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Best friends call eight-mile walk to attend march a ‘holy pilgrimage’

Posted By January 29, 2013 | 10:52 am | Lead Story #1
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By Joseph Austin
Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Among the thousands of people gathered in Washington Jan. 25 for the annual March for Life were two best friends from Christendom College, Paul Wilson and John Schofield, who had walked eight miles from St. Mary’s Church in Alexandria, Va., on a “holy pilgrimage.”
Others found their way on long bus trips from every corner of the country to mark the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the United States.
For Luke Ferke, a 14-year-old attending the march for the first time, the 20 hours he spent on the bus were all so he could “stand up for people (who) don’t have a chance to have life.”
Donning a yellow scarf, Adam, who wouldn’t give his last name, told Catholic News Service he came from Pennsylvania with his wife and children to “take a stand against the sin of abortion … (and to) inform younger kids” about the importance of being pro-life.
“Children give us a perspective of what really matters,” said Jamie Legrand as she ran after her playful children at an interdenominational prayer service held at Constitution Hall. Mother and pro-life activist, she drove more than five hours with 15 youths from the Charismatic Episcopal Church, which she attends in Long Island, N.Y.
“(I’m) not here to argue, not here to fight,” she said, “just here to pray” for the unborn and those affected by abortion.
The day grew colder as large groups donning signs with the messages such as “Defend Life” and “I am the pro-life generation” walked toward the starting place for the march. Two young men held handmade signs spelling out an acronym: “change: courts have aborted numerous great embryos.”
For many, being pro-life was something they were most passionate about. “(Abortion) is a great moral issue of our time,” noted Alex Sicree, a double major in English and education at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. “A life is a life” no matter what,” he told CNS.
When determining personhood, “every one of those of criteria” that legal experts come up with to define what is a person, “would have collateral damage” if applied consistently, said Kelsey Hazzard, an attorney in the D.C. area involved in a group called Secular Prolife.
For example, “you’re disabled, you don’t have rights,” she said.
Formed in 2009, Secular Prolife says on its website that it is working for “a world in which abortion is unthinkable, for people of every faith and no faith.”
“No one has a say” in the determination of the life of a person, said Elizabeth Martin, an active member of the Respect Life group at Madonna University in Livonia, Mich.
Only God can determine who lives and who dies, she added.
Abortion is not acceptable in any circumstance, even in case of rape or incest, said Elizabeth Pavacic, a graduate student at Northeastern University. Such exceptions are merely trying to “solve (one) problem with another problem,” she told CNS. That’s why “80 percent of abortion is out of wedlock,” she said.
Nicole Rudolph, a graduate student at Pantheon-Sarbonne University, also known as “Paris 1,” agreed.
She said she feels when families are dominated by a “contraceptive mentality,” they are “less likely to see life as a gift. Strong families are essential for a strong nation,” she explained, and that is what motivated her to come to Washington “to be a voice for those who don’t have a voice … (and to) raise awareness of the health issues involved” when a woman undergoes an abortion.
A large group of small toddlers led by two women walked by the March for Life gathering.
“(Young people), it’s your movement now!” announced a voice from the crowd. “Be healed in Christ Jesus’ name,” proclaimed a preacher on the side of the crowd. “Babies rock,” chanted a group of students.
At the height of the march, a young voice from the crowd expressed pleasant surprise the march attendees were “not just a bunch of Catholics,” but rather a scramble of every possible demographic group in the country.
Near the end of the march, two men stood holding a sign about abortion being wrong in the Torah.
Rabbi Yisroel Dovidweiss, a Hungarian from New York City explained that in Genesis, the Torah renounces the shedding of blood of a “soul in a soul,” which, according to him, represents the fetus. He told CNS his father escaped from Hitler and the Nazis during World War II, but his grandparents were killed at Auschwitz.
In the same way, abortion is genocide, and “not (an) option” because it is against “God’s will,” he said.
A middle-aged woman danced in circles as a live band played praise and worship music.
Just as dancing was a way she could feel the Holy Spirit move within her, so too is being pro-life said Jami Riehm. It’s “God’s desire,” she said.
Paul Hebert, a Knight of Columbus from Virginia, agreed. The 85-year-old described himself as “active as a Catholic gentleman,” and said the Knights gives him the tools to carry out his pro-life beliefs.

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