March gets big local boost - Catholic Courier

March gets big local boost

Jan. 22 marked Dr. Stephen A. Spaulding’s 15th appearance at the annual March for Life. That adds up to a lot of bus rides through the night, often in bad winter weather, to Washington D.C. — yet there’s one element the physician never tires of.
 

“One of the scenes that’s always impressive occurs when you look back as you walk up Capitol Hill, and see a mass of humanity is extending as far as you can see, all made up of people marching,” Spaulding said.
 

Whether they are traveling to the nation’s capital or taking part in local events, many Southern Tier-area Catholics are impassioned by the March for Life and the cause for which it stands. The march is held each year on or near the anniversary of the Jan. 22, 1973, Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Participants emphasize the sanctity of life in hopes of getting that landmark decision overturned.
 

A group of 42 bused from Church of St. Mary Our Mother in Horseheads, where Spaulding is a parishioner. They left late at night on Jan. 21 and arrived in Washington in time to attend 7 a.m. Mass Jan. 22 at St. Peter’s Church. Some participants then visited the offices of congressmen to discuss upcoming legislation and related pro-life issues. This included a session with Karen Livingston, legislative assistant to Rep. Randy Kuhl, a Republican whose 29th district covers many parts of the Diocese of Rochester.
 

Also attending the March for Life was Katie Robinson, a church musician at St. Pius X in Cohocton and St. Januarius in Naples. She took a bus with a Rochester group and ended up at a youth rally and Mass at the MCI Center, which holds approximately 20,000 people. Robinson observed that the center was filled with mostly young people.
 

“Being sent forth from Mass to the march was quite beautiful. We were singing ‘Go Make a Difference,’ filled with hope that we were indeed making a difference, strengthened by the Eucharist,” Robinson said.
 

Next came the Rally for Life at the National Mall. The two-hour rally, which began at noon, featured addresses by many politicians and religious leaders. In addition, President George W. Bush addressed the crowd by telephone from Camp David, emphasizing his ongoing commitment to pro-life causes.
“The president’s remarks were truly wonderful, strong and inspiring,” said Mary Ann Philpott, religious-education administrator for the Elmira cluster of St. Casimir, St. Charles Borromeo and Our Lady of Lourdes.
Tens of thousands of people then walked in the March for Life, traveling from the Washington Monument to the Supreme Court Building. Philpott said she was moved by the number of women who carried signs proclaiming “I regret my abortion,” and also was impressed with the amount of young people she saw — “not just children and little ones brought by their moms and dads, but young people between (ages) 15 and 25,” she said. “Young people with strong, independent voices crying out for life, crying out against abortion.”
Spaulding noted that one of those young adults was his daughter Laura, who attends Catholic University of America in Washington. She joined family members for the day’s activities.
 

The Horseheads bus began back to St. Mary Our Mother right after the march concluded, arriving just past 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 23. Philpott and Sharon Pearte, a parishioner of St. Mary Southside in Elmira, did most of the trip’s organizing and “I acted as the trip captain once the trip got going,” Spaulding said.
 

Among local March for Life activities, an evening service was held Jan. 22 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Painted Post. It consisted of numerous prayers and presentations dealing with life issues, and was sponsored by the Secular Order of Franciscans. Gloria House, organizer, a member of All Saints Parish in Corning/Painted Post, said she is personally driven by the fact that Corning is where Planned Parenthood was founded.
 

At St. Mary of the Lake Church In Watkins Glen, a Rosary for Life took place after 10 a.m. Mass on Jan. 21. Additionally, the Schuyler Catholic Community cluster — which also includes St. Benedict Church in Odessa — held a “Celebrate Life” baby shower Jan. 20-21 for the Odessa Pregnancy Resource Center.
 

And in Elmira, a rosary was held Jan. 20 outside Planned Parenthood on East Church Street following 7:45 a.m. Mass at the Dominican Monastery. This is an annual event in conjunction with the Roe v. Wade anniversary, said Mary Lou McGarrell, who attends Our Lady of Lourdes Church. She noted that her co-organizer, Brendan Curtin, who attends St. Patrick Church, has always insisted on a peaceful demonstration.
 

“No signs, no protest, no nothing — just quietly say the rosary and go home,” McGarrell said.
 

Be they silent or vocal protests, Robinson and House emphasized that the important thing is to take action.
 

“We should not destroy life for any reason. Participating in the march is our affirmation that every person is a beautiful creation of God from the moment of conception,” Robinson said.
“I believe every Catholic should help to support at least one pro-life organization,” House added. “So many Catholics are so complacent about abortion and other life issues. As long as they’re comfortable and not affected, they don’t want to hear about the atrocities that our country is allowing.”

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