March for Life inspires participants to work at local level
By Theresa Ward
COLORADO SPRINGS. A large group of youth and adults from the diocese traveled to Washington, D.C. to participate Jan. 20 in the March for Life, an annual demonstration which takes place as a response to the Jan. 22, 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court which legalized abortion in all 50 states. Prior to the ruling, states had their own laws about abortion. The march began the following year, 1974, and has continued ever since.
“Even with the wonderful blessing of Roe v. Wade being overturned, which allows more freedom at the state level to enact pro-life laws, the necessary work to build a culture of life in the United States of America is not finished. Rather, it is focused differently,” states the March for Life website. “Sadly, the number of abortions annually is still well over 900,000 each year, and that number is expected to decrease only by roughly 200,000 each year in a post-Roe America.” The website states that many national legislative battles loom, including even keeping longstanding Hyde protections, which limit government funding for abortion on annual appropriation bills.”
“It is such an important issue and one that is critical to our faith,” said Melissa Smith, liturgist at St. Peter Parish in Monument. She went to the March with youth and young adults from the parish and called the experience a life-changing opportunity for youth to see their faith in action.
“They had the opportunity to be a voice for the unborn and stand for their pro-life beliefs with over 100,000 fellow defenders of life,” she said, and added that as they become the next generation of Catholics, it is critical for them to be educated about the issues, to grow in confidence and competence, and communicate these truths to change the minds and hearts of our broken world.
Shannon Bryant, a young adult member of St. Peter Parish in Monument, was a part of the group. She discussed why it was still necessary, considering the reversal of the Supreme Court’s ruling, to demonstrate for the pro-life cause.
“Despite Roe v. Wade being overturned, Colorado is still a major hub for abortions. Our state seems to celebrate the numbers of pre-born babies killed here,” Bryant said. “Colorado really demonizes pro-lifers. I think it’s necessary that our peers, coworkers, family members, and friends see how we love them as pro-lifers and honor their inherent dignity and that we honor the baby in the womb with that same dignity.”
Bryant said she wants people to know that her focus is on protecting both the baby and the mother from the atrocities of abortion. She stressed that this is a loving message.
“People will not hear you out on this topic if you do not love them first, and that’s how we will change hearts — one at a time,” she said.
Coming together with the larger group of marchers from all over the country was a memorable experience for the youth that were there, said Smith.
“Many of them spoke of an overwhelming joy and passion for the cause, citing new information learned and numerous opportunities to share their faith,” Smith said.
“I felt on fire to help our pro-life resources with my time and tithing,” Bryant said. “I am especially excited to start volunteering for Colorado Springs’ new maternity home, Mater Filius.”
Smith said she was grateful to the attendees of the Bishop’s Respect Life dinner, who made the trip possible for many of the youth. Julie Bailey, director of the diocesan Respect Life Apostolate, explained that, since 2012, supporters of the Bishop’s Respect Life Dinner have donated to the Bishop’s Respect Life Fund, which pays about half of the cost for everyone who attends the trip to the March.
“In addition, previous winners of the 2019 diocesan pro-life video contest — Ava Homec, Lucy McIntyre, and Aileen Ambuul — attended under full scholarship.” Bailey added that a generous benefactor donated over $600 toward the cost of meals for the trip as well.
The enthusiasm which the participants brought to St. Peter Parish on their return was notable. “Since our return home, I have been contacted by many parishioners who want to reserve their spot for next year’s trip,” said Smith.
Bryant said she was moved by meeting former workers in abortion clinics at the march.
“If we can pray and convert the workers at abortion mills then they will have no one to work at these places. We have to make abortion unthinkable for them and for our entire culture.”