Catholic Free Press

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  • Jan
  • 31

March for Life

Posted By January 31, 2013 | 4:15 pm | Lead Story #3

By Tanya Connor

What’s life been like these past 40 years?
If you’re 40 or over, you have stories to tell.
If you’re younger, and you were born in the United States, you’re blessed to have a life story. You could have been aborted, thanks to the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
Since those decisions, people have worked to stop the resulting holocaust, which has taken more than 55 million lives. One way is through the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C.
What’s it like going to the march?
If you’ve gone, here are some memory-joggers.
If you haven’t, here’s an enticement for next year, or at least a “virtual tour” of this year.
Jan. 24
7:30 p.m.: Marchers and supporters gather at St. Paul Cathedral for the Respect Life Mass. Father Richard F. Reidy, pastor of St. Ann Parish in North Oxford, preaches about how we’ve just celebrated Martin Luther King, who worked for equal justice and voting rights for African Americans, and inaugurated the nation’s first black president, who, at birth, could have been denied a bus seat. One hundred years earlier, he could have been put in chains.
Father Reidy mentions Supreme Court decisions preceding Roe v. Wade: slaves were not considered citizens, racial segregation was legal, Japanese Americans were interned. President Barack Obama’s inauguration shows “we can overcome ghastly mistakes,” he says.
He encourages listeners to pray and visit the National Archives, which houses the Declaration of Independence, which claims for all – the right to life.
9 p.m.: Marchers board buses: Diocesan Bus 1 takes Assumption College students and individuals; Diocesan Bus 2, students from Anna Maria College in Paxton and Trivium School in Lancaster. St. Mary Parish in Shrewsbury has its own bus, with students from their school and St. Mary Junior/Senior High School in Worcester. Sharing another bus are pastors and parishioners of Sacred Heart of Jesus in Webster, St. Roch’s in Oxford and St. Ann’s in North Oxford.
Those on this bus watch “Thine Eyes: A Witness to the March for Life” narrated by Jennifer O’Neill. It shows the passion of a wide variety of people participating in the 2009 March. For the ride home, Sacred Heart’s pastor, Father Adam Reid, loans the DVD to Bus 1, which then shares it with Bus 2.

Jan. 25

4:30 a.m.: The buses arrive at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Inside, a good-humored worker shouts: Please move out of the hallway; more people are coming. Gentlemen, take off your hats; you’re going into church. This is a recording.
Andrew Guerin, 15, of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Webster, tells The Catholic Free Press about his scarf.
“My sister thought of it,” he says of Michelle, 17. Their friend Katie Morrissey helped them make 24 scarves for their parish’s marchers, by stenciling precious baby feet, and drawing a heart and cross, on pieces of red fleece.
Adoration, lauds and benediction provide the conclusion for holy hours. Brother Pier Giorgio Dengler, a first-year student from the nearby Dominican House of Studies, gives a reflection.
“God for a Father, God for a Brother, a sinless Blessed Mother – truly God loves us,” he says. He speaks of the strength of family ties,  and the “divide and conquer” mentality which destroys the marriage bond, separates fathers from families and isolates “the mother even from her child,” seen as a threatening part of her body. If there’s no child, there’s no family. Calling Jesus our Brother he encourages, “Live as if you still share a room with him.”

webDeaconsDaveScott    7 a.m.: Some people seem prepared to participate in the 7:30 a..m. closing Mass for the National Prayer Vigil for Life from this lower chapel. A trot upstairs suggests why: the main church is filling fast. Some worshippers sit on the floor. Some watch the Mass on a screen from a side chapel. Father Father Michael J. Roy, St. Roch’s pastor, says later that he distributed Communion in the vestibule, and found people were outside; they couldn’t fit in the church.

