Respect life advocates gather the morning of Jan. 19 in front of a stage on the National Mall. Patrick Brown photo 
Respect life advocates gather the morning of Jan. 19 in front of a stage on the National Mall. Patrick Brown photo 

From Staff Reports

In previous years, participants in the annual March for Life showcased their tenacious commitment to the pro-life cause by steadfastly bracing, wind sleet and snow on behalf of the unborn.

This year in Washington, temperatures in the high 40s helped marchers feel a little less frigid – but no less determined.

Photo Gallery:  Diocese of Trenton March for Life

Under blue skies, hundreds of thousands of Americans, including thousands from the Diocese of Trenton, converged on the nations’ capital Jan. 19 for the 45th annual March for Life. The event, held a few days in advance of the anniversary of the Jan. 22, 1973, Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in all 50 states, calls for protection of all human life and an end to abortion.

“I have the opportunity to see so many students grow in their faith and stand up for what they believe,” said Deborah Flego, moderator of Red Bank Catholic High School’s Respect Life club, Caseys4Life. “They support one another...We are beyond excited!” said Flego, who coordinated a group of students marching in Washington.

Attendees packed buses, Metro trains, and filled the streets of D.C. with chants like “Hey hey! Ho ho! Roe v. Wade has got to go” as they made their way to the annual March.

LIFE CHOICES

If there was ever a day that Father Michael Kennedy said he was especially happy to preach a homily and stand at the ambo in All Saints Church, Burlington, it was Jan. 19, about an hour before he was to board a bus and head to the March for Life.

In his homily, Father Kennedy, parochial vicar in St. Katharine Drexel Parish, Burlington, first reminded the nearly 40 parishioners who were present for the 6:15 a.m. Mass – and most of whom were fellow travelers – about the significance of the annual March and how together they would stand in peaceful solidarity with tens of thousands of others from across the nation who want to show their unwavering support for human life in all its stages.

Father Kennedy drove his pro-life message home by sharing a personal story, explaining how there was an outbreak of German measles in the late 1960s that posed a high risk for pregnant women that could result in serious birth defects. The wife, Father Kennedy said, were strongly advised by their physicians to terminate their pregnancies. 

Without identifying the people by name, Father Kennedy told of a married couple he knew who was faced with that situation. The woman worked as a nurse in a Philadelphia hospital, and in her second trimester, she contracted German measles, also known as rubella. Though she and her husband were pressured to have an abortion, the couple’s steadfast faith in God and their commitment to each other and to their baby led them not to have an abortion.

“All I have to say to that couple is, I’m glad they made that choice, otherwise, I wouldn’t be standing here before you,” Father Kennedy said to the congregation, as looks of surprise crossed their faces upon realizing that he had been talking about his parents.

If the abortion had occurred, Father Kennedy said, “I wouldn’t be here to serve the people of this parish. I’m really glad to be here.”

While it was years ago when Father Kennedy’s parents faced pressure from doctors about having an abortion, he said present-day influences are much greater for a woman in an unplanned pregnancy situation. Along with being pressured by her physicians, other sources might be family members, friends, the current cultural climate and the media.

“Often, abortion is presented as the best option or the first option,” said Father Kennedy.

“Today is a chance for us to raise our voices against the pressure,” said Father Kennedy, and to stand up and support the women and couples who are in an unplanned pregnancy and are frightened to bring a child into this world.

PRAYING AS ONE

The March for Life kicked off the evening before for some, as thousands upon thousands of faithful from around the country gathered for an opening Mass and National Prayer Vigil for Life in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

Among those in attendance was Jerry Wutkowski, ministry assistant in the Diocese of Trenton’s Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, who shared, “The Basilica was filled to capacity! It was beautiful to witness so many young people, teens and young adults! It was an overwhelming experience to pray all evening.”

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