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Student pens 'powerful testimony' about value of life

Nativity's Christian Vitagliano is winner of this year's Respect Life essay contest

MIAMI | A young man saved from abortion who now feels “obligated to express and speak publicly about the prolife movement” is the winner of the 2012-2013 essay contest organized by the archdiocesan Respect Life Office.

The powerful, personal testimony was written by Christian Vitagliano, an eighth-grader at Nativity School in Hollywood. Second place winner Daniela Diaz, a seventh grader at Blessed Trinity School in Miami Springs, wrote about her “Grandmother’s Gift,” having chosen to save her baby’s life rather than abort after being diagnosed with a recurrence of ovarian cancer. Melissa Navarro, an eighth-grader at St. John Neumann School in Miami, won honorable mention for her essay, “A Child Is a Gift from God.”

“The essays are all so impressive that it is truly a difficult task to select the finalists,” said Joan Crown, director of respect life. “It becomes more evident each year that the teachers spend a great deal of time helping students understand the sacredness of human life from the very moment of conception until natural death, as well as the importance of living a chaste lifestyle.”

The contest is held every October — Respect Life Month — and open to students in grades six through eight at archdiocesan schools. They can select from any of the life issues, from abortion to euthanasia, as well as the topic of chastity. 

The winners were notified in December through their school principals, since the contest is part of the religion curriculum in many archdiocesan schools. All the essays are published here.

Christian Vitagliano

Photographer: COURTESY PHOTO

Christian Vitagliano

Speaking God’s Choice through Our Voice
Christian Vitagliano
Grade 8, Nativity School
A mother of three children is a strong prolife believer. She raves about her belief and is very passionate about sharing it with her children. It all came down on everything she believed in, after discovering her teenage daughter was pregnant. Both mother and daughter were frightened but through deep prayer and scripture her daughter decided to follow through with the birth and the mother to support her. It wasn’t easy for the young girl. Her friends turned their back, ridiculed and pushed her toward getting an abortion.

The fact of the matter that she soon realized was that it wasn’t her choice to make, but a choice already made by God, because in his eyes all life is sacred. Months went by until finally, on August 13, I was born. My mother and grandmother never regretted this decision. My mother’s decision to say yes to life made me feel obligated to express and speak publicly about the prolife movement. Through and because of this, I have become a public speaker for Life Line Family Ministries, 40 Days for Life, A Life in Christ and many more to come.

Through 40 Days for Life I have learned how many women and babies suffer from abortions. This bombards me with the thought of how blessed I am, by the grace of God, that I was even born and am writing this essay today. My birth was a miracle by God working through people. This is why I consider myself a miracle baby. Open your ears but listen with your heart. God is calling you to be a voice for life. My voice is heard because someone spoke for me when I couldn’t and I’m very glad to share this powerful testimony with you.

Maggie Grana Diaz with her son, Jose Manuel, shortly before her death. Her decision was the subject of her granddaughter, and Jose Manuel's daughter, Daniela Diaz's second place essay in this year's Respect Life contest.

Photographer: COURTESY PHOTO

Maggie Grana Diaz with her son, Jose Manuel, shortly before her death. Her decision was the subject of her granddaughter, and Jose Manuel's daughter, Daniela Diaz's second place essay in this year's Respect Life contest.

Daniela Diaz

Photographer: COURTESY PHOTO

Daniela Diaz

A Grandmother’s Gift
Daniela Diaz
Grade 7, Blessed Trinity School
In 1964, when my father was born, my grandmother, Maggie, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Fortunately, the doctors caught the disease early. They removed parts of her ovaries. She was finally released but the doctors told her she would be unable to have more children. Deeply saddened by this, she asked if she could try to still have another child.

Eight years later, she was able to become pregnant again. Unfortunately, the cancer returned. The doctor gave her the choice between saving her own life or going through with the pregnancy. She chose to save her baby’s life. She went nine months without medicine to treat her illness. Later that year, she gave birth to her son and my uncle, Danny. After she gave birth, the doctors started her medication, but it was too late.

My grandmother died five months later. I am sad that I was never able to meet her, but I am so moved by the sacrifice she made. If she would have chosen to abort her children then I would not have the family that I have today. She will forever be a part of my family and I know she will always be watching over me. I am very thankful for the gift she gave my family.

Melissa Navarro

Photographer: COURTESY PHOTO

Melissa Navarro

A Child Is a Gift from God
Melissa Navarro
Grade 8, St. John Neumann School

“Your children are the greatest gift God will give you, and their souls the heaviest responsibility he will place in your hands. Take time with them, teach them to have faith in God.”  This quote by Lisa Wingate reminds one that every child is a blessing from God. No matter how small a child is, God will always love each and every child. It is truly a miracle how children are conceived, for without God there would be no children. However, having children is a big responsibility, and parents must teach their child to follow the footsteps of God. Each child is a blessing from God to loving parents, who want to show their love and faith to a blessing that they can call their daughter or son. Every child is a precious privilege to parents who should welcome their child into their homes and hearts.

Furthermore, every child, no matter how tiny in the womb, must be welcomed into the world, for each child is a gift of love from God. Therefore, abortion is never the answer, for abortion kills. A child is a child, no matter now miniature, but one must respect human life. Moreover, the Respect Life ministry is a phenomenal ministry that has many projects. For instance, the Gabriel Project is a program that supports or helps women who are facing harsh pregnancies. Not only is the Respect Life ministry an act of kindness, but an act of love, that truly is a model of how one should respect human life. The Respect Life Ministry is truly an inspiration and portrays how to live a life full of faith in God. As one can see, every single child, small or different, is a blessing from God that should be loved and welcomed into the parents’ hearts.

Comments from readers

Yrela Trueba - 01/18/2013 12:49 PM
Daniela, I was a friend of your grandmother Maggie, I wanted to share with you that I loved and love her still a lot . I have prayed and still pray for my friend Maggie and all her family. All your family is very special in my heart. Your grandmother was a very sweet and special person . Praying for all of the Grana and Diaz family, I love you all in Christ Jesus, Yrela trueba
Andrew Meszaros - 01/18/2013 10:09 AM
How very inspiring to see young people speaking with such mature clarity of insight. No doubt, to be pro-life and to be chaste, goes hand in hand. It gives me hope for the future to see the joy of innocence in their faces. Each one of them is a winner!

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