By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
Adults and youths from throughout the Diocese of Davenport traveled to March for Life events in Chicago on Jan. 12 or Washington, D.C., on Jan. 18.
Tom Crider, Joan Crider, Ed Droste and Gail Devereaux all traveled from Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton to Chicago. Tom Crider said he has participated in marches in Des Moines and Chicago and other pro-life events. He and his wife participated in the “peaceful and cheerful march” to support a culture of life. “We are living in a culture of death. More than 60 million babies have been murdered (through abortion) in this country alone,” Tom said. “Our world is in big trouble.”
He chooses to attend marches and other life events “to give a voice for those who cannot speak.”
The Chicago march drew an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 pro-lifers, he said. “There were some pro-choice people yelling, so it made it hard to hear the speakers.” But the nine- block march drew everyone from families with little children in strollers to the elderly.
Devereaux has now participated in three Chicago marches and in previous marches in Des Moines and Washington, D.C. The march in Chicago was a wonderful experience and showed that every life is valued, she said. “It was uplifting to be with nearly 8,000 people. There was a drum line playing, which really pumped me up.”
In the future, she’d like to see more participants from the Davenport Diocese. “It would be great to see a charter bus start in Iowa City and go to Davenport, then to Chicago. There are affordable rooms, a youth rally, Mass at the cathedral and more.”
Iowans for Life and Dubuque County Right to Life sponsored buses to the Washington, D.C., march.
Magnolia Graber, 16, a high school sophomore from St. Wenceslaus Parish in Iowa City, made her third trip. “I’m not always surrounded by people who share the same viewpoint as me when it comes to abortion, and it can be easy to think that there are very few pro-life youth in America. But when I go to the March for Life, I see just how powerful the pro-life movement really is. I’m always so encouraged by the tens of thousands of people gathered in one place, all fighting for the right to life.”
Nathaniel Lamansky, a homeschooled high school senior from St. Wenceslaus Parish, made his fifth march. “It’s profoundly peaceful and spiritual in spite of the enormity of the crowd. Every participant is there as a witness to the sanctity of human life, and the solemnity and conviction of their behavior reflects this fact.”
High school freshman Karen Mawanda of St. Wenceslaus Parish participated “to support the lives of the unborn children.” It was her first big march and she described the experience as amazing. “At first I was scared that there would be many people going against the march or that there would be people trying to shoot at other people during the march. I relaxed and started to enjoy myself when that negativity was not going to be a huge problem.”
Amanda Herrington, a sophomore at Assumption High School in Davenport, said, “What was so impactful for me was seeing how many young teens are in D.C. standing for life and there were even people coming from different countries to help us end abortion.”
Herrington continued, “I wanted to come to the March for Life because I wanted to end the killing of innocent babies that can easily be adopted by couples who can’t conceive or families who want to be bigger.” A member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport, she said the march is “always awe-inspiring and hope-filling when that many people gather, united, for a common good.”
Deacon Chris Kabat of St. Wenceslaus Parish served as one of the chaperones for the group of 14 youths and three adults. The bus ride back to Iowa was long because the buses were trying to avoid the snowstorm, he said. “We took a southern route to avoid the storm. We stopped for Mass at St. Meinrad (in Indiana) on Saturday evening. Thank you, Benedictine hospitality! It was a little treacherous from that point on.” The return trip home took 26-28 hours for the various buses.
Chaperone Mary Kendall of St. Paul the Apostle said, “The March for Life was an amazing trip truly led by the Holy Spirit.” The rally, reconciliation, Mass, speakers before the march and the march “were truly all powerful and touched many hearts. There were countless times that I could feel Christ walking right next to me.”
She said she felt blessed that her 13-year-old daughter attended the march with her. Kendall added, “There were many different reasons people attended, but for me – having been adopted as an infant — it was something I knew I needed to do. It is something near and dear to my heart. I am thankful for the choice my natural mother made for life. Though I will never meet her, it was a way of showing my love to her and Christ.”