Loyola Marymount Student Restarts Pro-Life Group After Planned Parenthood Fundraiser
A Rosary rally to pray for human dignity and the right to life also gathered faculty, Jesuit priests and students.
When Loyola Marymount University (LMU) student Megan Glaudini heard that her Catholic, Jesuit university was not stopping an on-campus fundraiser for Planned Parenthood, she felt “convicted” that she needed to do something.
“Upon hearing about the Planned Parenthood fundraiser on campus, originally, I was just completely disgusted and embarrassed and disappointed that the university would allow this to happen,” she told CNA in a phone call Nov. 6.
“I took a while to kind of discern what I really wanted to do, what kind of action would even make a difference, and I really felt convicted and like I needed to do something,” she said.
That “something” turned out to be resurrecting the longtime, inactive pro-life group and planning a Rosary rally before the Planned Parenthood fundraiser.
After meeting with an official in the university and many meetings, phone calls and emails with students, Glaudini decided “two days before the event” to resurrect the campus ministry’s VITA program.
VITA, a Latin word meaning “life,” is the respect-life student group at LMU.
Leading VITA along with her friend Andrew DiCrisi, Glaudini planned a Rosary on the corner of Lincoln and LMU Drive on campus.
Glaudini, a junior theology major at LMU, told CNA the purpose of the Rosary was to “emphasize the spreading of love.” Some groups on campus were making things political, she said, but her intent was to stand up for “human dignity and the right to life.”
“I just feel like it‘s my job here on this earth and especially on this campus to uphold the dignity and the values of my faith,” she said. “And that’s exactly what I thought I would be doing if we created this group and we’re able to pray this Rosary together.”
The student group Women in Politics hosted the Planned Parenthood fundraiser Nov. 5 in Roski Dining Hall. The club described the event on an online university calendar as “an opportunity for us to raise money for a cause we really care about and have fun at the same time!”
In a Nov. 3 statement, the university told CNA that it is neither sponsoring nor endorsing the event.
Glaudini’s Rosary rally gathered more than 20 people, including faculty, Jesuit priests on campus and students.
She told CNA that “everyone was just very grateful that we had put this on because, here on campus, it feels like the Catholic population is just diminishing and with that goes our values and our dignity.”
“The professors and some of the professional staff really told me how refreshed they felt after what we have created because they felt like Catholic students wouldn’t care on campus that this Planned Parenthood fundraiser was happening, but we proved them wrong,” she said.
Glaudini said that the students who took part in the Rosary rally were “so thankful” that they found other people on campus with like-minded values.
After the on-campus fundraiser was originally announced, it triggered a petition drive by an organization called RenewLMU that called on the president of the the university, Timothy Law Snyder, to cancel the event, which he did not. The group describes itself as “an alliance of students, alumni, faculty, donors, and other LMU supporters who seek to strengthen LMU’s Catholic mission and identity.”
Loyola Marymount graduate Samantha Stephenson, who led the petition drive for RenewLMU, told CNA: “A Catholic university should honor and defend the principles of Catholic social teaching, at the heart of which is the principle of human dignity.”
The petition garnered approximately 1,800 people signatures as of Thursday afternoon.
The Catholic school’s fundraising event received a lot of media attention, to which the school responded on Friday before the event took place:
“The event being held this evening by Women in Politics, an independent student organization, is neither sponsored nor endorsed by LMU. The university does not support, nor does it fundraise, for Planned Parenthood. LMU regrets the concerns this situation has caused our community members and Catholic partners. The university remains firmly committed to its Catholic, Jesuit, and Marymount values. Moving forward, LMU is reexamining and revising its policies and practices regarding student-organized activities to ensure stronger alignment with our mission.”
In a statement published in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles newspaper, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles responded to the event before it took place.
“I am deeply disappointed that this abortion fundraising event is going forward as scheduled, although I acknowledge the university’s statement that it does not support Planned Parenthood and its pledge to review its procedures for future events."
“As I expressed in my conversations with Loyola Marymount officials, respect for the sanctity and dignity of all human life is central to Catholic identity and must be a core commitment in Catholic higher education. I am hopeful that the conversation we have begun will continue,” the archbishop continued.
In addition to attending the Los Angeles March for Life Jan. 22, Glaudini told CNA that she is making plans for the VITA club to be more active on campus and is interested in hosting more Rosaries in the future.
Gualdini said she hopes to get a meeting with the President Snyder because she feels like “we’re due for a conversation.”
She added of the pro-life efforts, “But we have been thinking about throwing our own fundraiser for emergency pregnancy centers and also adoption centers, so that‘s something that we’ve been talking about.”