By Christina Leslie | Correspondent
Faithful of the Diocese of Trenton will have the opportunity to stand for the sanctity of life alongside hundreds of thousands from around the world during the Jan. 18 March for Life in Washington.
Themed “Unique From Day One: Pro-Life is Pro-Science,” the events in the nation’s capital will mark the 46th anniversary of the Rose v. Wade Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion in the United States.
Buses sponsored by parishes from all four counties of the Diocese and various Knights of Columbus councils will be traveling to the march. Last year, the Diocese sent about 19 buses filled with pro-life pilgrims of all ages to the march.
A veteran of three Washington
marches, Rachel Hendricks, diocesan respect life coordinator, called each one
“a unique experience.”
“Having technically been on the losing end of this issue,” she said, “there is such a sense of joy and celebration. I have not witnessed any violence or ill will, even on homemade signs. All ages of people, all walks of life are there.”
Reflecting on past marches, she continued, “Any area of humanity was represented, all messaging was positive and reassuring, and it offered healing. It was remarkable, a big celebration, and a very uniting and positive experience.”
In order to offer those of the Diocese of Trenton the opportunity to celebrate their pro-life stance closer to home, a pro-life Mass will be celebrated by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold, at 7 p.m. Jan. 17. Also, a post-March Mass will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 22 in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, the day of the N.J. Rally for Life on the steps of the N.J. State House.
In Washington, the March for Life Rally will begin at noon at 12th Street on the National Mall between Madison Drive and Jefferson Drive. The slate of speakers and performers for the event is not yet finalized, but includes:
Abby Johnson, a pro-life activist who resigned from her job as a Planned Parenthood clinic director in 2009 after watching an abortion on ultrasound. Johnson is the author of “Unplanned,” which details her abortion work and conversion to the pro-life cause, and runs the anti-abortion ministry “And Then There Were None,” an organization that helps abortion clinic workers leave the industry.
Ben Shapiro, a conservative political commentator, writer and lawyer. Shapiro writes columns for Newsweek, serves as founder and editor-in-chief for “The Daily Wire” and hosts “The Ben Shapiro Show,” a daily political podcast and radio show.
Sidewalk Prophets, a contemporary Christian music band from Nashville and winner of the 2010 GMA Dove Award for New Artist of the Year.
Politicians representing various areas of the country are also expected to speak on the sanctity of life.
Following the rally on the National Mall, the March will begin on Constitution Avenue between 12th and 14th Streets and travel toward the U.S. Supreme Court and Capitol Building. Participants will have the opportunity to both witness “Silent No More” testimonies from women who regret their abortions, and meet with congressional representatives and senators to advocate for life.
A number of events tailored to young pro-life advocates will take place beginning Jan. 17. The March for Life Expo in the Renaissance Washington DC Downtown Hotel, 999 Ninth St. NW, offers attendees the opportunity to connect with numerous pro-life organizations and ministries. It is free of charge and open to the public Jan. 17 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Jan. 18 from 8 to 10:30 a.m. and from 4 to 7 p.m.
A March for Life Youth Rally is slated for the Grand Ballroom of the hotel from 2 to 4 p.m. Jan. 17. Young people will hear from key leaders in the pro-life movement, get tips on advocating for life on social media, learn practical tips for volunteering and get fired up for the next day’s March for Life.
There is enthusiasm amongst pro-life advocates due to the recent confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Hendricks noted.
“There is a strong sense he will uphold the true sense of our Constitution, though [he] needs to be tested with cases,” she said.
Her advice to those contemplating the trip to the nation’s capital for the event is to go with an open mind and open heart.
“Give it a try and just go. You will be surprised how much there is to take in and learn about the morality of the issue and from people around [you],” she said. “The word ‘pro-life’ could cause people to have a reaction where you’d expect a debate or argument, but you see people … approach the subject with charity and hope.”