In 1993, I attended World Youth Day in Denver as the youth minister from St. John the Baptist, Alden, traveling with the Diocese of Buffalo. We took six youths including my oldest son, Allen. We celebrated two Masses with Pope John Paul II, one at Mile High Stadium, the other overnight at the State Park. Truly amazing. While there, I experienced the Miracle of the Sun twice and many times since then. The whole experience was life altering. The pope's consistent message was to celebrate life - born and unborn.
Returning home remaining in prayer about what does his message mean to us? Where do we go from here? Soon after I received a Holy Spirit dream and a plan began to start a pro-life youth group involving faith, fun and food.
In 1994, St. John's Youth for Life was instituted. Ran by youth as a club with officers, I served as moderator. The group was wholeheartedly supported by our parish, especially our Holy Name Society. There were 30-40 members during most active time.
We were looking for a fundraiser to help us purchase a big screen projector to show pro-life and family movies. We had been borrowing the public schools - a liability - and it would serve the parish. Back then they cost $3,000. Here's how the 200 Club started.
Brainstorming with Allen Jr., my father- in-law mentored my husband, Al, and I how St. Mary Parish in Swormville ran a 200 Club for many years. We were able to modify their format and with our specific pro-life platform, again received tremendous parish support.
In 1996, St. John's 200 Club 4 Life was commissioned by our pastor at the time, Father Fred Ingalls, but also always supportive of youth and pro-life activities that we handled.
With a beautiful Mass and brunch we commissioned 12 collector couples, split up 200 tickets each selling for $50 ( We just upped it last year to $60.) The club was born and the projector purchased. The format has remained basically the same along with our Mission Statement:
"St. John the Baptist 200 Club 4 Life is a parish family community that is committed to nurturing and sustaining God's precious gift of Life. We support our youth and parish pro- life activities. Central to this endeavor is the promotion of the culture of life from conception to natural death."
Moving into our 24th year, Al and I are stepping down as club coordinators and gratefully give the care of the St. John's Youth Fund, sponsored by the St. John's 200 Club, into the very capable hands of Patrick and Marlene Bartram, Marlene Ertel was an original Youth 4 Life member and officer. They're fabulous pro-life parents who step up the teach their children and support our youth. Other collector team members are volunteering their time to pitch in where needed. We have such incredible blessed people in our parish. This particular group of young parents are just amazing. I am blessed to know them. We will continue volunteering as Respect Life leaders always.
St. John's Youth 4 Life/200 Club Youth Fund annual activities include Life Chain, Cemetery of Innocents, Pro-Life Pretzel Project, helping sponsor 30-plus pilgrims to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., National Pro-Life T-shirt Week, and support for youth ministries and the annual diocesan youth convention.
We also support Feet to the Street Rosary Novena, SJS graduates Pro-Life awards, $500. Tuition assistance Friends of St. John's, Baptism Gift Bags, Pro-Life Medium contest recommend this educational experience for all families, NYS Right to Life, Mother's and Father's Day Baby Shower, for St. Gianna Molla Outreach, and the Norm Geiger Memorial Garden.
Our dinner dance has blossomed into a fabulous parish friends social event beyond our wildest dreams. Our first accommodating venue was the Lancaster Knights of Columbus.
Every year at dinner we recognize dynamite pro-life youth and adults. This year we were planning to recognize Cheryl Calire for so many reasons.
This year things have changed beyond belief worldwide. The COVID-19 pandemic has paused so much including banquet halls, therefore in Cheryl's name our club is donating $500 to the Mother Teresa Home and St. Gianna Molla Pregnancy Outreach Center in Buffalo.
We are so grateful for everything Cheryl does for our pro-life community and all those who need help, regardless of race, color or creed, 24/7 along with great assistant Miriam Escalante. You are both so wonderful!
The St. John's 200 Club ticket is a $60 donation. All monies go to St. John's Youth Fund. Tickets include 51 weekly $25 drawings, this year backing up to May 9 until the last Saturday in April 2021. The dinner/dance is scheduled for Saturday, May 1, 2021, at Ripa's. Bigger money drawings at dinner include two $500, two $250, three $100, four $50. Tickets also include one dinner, ticket holders may bring a guest for an additional $30 dinner ticket. All tickets are non-transferable.
This year of the pandemic has really proved our viability. We were very concerned about ticket sales, especially without the dinner. Most encouragingly, the great majority renewed because we believe our parish and friends really understand the significance of being pro-life.