Jeremy Hylka, a Theology teacher and Respect Life moderator at Joliet High School, has made it his life’s work to help teens respect, appreciate, and love life. In fact, this past year marked his thirteenth year directing and moderating a group of teens on the March for Life.
But Hylka’s great passion for defending life was not always a given. As a teenager he would constantly ask himself, “What am I? Am I pro-life or pro-choice?” On his first March for Life in Washington D.C., however, he landed solidly in the pro-life camp..
He explained that, “Doing something so powerful as being a voice for the voiceless had an impact.” He said that it not only had an impact on his mind, but also the way he lived his life. After that first year attending the March for Life, Hylka vowed that he would be there every year until Roe v. Wade is overturned.
When Hylka started taking groups on the March for Life thirteen years ago, there were maybe five or six teenagers on the trip. Now, he is taking groups of fifty to sixty each year! “This country, this land, really, truly is pro-life,” Hylka declared.
When asked what kind of communication works best with the teenagers he works with, Hylka explained that the media is a powerful way of reaching teenagers. The movie Unplanned, the story of Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson’s conversion from pro-abortion to pro-life, is a movie Hylka found especially impactful, and he made sure to share it with the teens he is guiding. He explained, “I don’t know how anyone–whatever spectrum you are–could watch that movie and not understand the gravity and evil of abortion.”
Hylka said that even in the Catholic school he attended, the pro-life movement was often either shoved aside or talked about with a bit of distain. However as the years went on, and he inspired and encouraged more and more kids, people slowly opened up and embraced the truth of the pro-life movement.
“We are doing a disservice to our youth by not talking about these issues… instilling that within them and showing it in a loving and compassionate way.” Not everyone will encourage and support Hylka in what he is doing, but the fact that he is changing so many teenagers’ lives keeps him going.
To hear more of Jeremy Hylka’s story, check out his entire Life Chat interview here!