By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
Dozens of people with connections to the Diocese of Davenport stood up for life by attending the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 24.
Diocesan seminarian Dominic Nguyen traveled with fellow seminarians from Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois. “I want to be a witness for life and to share my stance that I oppose abortion and euthanasia and I firmly hold that life begins at conception and ends at natural death,” he said.
He appreciated the homilies at the opening and closing Masses at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. “The bishops were firm when they preached about the evil of abortion and euthanasia, and it was encouraging for me to know from Archbishop (Joseph) Naumann’s homily that the pope is supporting the march.” Archbishop Naumann leads the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas.
The crowd demonstrated “huge” energy — singing hymns, reciting the rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet — all the way to the march, Nguyen said.
St. Ambrose University-Davenport student Jacob Braun has been “striving to make a stronger pro-life presence on campus” through Bees for Life. The march was something he needed to do. There was “such an aura of love that you can feel from everyone marching,” he said of his first national March for Life. “I am pro-life and I believe all pro-life (supporters) should make at least one pilgrimage to the march in their life.”
He also appreciated the crowd’s energy. “It is very clear that many of our young people and students feel very strongly about protecting the life and dignity of all human lives,” said Braun, who is majoring in exercise science. He also attended the first National Pro-Life Summit on Saturday. “This convention was huge and there were so many talks about all different matters relating to the issue of life. Some of these talks ranged from the state and future of our health care system to bioethics to Theology of the Body, to being a man in the pro-life movement.”
Braun said he “can’t wait to share all of my experiences and knowledge gained from this trip with everyone back on campus, in our community, and at home (in Wisconsin).”
St. Ambrose student Megan Schultz also made her first trip to the national march and described the experience as “electric.” Schultz, who is majoring in psychology, said “The Messengers” gave an amazing concert to start the rally. Several speeches spoke about the power of love.
After the concert, many “amazing public and political figures took the stage.” That included President Donald Trump. “Regardless of the opinions surrounding President Trump, he will fight with us to end abortion, and that’s the best thing I can ask for in a president.”
Despite the physical fatigue from the hours-long event, Schultz said it was important to “stand up for the voiceless.” She felt empowered by the pro-life summit. “I was beyond blessed to hear a talk from the amazing Alevda King, who at one point said, ‘Women need love, not abortion.’”
Carson Gorton, a high school senior from Immaculate Conception Parish in Cedar Rapids, traveled with a group from Iowa City. “I had a great experience last year and I wanted to come back.” He said it was “uplifting seeing so many young Catholics at the opening Mass at the National Shrine.”
Liam McDonald, a high school freshman from St. Wenceslaus Parish in Iowa City, attended his third national march. “I wanted to make a difference and feel very strongly about this subject.” He described the march as having an atmosphere of “excitement and comradery.”
High school senior Noah Kabat of St. Wenceslaus Parish said he attended the march to be a voice for the voiceless and do what he can to stop the horror of abortion. He appreciated the excitement and the “love for the cause” he witnessed at the march. A highlight for him was the Vigil Mass at the National Shrine.
Maria Brown, a high school senior and member of St. Wenceslaus, attended the march “because abortion is not yet illegal. As long as abortion is legal, there is a need for the march and a need for students like myself to attend.” She said the march was solemn, but vibrant. On the bus trip to D.C., participants watched the movie “Unplanned,” which Brown said made the reality of abortion sink in deeply.
Valerie Teets, a member of St. Mary Parish in Iowa City, has made six national marches. “I chose to go this year for the same reason I’ve gone every year. I believe every human life has value and that since we have been given a voice and a chance at life, we have a responsibility to speak out for those who do not have that.”
Sarah Martin, a junior at Regina High School in Iowa City and member of St. Mary Parish, said she heard from friends that the march is an amazing experience. “I had to give it a shot and I am so glad I did. I got so much closer with the people in my group and loved fighting for life with them. It really helped having a good strong group to go with.”
Martin said the people at the march “gave me so much hope for the future and lit a fire inside of me. Knowing that there are thousands of people around my age wanting to end abortion was so inspiring.”