Father Michael Kennedy, parochial vicar of St. Katharine Drexel Parish, Burlington, poses for a photo with a group of parishioners during the March for Life. Jeff Bruno photo

Father Michael Kennedy, parochial vicar of St. Katharine Drexel Parish, Burlington, poses for a photo with a group of parishioners during the March for Life. Jeff Bruno photo

By Katie Cerni | Diocesan Digital and Social Media Coordinator

Gwen DeForte of Incarnation-St. James Parish, Ewing, speaks warmly of the four women she remembers in her daily prayers. They are the mothers of her four adopted children.

“They chose life, and because of that, I have my family and we are incredibly blessed,” said DeForte, who also has one birth child.

Photo Gallery:  2019 March for Life in Washington 

DeForte was among the throng of faithful from the Trenton Diocese to journey to the nation’s capital Jan. 18 for the 46th annual March for Life. There, more than 10,000 pro-lifers gathered to make their voices heard as well as listen to a roster of roster of speakers on the National Mall.

And similar to DeForte, their reasons for wanting to participate in the event that is held on or near the Jan. 22 anniversary of the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the United States were as personal and unique as the individuals themselves.

David Huttinger of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Hainesport, said he and his wife, Denise, decided to attend the march for the first time after hearing about the various pro-life efforts undertaken by the parish Knights of Columbus council, of which he is a member.

“At this time in our country, we just had to be here. We had to act,” he said.

Ginny Olsen of Mary Mother of the Church Parish, Bordentown, maintained that the march “is not just about abortion.” In light of the attention being given to the “Me Too Movement,” Olsen said the march also reflects “the way men and women treat each other.”

“We can overturn abortion, but how did we get here in the first place? We should have more respect for one another,” she said.

The Pro-Life Generation

The growing presence of young people at the March for Life each year, namely those of high school and college age, have not gone unnoticed by the adults who faithfully attend each year. One prominent pro-life supporter who was more than pleased to see young people at the march was U.S. Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ).

During a reception after the march on Capitol Hill, the Hamilton native commented on how the younger generation is paving the way for important pro-life legislation.

“The youth, the next generation, is in our favor,” said Smith, a member of St. Gregory the Great Parish, Hamilton Square. “The millennials are pro-life.”

DeForte, who noted that the 2019 marked her sixth march, smiled lovingly at her teenage daughter who accompanied her this year.

“Every time I attend, I see more and more high-schoolers and college ministries … My generation? We just seem to be catching up, we’re just waking up to this … but [young people] really are the pro-life generation,” she said.

Gabriella Hollendonner and her boyfriend, Manuel Ramirez, both members of St. Raphael-Holy Angels Parish, Hamilton, have attended the March for Life since they were high school freshmen. They are now juniors in Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.

Ramirez shared that he has noticed a personal change in his way of thinking as a result of having participated in multiple marches. “In high school, I knew why I marched and why abortion is wrong, but now that I’m older, not only do I know why, I understand why, too,” he said.

Why We Fight

Those who stand up for the dignity of life in all its stages and want to see this respect for all life enshrined once again in U.S. law have a friend in the Trump Administration, Vice President Mike Pence told the March for Life crowd on the National Mall.

Pence and second lady Karen Pence were a surprise addition to the roster of speakers at the rally, and after his remarks, the vice president introduced a videotaped message by President Donald Trump, which also was unexpected.

“We gather here because we stand for life and believe as our Founding Fathers did that life born and unborn is endowed with certain unalienable rights, and the first of those is life,” the vice president said to the cheering crowd.

Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, welcomed the crowd and thanked them for coming once again to march to end abortion, what she called “the greatest human rights abuse of our time.”

“We must keep marching for life every day of the year,” Mancini said, and she asked each marcher to share his or her pro-life story on social media because even of those stories about “why we march” can change others’ minds about abortion.

Catholic News Service contributed to this report.