Above, the Diocese of Venice youth at the National March for Life Jan. 18 in Washington, D.C. Below, the group stands together at the vigil Mass Jan. 17, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. (COURTESY PHOTOS)

Venice Diocese group participates in National March

Washington, D.C. | A group of more than 250, mostly young people, took part in the National March for Life in Washington, D.C., Jan. 18. The march is the largest gathering of pro-lifers in the nation with hundreds of thousands participating.

The 2019 march marks the 46th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that paved the way for legalizing abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy. Since that decision, more than 60 million abortions have been performed legally in the United States.

The Diocesan group was led by Diocese Evangelization Director Joshua Mazrin and included youth from Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, St. Raphael Parish in Lehigh Acres, St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naples, Ave Maria Parish and Donahue Academy in Ave Maria, Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers and St. Katherine Drexel and St. Andrew parishes in Cape Coral. They were joined by several priests from the Diocese. Groups from Ave Maria University and the Ave Maria School of Law attended the March.

The youth heard talks from national pro-life advocates and were treated to an appearance by Vice President Mike Pence and his wife. President Donald Trump addressed the marchers via a video during which he committed to upholding pro-life laws.

Lia, a youth from St. Andrew, said the March was a moving experience.

“Just to breathe in the frigid D.C. air, walk and pray with close friends, and enlighten others about the pro-life movement, was an immense blessing,” she said. “We must inform others that abortion is not healthcare. Abortion is murder. A third of my generation is missing and I will not stay silent.”

Cary, from St. Raphael Parish, explained how this march served as an important reminder to everyone that abortion is the taking of a human life. “During the march I saw so many young children. Even the children realized that babies in the womb are really babies not just a blob.”

Hope, from Ave Maria, said it was refreshing to be surrounded by so many like-minded teens from across the country. She said she would not forget her experience. “Seeing so many people show up to support the pro-life approach was so exciting and encouraging. It definitely showed me that I’m not alone in trying to encourage people to have a pro-life approach.”

The Diocesan group also took part in a vigil Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. There, more than 20,000 pilgrims from around the nation gathered to pray for an end to abortion.

The morning of the march the group also took part in the youth rally and Mass for Life at Capital One Arena. The march took place on the National Mall and finished in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Afterward, some of the group delivered letters of support to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

Participation in the National March for Life is just one of many activities in support of life issues, which takes place in the Diocese throughout the year. On Jan. 22, the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children, there was a Prayer Walk for Life in Sarasota in front of the Planned Parenthood, the regional headquarters of the largest abortion provider in the nation.

The spring 40 Days for Life Campaign begins Ash Wednesday, March 6, and will be taking place in Sarasota, Port Charlotte, Fort Myers and Naples. Also in March is Catholic Days at the Capitol, a three-day trip to Tallahassee from March 26-28 where Diocesan representatives join others from around Florida in making a difference while visiting our state legislators. All are welcome to attend.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane will be attending the Catholic Days at the Capitol and leading Prayer Walk for Life, March 6 in Naples and March 8 in Port Charlotte. n

ENDNOTE: For details on these and other Respect Life activities taking place in the Diocese of Venice, contact Jeanne Berdeaux at or visit