Many years later, Sharon Pearte clearly remembers the most profound affirmation she ever received regarding her March for Life involvement.
According to Pearte, that moment came when the presiding bishop at a Mass in Washington, D.C., addressed march participants — literally minutes after she had completed an overnight bus trip.
"I dragged myself in after not sleeping all night. He said to us, ‘You are witnessing to your faith, God bless you. It’s easy to say you oppose abortion but when you spend all night on a bus, go without sleep and you’re on your feet all day long and in the cold, you’re witnessing to your faith,’" recalled Pearte, a parishioner of St. Mary Southside in Elmira. "And that, for me, put everything right in its place."
Many folks in the Diocese of Rochester continue to witness in such a manner, as indicated by several buses that have been reserved for the upcoming March for Life. Coalitions of marchers will travel from all over the diocese to the 38th-annual march, which will take place Jan. 24 in the nation’s capital.
The March for Life serves as an ongoing protest of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decisions that legalized abortion in the United States. While in Washington, diocesan Catholics of all ages attend Masses and large rallies, lobby their local legislators, and take part in the march that begins at the national mall and ends at the steps of the Supreme Court building. According to organizers, the march drew approximately 20,000 people its first year in 1974 and has since grown to 10 times that amount.
Spots are still available on buses from this diocese, which will leave on the evening of Jan. 23 and return approximately 24 hours later. Departure details are:
- St. Mary Our Mother, 816 W. Broad St., Horseheads; and All Saints, 222 Dodge Ave., Corning. Cost is $45. All Saints is expected to send a sizable youth contingent. Contact Steve at 607-739-9282 or Sharon at 607-734-2680.
- St. Mary, 90 N. Main St., Canandaigua. $60 adults, $30 students. Contact Fran at 585-924-7051 or email@example.com.
- St. Thomas the Apostle, 4536 St. Paul Blvd., Irondequoit. $60 adults, $30 students. Contact Mary Jo at 585-771-0084.
- St. Pius Tenth, 3010 Chili Ave., Chili. Contact Jan at 585-203-1717.
- St. John of Rochester, 8 Wickford Way, Fairport. $50 adults, $25 students. Contact Debbie at 585-248-4647.
- Holy Spirit, 1355 Hatch Road, Penfield. $60 adults, $30 students. Contact Sandy at 585-387-0993.
Although Pearte no longer attends the March for Life after many pilgrimages in earlier years, she still coordinates the Horseheads buses along with Dr. Steve Spaulding, a St. Mary Our Mother parishioner, on behalf of Chemung County Right to Life. She also remains involved in local pro-life causes, such as joining Right to Life prayer vigils on the second Saturday of each month at 9 a.m. outside the Horseheads Planned Parenthood.
Pearte retains a multitude of stirring memories from past Marches for Life, such as the many priests and nuns displaying placards; the warm welcomes extended by other march-related people in Washington; and the great number of enthusiastic young people who attend the march. Pearte also observed that although traveling overnight from Rochester is "a toughie," that’s nothing compared to the people from more remote parts of the country who willingly take days to bus to Washington.
"It makes you proud to be a Catholic and proud to be pro-life," she said of the March for Life experience.