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‘If we say we’re pro-life, we need to show we’re pro-life’
View a slideshow from the trip on the Diocese of Charlotte's You Tube Channel.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Looking up and down a soggy Constitution Avenue on Jan. 23, it was clear that the pro-life movement is thriving and strong. A wave of humanity – estimates were between 300,000 and 500,000 people – made its way to the Supreme Court and the Capitol Building during the March for Life despite rainy and cold January weather.
The 39th annual march was held on the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion. Since then, more than 50 million babies have been legally murdered in the U.S.
Hundreds of thousands of people from around the country boarded buses, vans, trains, cars and airplanes to converge on the nation’s capital to raise their voices and give witness to the dignity of life, especially for the unborn.
A great number of them were the youth of America, the “pro-life generation,” who carried signs and exuberantly chanted encouraging statements as they walked from the Mall to the Supreme Court building. They and their signs declared: “Stop unborn pain,” “De-fund Planned Parenthood,” “I vote pro-life first,” “Personhood for all no matter how small,” “Abortion is not health care” and “Face it…abortion kills a person.”
Several busloads and vanloads of families and youth from across the Diocese of Charlotte were among them. They joined more than 10,000 people at the standing-room-only Vigil Mass for Life the night before at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and then again on Monday morning for the annual North Carolina Mass celebrated by both the Diocese of Charlotte and Diocese of Raleigh.
Two busloads of enthusiastic pilgrims made the journey from St. Mark Church in Huntersville.
Zach Bevilacqua, who grew up at St. John Neumann Church in Charlotte and is now a parishioner at St. Mark, traveled to D.C. on one of those buses with his wife, two children and his mother – the first-ever march for all of them and their first visit to the basilica. They had very personal reasons for wanting to attend the march: His wife experienced a miscarriage in 2010 and had a molar (abnormal) pregnancy in 2011.
“The weekend she had the molar pregnancy we went to Mass and they were collecting the baby bottles (for the fundraiser for the march for life),” he said. “Someone asked us if we wanted to go to the march. We talk about being pro-life in our belief, and through the miscarriage and the molar pregnancy it gave us a greater sense of how it was in God’s hands. We thought, if we say we’re pro-life we need to show we’re pro-life.”
Another first-time marchgoer, Dr. Monica von Uthemann, also a St. Mark parishioner and chairperson of the prayer chain ministry at the church, had the blessing of being asked to carry some of the gifts up at the Vigil Mass, which was celebrated by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo on Jan. 22.
The Vigil Mass was particularly meaningful for Allen and Gini Bond, St. Mark parishioners who are active in pro-life ministry and served as bus captains for the family bus. Their son, Chris Bond, entered the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, last August and participated in both the Vigil Mass Jan. 22 and the North Carolina Mass on Jan. 23 for the first time as a seminarian.
“We are so, so happy for Chris and grateful to God,” said Gini Bond.
Raleigh Bishop Michael F. Burbidge presided over the North Carolina Mass and served as homilist, as Charlotte Bishop Peter J. Jugis was suffering from a fractured foot and could not attend the Masses or D.C. March for Life this year.
After the North Carolina Mass, pilgrims loaded onto buses to head to the march, and several of the seminarians from the Diocese of Charlotte rode down to the march on one of the St. Mark buses. They got there just in time to see the beginning of the march up Constitution Avenue, witnessing the huge “March for Life” banner carried by youths leading the pro-life pilgrims toward the Supreme Court building.
On the eight-hour bus ride home, the pilgrims reflected on their experiences, sharing them over the bus intercom. Children, teens, parents and grandparents all took their turn at the microphone to share their insights.
Connie Andrews, a grandmother who works with the special needs ministry at the church, said, “I have six grandchildren and it really made me reflect today. I grew up in the ’60s, the decade of decadence. We rebelled against everything. We marched against our government, against family values. We did everything wrong … we thought we were in the right.
“As I reflect back and see the mess my generation may have left some things, it makes me so proud to see so many young people out there today who have the conviction through their faith and living it out. I commend you and it makes me feel happier about our future knowing that the Catholic faith is being brought out with such conviction. You are the future leaders of our country, so keep it up.”
— SueAnn Howell, staff writer
Also represented in the March for Life
Two buses with 98 Catholics from Western North Carolina traveled to D.C. to participate in the annual March for Life. Parishes represented included: St. Francis of Assisi in Franklin, St. Mary, Mother of God in Sylva, Sacred Heart in Brevard, St. John the Evangelist in Waynesville, St. Joseph in Bryson City and Our Lady of Guadalupe in Cherokee.
Their pilgrimage included taking 40 youths in sixth grade to 12th-graders to the Holocaust Museum, a tour of the White House and a meeting (pictured at left) with Congressman Heath Shuler on the Capital steps to thank him for his pro-life voting record.
— Julie Tastinger, St. Francis of Assisi Church in Franklin
More March for Life coverage
Read about the March for Life held in Charlotte Jan. 13.
(Photos by Anthony Perlas, SueAnn Howell, Julie Tastinger and CNS)
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FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy