 and 24 in July, September and next January. The spots will be shown across the Philadelphia region over MTV, BET and other popular — and “edgy” — stations.

Why put money in the wallets of media outlets of immoral repute?

“To spread this pro-life message you have to look at who the pro-abortion side is targeting,” Jason says. “They’re targeting our youth.

“Our youth today are used to glamorous things,” he continues. “To attract them, you have to be slick. You meet people where they are.”

With Catholics in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia numbering more than 1.4 million and the general area population around 3 million, Jason sees the potential to reach hundreds of thousands of youth with these nationally proven commercials created by VirtueMedia in Atlanta. The $50,000 will pay for the airtime. (VirtueMedia will schedule ads for most effective times.)

Jason got the idea to sponsor the ads in January while praying for direction. The VirtueMedia spots perfectly fit the goals of Culture of Life, Inc., a nonprofit organization he founded while still a high-school senior at Malvern Prep in Malvern, Pa. Its board of advisers includes Father Frank Pavone, Theresa Burke of Rachel’s Vineyard and Janet Morano, co-founder of Silent No More.

Jason lists Culture of Life Inc.’s three goals: “We’re trying to save babies, to heal post-abortive women and to gently but effectively educate our youth on pro-life issues through the media of television.”

Once he shared his vision for the TV ads with the Philly area’s pro-life people and told them he wanted to act as their servant and leverage all their resources to change thousands of hearts at one time, he got nothing but positive responses.

“If we’re going to win this fight and reclaim America as a pro-life culture,” he says, “we need to work together.”

Clued and Connected

Jason’s the spearhead. With a school schedule of all evening classes, his days are packed with e-mails, phone calls and speaking engagements for the project — radio, high schools, colleges, organizations, parishes — all across the Philly region.

“People who know what he’s doing pray for him and for the pro-life ministry,” says Franciscan senior Caryn Hapner, a catechetics and theology major. Once she learned of the ad project, she was struck by more than Jason’s dedication to the work.

“I’ve known him for two years from cross-country and didn’t know all the work he had done,” she says. “He’s very humble about it. He just says he likes being active in pro-life ministry.”

Steubenville freshman Billy Valentine was “floored” when Jason shared his vision and showed sample commercials.

“His approach to the pro-life movement is what we need to reach out to college students,” Valentine says. “His idea is very innovative.

“I see him as a mentor and as a role model,” he adds.

He’s not kidding. Jason’s example inspired Valentine to launch Pennsylvania Students for Life, a network of pro-life clubs for colleges across the state.

High school pro-life clubs are becoming allies, too, like the one at Cardinal Dougherty High School in Philadelphia.

“It’s definitely a unique thing by a 21-year-old only a few years removed from my students,” says teacher and Respect for Life Club moderator Damian Wargo. “Bringing him out to the club would, first, give the students a real role model close in age to them and inspire them to follow in his footsteps in some way.” Second, it would support the cause that has the potential to reach a lot of young people.

Rachel Diver, president of the club, immediately understood this potential.

“Jason’s very connected to the way teenagers think,” she says. Result? The 50 enthused club members will show the sample commercials on DVD to family and friends, plus present them to fellow students on a TV in the school cafeteria.

“Our goal is to raise $1,000, but I think as they see these commercials, we’ll go above that,” Rachel says. “And all of our prayers will be going out for this project. We had a specific meeting for that. Our prayers are always going to be with him.”

Bishop-Approved

These responses encourage Jason, who isn’t new to pro-life leadership. At all-boys’ Malvern Prep he started the pro-life club Men for Life and later pro-life/chastity Teens for Life (teensforlife.us). He’s written a book, Men for Life, and a guidebook for starting a pro-life club in high schools called Teens for Life: the Official Guide to Starting a Pro-life Club (Culture of Life, 2006). He describes it as an A-to-Z manual anyone can use to start a pro-life club in their high school or run their club more effectively.

“What he is doing is wonderful,” affirms Philadelphia Auxiliary Bishop Joseph McFadden, who points out that Jason is recognizing the real need to inform his peers about the dangers in society vis-à-vis abortion and pornography. “He’s embraced the culture of life, to see the truth and not be fooled by society but teach them about the Gospel,” says the bishop.

“He’s a well rounded individual; he has a good balance in his life,” Bishop McFadden adds. “He has a sense of joy about life. The thing nice about Jason is he’s a whole person. He’s focused on living life the way the Lord teaches us, to be fully human and not afraid to be a fully well-developed man.”

Juggling campaign and classes, Jason hopes people around the country will donate to this project.

“John Paul II called our youth to stand up and evangelize,” Jason concludes. “This is how we’re doing it. You can call it the New Evangelization of spreading the Gospel of Life.”

Joseph Pronechen writes from

Trumbull, Connecticut.

Information

Cultureoflife.us

(610) 624-3721

jason@cultureoflife.us