Students For Life of America Leadership Summit Draws High School and College Students

Villanova University is where one of the oldest pro-life college groups that ever started at the beginning of the movement. On Saturday, February 16th, the campus would host 50 students that represented various high school and colleges in the Philadelphia area.

The day began with a welcome from Liana Hollendonner, the Students for Life of America regional coordinator for the states of Pennsylvania and Delaware.

She opens with a reminder to those in attendance to remember to be bold and courageous on their campuses.  Reflecting on Martin Luther King’ legacy, pro-lifers are called to share the message of abortion with controversy and be bold in their convictions.

“The best approach when dialoguing with others is to find common ground and share stories.”


A student panel followed the opening address, which included Dominic Sceski (Villanova), Karly Brown and Sean Harney (Temple), and Mike Prieto, (Bishop Shanahan High School).

Temple students Karly Brown and Sean Harney shared how they countered Planned Parenthood workers who showed up on campus by drawing confusion with the signature pink colors of the organization and handing out information dispelling the common myths of the organization.

Mike Prieto of Bishop Shanahan High School, which won the national award from Students for Life of America (see article here: Bishop Shanahan Wins National Award) He acknowledges how Planned Parenthood never shows up to school giving its Catholic setting. It pays off. Every 1st Saturday the group participates in the vigil outside of the Planned Parenthood in West Chester and they notice how not many of their peers enter the facility while they are praying.

Dominic Sceski is a part of a family dynasty with his older brothers (Blaise and Colin) who were active in the pro-life group at Villanova. He reminds those gathered to communicate truth better and not get too confrontational.

There was even time for breakout sessions. The speakers included Dr. Monique Ruberu, Dan Bartkowiak, Brooke McDowell, and Sarah Portis.


Dan Bartkowiak from the Pennsylvania Family Institute and Council shared about the progress being made in promoting the culture of life in the state. Reflecting on the episode of Gosnell, he reminded those gathered that we must keep holding state officials accountable.  Since 1973, 2 million babies will be aborted in the state. Much work has to be done. Even the state passed a law to protect children with down syndrome. It is yet to be signed by pro-abort Governor Tom Wolf.


Dr. Monique Ruberu took time to address the importance of being the hands and feet of God when outside of abortion facilities in our community. She shared a story of how a woman saw a sign promoting the abortion pill reversal hotline and it would soon help her choose life for a precious girl she gave birth to around the Christmas season. Despite the poverty she was in, Monique and several women got together and threw her a baby shower. She was showered with love.


The final speaker was a colleague and friend of Liana named Stephanie Schmitt. Like Liana, she works for Students for Life as the regional coordinator of the capital area, which includes Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. Schmitt took time to encourage the students to be more involved and ready to respond if Planned Parenthood and other abortion-rights groups enter their campus with a rapid response. Some helpful tips were: record any acts of vandalism, writing letters to the editor, hosting drives for diaper collections, and tabling to recruit more members. She used examples of how students countered sex week on one campus by reminding them of pregnancy resources and the hotline if women become victims of sexual assaults.

The students were energized and ready to take on the abortion lobby should they set foot on their campus.

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Pro-Lifers Learn the Art Behind Persuasion

“Why did you give up your Saturday to be here?” That was the opening question of Matthew Manion when he began the first ever Art of Persuasion seminar. 50 Pro-Lifers had those words echoed into their mentality at Villanova University. Manion brought his experience in the business world to the seminar and a professor of the academia scene on the mainline campus.

In his presentation, Manion suggests to persuade the 2nd person. That second person is you. It helps that person think of what they can do to get involved with the movement. In order to persuade, Manion suggests three steps.

The first is to ask for what is needed to be accomplished and support in order to achieve that goal.

The second is to compare. Compare what you and the other person want to accomplish. Then, follow it up by how you can help and achieve that goal.

There is a strong link between self-efficacy and success. Simply put it defines the person’s belief and chances of successfully accomplishing a specific task.

In the midst of learning how to persuade other to defend life, those gathered also offered ramps to get others involved with the movement.

“We must provide a way to draw people into the pro-life movement.” Manion challenging those gathered.

Some suggestions varied to making blessing bags used during prayer vigils, having a holy hour for life, pregnancy support centers, and even a movie night.

Juid Neeld and Kim Savage, the first missionaries of Generation Life close out the seminar with a presentation.

Savage shared how she gave a presentation to a group of high school students at Bishop Shanahan High School and had thoughts about how she might’ve not delivered her message well. However, years later a young woman who sat in the audience told her how she was in a promiscuous relationship and after hearing Kim broke up with her boyfriend.

Judi took a leap of faith when first invited to pray in front of Philadelphia Women’s Center on Saturday. She thought it was a struggle, but she knew she had to be there for the women going into the abortion facilities.

“We must change hearts on the front lines” Judi Neeld.

Matthew Manion