Rachel Hendricks, coordinator of Respect Life Ministries in the Diocese of Trenton, takes part in the Rally for Life Jan. 22 outside the State House Annex in Trenton. Mike Ehrmann photo
Rachel Hendricks, coordinator of Respect Life Ministries in the Diocese of Trenton, takes part in the Rally for Life Jan. 22 outside the State House Annex in Trenton. Mike Ehrmann photo
Sharing her gift of song with those gathered for the Rally for Life outside the State House, cantor Rosemary LaMachia of Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton, explained why she has attended the public declaration of faith for the past 20 years.

“We need to show the younger people we stand up for our beliefs. Nothing is more important,” said LaMachia, whose musical talents helped open and close the rally.

Photo Gallery: 2020 Rally for Life at Trenton State House

Nearly 300 individuals standing in the shadow of Trenton’s State House Annex Jan. 22 came well prepared for the task ahead. Clad in heavy coats to guard them from the 34-degree winter chill, each man, woman and child present cheered resolutely as legislators, clergy and others declared their respect for life in all forms and at all stages.

“It is important to have our voices heard in Trenton, just as men and women – voters all – make their voices heard in Washington at the national level,” said Father James Grogan, pastor of Nativity Parish, Fair Haven, who attended the rally with two parishioners and planned to take part in the March for Life in Washington the next day.

Sponsored by the Piscataway-based N. J. Right to Life organization, the rally was held on the 47th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision to legalize abortion. The small Trenton plaza quickly filled with individuals, families and parish groups who had arrived to the state capital by car, bus and on foot. Some faithful had traveled the few blocks from St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, the site of a Mass celebrated by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., where all prayed for the sanctity of life.

Each speaker stepped up to a podium behind a blue and white banner that proclaimed, “We’re Bringing New Jersey Back to Life” and shared their message that life, indeed, does matter. Father Stanley Krzyston, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Yardville, opened the rally by leading the group in a sung “Our Father” and urging them to “pray for one soul at a time” in their efforts against abortion.

Numerous pro-life legislators described their efforts to preserve life.

A spokeswoman from the office of U.S. Rep. Christopher Smith, R-Hamilton, read a statement that reminded the crowd of the 61 million pre-born children killed due to abortion, roughly the population of the country of Italy. Smith, a member of St. Gregory the Great Parish, Hamilton Square, outlined upcoming pro-life legislation he planned to support, and called abortion “the human rights issue of our time. Recommit to defend life no matter the sacrifice, no matter the cost,” he urged.

Assemblyman John Dimaio (R-23) noted, “Each year, the number of abortions is a little bit lower. We have a pro-life president; don’t give up the fight.”

Assemblyman Mike Doherty, who hails from the same district, added, “There is no more important issue than standing up for life.”

Roberta Ryniak, president of NJRTL, personalized the pro-life message as she related how her son’s father tried to pressure her into an abortion. She refused, and today the young man is a registered nurse with two children. “Abortion has no place in our society,” she said, then led the crowd in the cheer, “Fight for Life.”

Knights of Columbus Culture of Life Programs Director Steven J. Richardson detailed the work performed by the fraternal organization in support of life. Among other projects, the Knights have donated 25 ultrasound machines to pregnancy centers, made shipments totaling 100,000 diapers for newborns and conducted numerous coat drives for needy children.

Father Grogan stressed the importance for Catholics to make their voices heard.

“It is vitally important for Catholic parishioners to make themselves known and present to our elected representatives,” he said. “It was encouraging to hear the comments of the pro-life legislators who spoke to the crowd, some strongly encouraging that Catholics need to be better organized not just on Jan. 22, but on each day that our legislators are voting on bills that effect our lives and which conflict with our Church teaching.

“One encouraged the participants to make sure we gather on days when the Legislature is in session and voting, and to be sure and bring noise makers!” he said.