7:30 a.m.: In the procession are clergy from the Worcester Diocese: Fathers Reidy, Reid and Roy and Deacons David F. Vaillancourt, stationed at St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Milford, and Scott Colley, who serves the Athol and Petersham parishes. The main celebrant and homilist, Bishop Kevin J. Farrell, of the Diocese of Dallas, speaks of celebrating life, commemorating with sadness lives not respected, praying for a change of heart and taking the witness beyond church doors. He speaks of the missionary St. Paul, whose conversion we’re celebrating, a conversion that gives hope on this anniversary of Roe v. Wade. He urges pro-lifers not to give up, especially in this Year of Faith.
After Mass Father Roy shows his parishioners some of the basilica’s Marian shrines, starting with Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of life, shown pregnant and credited with helping Aztecs stop sacrificing their children.
After breakfast, and a visit to the National Archives, the Sacred Heart contingent finds a spot on the streets with numerous others awaiting the start of the march.
1 p.m.: Several white flags pass by. Yellow balloons adorned with the word “Life” form an arch. The march is on.
Sacred Heart people dovetail in, behind people from Trinity Catholic Academy in Southbridge.
There’s plenty to see and hear along the way: from the Capitol to message-bearing signs. People from “American Needs Fatima,” hold a statue and play in a band. You might catch snatches of a hymn or the Hail Mary, and chants like: “We love babies, yes we do. We love babies. How ’bout you?”
Here, at last is the Supreme Court building, the march’s destination. A clergyman is praying. Then a woman asks the crowd, whether abortion is the law of the land: did they vote on it? Abortion is a “product” that has failed women, she maintains. When your tires fail, what happens? They’re recalled.
Terry Ann Renaud, St. Roch’s director of religious education, marvels, as the group waits in the falling snow for their bus, at “all faiths gathering to say what we believe.” And, she adds, “there is hope with all these young people.”
“I was amazed at all the people,” says Rachel Laythe, who’s come for the first time. “I’d do it again.”9282StRoch
More local marchers arrive.
Pauline Ludwig, of Sacred Heart, says she and fellow-parishioner Jane Mills knew they couldn’t march, so they went to the basilica. Mrs. Ludwig says she came on her second trip to the march “in the spirit of prayer, penance, for the cause,” that she prayed the president and legislators will work for life instead of supporting abortion, and that she hopes it doesn’t take 100 years like with slavery.
“It was a whole lot bigger than I thought,” Samuel Correira, 13, of St. Ann’s, says of the march.
“I think it’s the most people ever,” says Ella McLaughlin, a third-timer from Blessed Sacrament Parish in Worcester. She says people’s enthusiasm was greater, and that was encouraging.
Fellow parishioner Phyllis Towns praises the talk Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston gave at the rally and rejoices in the tweet he had from the pope for them.
Finally on the Bus 1, which had trouble finding unblocked streets, Joseph Duggan, 80, of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Worcester, says he thought he was the oldest person there, but decided several were older. He praises the marchers’ dedication.
Jay Guillette, 55, of St. Paul Cathedral, says he last came five years ago.
“I figured I had to get back for the 40th,” he says. He says it seemed there were 10 youth to every one person his age.
“It seemed like there was a lot more singing,” he says. “Kids are more likely to do that. They just kind of burst into a song, burst into a chant.”
Maddie Harley, a first-timer from Assumption College, says she liked seeing a video of March founder Nellie Gray. Even though she died last year, it showed what she started is still going on, the student says. She says the youth rally at the Verizon Center was good, with a “really nice” Mass with music she liked.
“It was just powerful to see all different kinds of people coming together for the same reason,” she says.
“It displayed our Catholic faith – the unity,” says Assumption freshman Michael Hoye, who went on the march last year with his high school – Holy Name Central Catholic.
“On the march itself there were people of all Christian denominations and even some atheists, all different faiths under one goal,” he says. “It gives hope to society; we just broke down those barriers.”
“To see all the priests and bishops and a representative of the pope – that was really cool,” William Rein, an Assumption junior and first-timer, says of the youth Mass. “Then the march – I don’t know if I’ve ever seen so many people in one location. They could show one thing in common. That was really cool.”
James Rizza, Assumption’s campus ministry director, says he brought 18 students, and two went on their own. He says he’s impressed that they care so much about the unborn as to pay to come march in the cold.
“I think it really demonstrates their love for God and their charity for our most helpless citizens,” he says.
“It was a very emotional experience for me,” says Robin Bazinet, of St. Mary Parish in North Grafton. “I just felt a great feeling of camaraderie, talking to so many people from so many states: Wisconsin, Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa. … It was like a sea of people. It was really a heart-warming experience.”
Now, she says, she plans to join her parish’s pro-life group.