NEWS

Pro-Life Ministry leads 150 supporters to March for Life in Washington, D. C.
January 18-19, 2018

It was 6:00 on a Thursday morning. A group of 150 individuals including 90 high school students from St. Paul Catholic High School, representatives from East Catholic High School, diocesan priests, people from St. Gerard’s Center for Life, employees of ORTV, and various parishioners packed together in the San Damiano Room at the location of the Franciscan Life Center in Meriden, CT. The noise level of the excited chatting was hardly acceptable for such an early hour, but the energy could not be contained. At a time when these people would ordinarily be rising to go off to another day of work or to school, they were gathering to journey down to Washington, D.C. for the largest human rights protest in the world, the March for Life.

For 17 years now, the Archdiocese of Hartford has sponsored a pilgrimage to the March for Life. The staff of the Pro-Life Office provides guidance in each bus and along the March. A pilgrimage is not merely a trip; it is a journey to a significant destination with a particular emphasis and intensity given to prayer. In coming together as pilgrims, we committed ourselves to pray for an end to abortion and all violations of human life.

We boarded the 3 buses and hit the road! While enroute, we prayed Lauds and the Rosary with special mindfulness that prayer is the greatest tool we have in combatting all that is opposed to life. We stopped only once for a quick lunch and break and then continued the journey.

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Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist at the Basilica. From left, Sister Patricia Glass, Sister Mary Mercy Lee, Sister Marie Benedict Elliott, Sister Amaris Salata, and Sister Suzanne Gross.

After pausing briefly at the hotel, we got back on the buses which took us to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for the Opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life. Our group dispersed so as to more easily find seats, which were more than scarce. The Basilica was filled with families, people of all ages, military personnel, seminarians, priests, men and women religious – it was a microcosm of the Catholic Church. Upon descending to the crypt, one would see many youths huddled together on the floor because it was the only space available, although they hardly seemed to mind. Cardinal Dolan presided and his warmth and joy radiated from his smile as he processed in, following his brother priests and cardinals. Please see the text of Timothy Cardinal Dolan’s homily here: http://cardinaldolan.org/index.php/national-prayer-vigil-for-life-2018-opening-mass-homily/

The next day, January 19th, the day of the March commenced with Mass in the hotel. It was an honor to have Archbishop Leonard P. Blair as the principal celebrant of the Mass. The Archbishop delivered a homily which reminded us that our mission as Christians is first and foremost to follow Christ and to be with Him in prayer. We are blessed with the gifts of Adoration, the Rosary, and the Sacraments. Although society and the state of our nation may at times seem bleak, we have great cause for hope and rejoicing because God is our loving Father whose plan is always being accomplished, though we do not always have the eyes to see it. He spoke to the gift we have in our freedom to be creative. However, when the “freedom to be creative becomes freedom to create ourselves, we lose sight of God and persons.” When we see ourselves as the creator and master, everything else loses its proper order, so let us pray for the virtue of humility to see and be who we truly are, which is a gift and a responsibility.

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Archbishop Leonard P. Blair, Archbishop of Hartford, delivers the homily at the hotel Mass.

Reverend Paul Scalia, Diocese of Arlington, guest speaker at the breakfast, answers the question, "Why do we march?"

Following Mass we were blessed to have Fr. Paul Scalia (son of the late Justice Antonin Scalia) speak to us. “Why do we march?” he asked. He proposed five reasons:

  1. To witness to justice owed to all persons, including those in the womb – Every other group can speak for itself but not those in the womb; they need us.
  2. To be prophets in our current age – Our presence and witness to something countercultural will be seen as strange and will make others uncomfortable. This discomfort is a good thing, “people’s consciences need to be disturbed” to be raised to the truth.
  3. To establish community – we draw strength from one another and witness to a unity of people who believe in the cause of the pro-life movement.
  4. To spread God’s mercy – we have to let those who have had abortions know that God and his people are merciful and compassionate.
  5. To commit ourselves to this cause – this physical experience of marching grounds us more deeply in the truth and commits us more to the protection of life in all its stages.

Fr. Scalia closed in reminding us of the gift we have in our faith and prayer. In coming together, we have the opportunity to pray together and to truly reach the hearts of those in need of conversion and mercy.

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From left, Sister Suzanne Gross, FSE, Director of Pro-Life Activities; Archbishop Leonard P. Blair, Archbishop of Hartford; and Reverend Paul Scalia, Diocese of Arlington, son of the late Justice Anton Scalia at the breakfast following the Mass.

Now being fed for the journey through the Mass and Fr. Scalia’s empowering speech, we were ready to march. We left the hotel to find the sun shining and the air unseasonably warm. Before the speeches began at the National Mall, two bald eagles circled above – a symbol of our nation and the freedom for which it stands. A more remarkable moment was when a red, heart-shaped balloon drifted between the eagles. “Love Saves Lives” was the theme of the March. Freedom and love, two birds of a feather, one might say.

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And then we marched, making our way to the Supreme Court, witnessing to the goodness and gift of life and to proclaim the injustice being done on our unborn children. Although the situation is grave, the energy of the day and the people were uplifting and hopeful. Thousands upon thousands, not the least of which were young people who are gifted with a special zeal and enthusiasm for life, filled the streets as a peaceful, steady river rushes to the ocean. We were channeled and bonded together as a united front, encouraging one another through our presence to go out once more into the world to continue to be witnesses of life.

We marched that day with gratitude for the right we are granted to speak out when we want change, with gratitude for the freedom to choose life, with gratitude for the free gift of love that our Father in Heaven generously bestows on all of us, a love that cannot be contained and which must be given if it is to be preserved. It is love that begets life. Indeed, love saves lives.

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Pro-Life Ministry • Archdiocese of Hartford
271 Finch Avenue • Meriden, CT 06451 • 203-639-0833
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