…at the origin of every human being there is not something haphazard or chance, but a loving plan of God.”

Pope Benedict XVI


People outside the pro-life movement often believe that the movement focuses on just one thing: ending abortion. While fighting the terrifying issue of abortion is an important part of being pro-life, the movement espouses a much broader message: to honor the simple beauty and importance of all human life as a gift from God. This message is powerful, but can come across as an unhelpfully broad task.

I wondered: How could I live out the pro-life mission of respecting the gift of all human life?

One Saturday night in November, I took a chance at answering this question.

While my friends were heading out to dinner, picking out outfits in which to dance the night away at Legends or going to cheer on the Notre Dame men’s hockey team in Compton Ice Arena, I found myself driving over to library circle to pick up a group of volunteers to head to Hannah and Friends for my first dance party.

Hannah and Friends is a nonprofit organization that works to improve the quality of life for children and adults with special needs. The organization strives to emphasize the different abilities of each individual instead of focusing on finding a solution for disabilities. Their mission is one founded on enhancing the beautiful life of each person in the community, a mission that seems to align perfectly with the pro-life movement.

We arrived at Hannah and Friends and hesitantly walked through the doors. Our nerves and hesitation did not last long, because the moment we stepped in the doors we were welcomed with open arms. I was bombarded with smiles and hugs from members who wanted to get to know me right away. The simple joy of living without worry was palpable. As the night went on, we shared laughter, dance moves, stories, pizza and plenty of hugs. It became the most wonderful example of how to “do small things with great love,” as Mother Theresa once said.

The people at Hannah and Friends were an incredible example to me of how to live life to the fullest. One young girl in particular, Elise, became my buddy as we made up a secret handshake, took plenty of “selfies” and even created a dance move. At one point in the night she turned to me and in the most sincere way asked if I would be her friend.

My heart melted as I happily accepted. Elise and the other members of Hannah and Friends powerfully showed how to appreciate and love every person for who he or she is. They expressed a simple love without even giving a second thought to whether we were “cool enough” or important enough to pay attention to. They demonstrated a respect for every human life as a unique gift from God by openly accepting each of us with Christ’s love.

I went to Hannah and Friends to give my time, but I left having gained an immense amount from the experience. I found the answer to my question about how to live out the pro-life mission of respecting the gift of all human life. The simple answer is to love all of humanity with an open heart, as Christ would. Hannah and Friends encapsulates the core mission of the pro-life movement, demonstrating the importance of all human life as equally beautiful creations no matter how big or small or ‘differently abled.’ All life deserves to be celebrated as a unique piece of God’s plan.

Annie Bodien is a junior psychology/pre-health major who will more than likely be a Disney Princess one day. She is currently studying abroad in Roma, Italia touring European castles. Feel free to contact her with worldly questions and concerns (or if you want an autograph) at abodien@nd.edu.