Hope fostered at March for Life

Diocese of Venice participants as seen during the 2017 National March for Life in Washington, D.C., Jan. 27, with Bishop Frank J. Dewane and Diocesan Vocations Director Father Eric Scanlan, far right. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Washington, D.C.
| The 2017 National March for Life Jan. 27 in Washington, D.C., may go down as a turning point in the pro-life movement as hope was prevalent. More than 450 marchers who represented the Diocese of Venice were there to witness history.

Led by Bishop Frank J. Dewane, the Diocesan group participated in each of the major activities associated with the National March for Life: Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception; a youth rally at the Verizon Center; participation in a Rally for Life on the National Mall; and finally taking part in the march to the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court with hundreds of thousands of others from across the nation.

They are in Washington every year to solemnly commemorate the tragic 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the case which opened the door for legalization of abortion in the United States, and to remember the more than 58 million Americans who have been lost to abortion.

Emmalee Brown of Epiphany Cathedral in Venice said the March for Life was “truly inspiring.”

“I felt proud and empowered being there and standing up for life with thousands of people,” she said.
“Being in the crowd and feeling the energy of the people was more amazing than what I had imagined it would be,” said first-timer Brandon Stalnaker of St. Raphael Parish in Lehigh Acres.

Andrew Herrera, also of St. Raphael, said participating in marches brings him gladness and sorrow. “Gladness because I march for those who can’t defend themselves, and sorrow because my brothers and sisters around the world are still dying from this terrible death.”

Sadie Callahan of Epiphany Cathedral has been to the march several times. “Each time I have attended the March for Life has served as a life-changing experience for me through which I have been able to peacefully advocate my strong belief that every human life is a gift.”

It was the fifth march for Sadie’s mother, Regina Callhan. “None of them have compared to the energy you could feel in the crowd, the presence of God and true hope for the future of this march. I see hope, determination and a fire for life in our youth.”

Bishop Dewane said he was inspired to see the enthusiasm of the youth and is confident that the pro-life movement is strong within the younger generation. “The young people know a large portion of their generation has been lost to abortion. This must end.”

The poignant experience of this March for Life comes with the realization the new president is pro-life. This was evidenced by the first-ever presence of a sitting vice president, Mike Pence, at the march. Also present was Kellyanne Conway, a key adviser to the president.

Several of the marchers who stayed in Washington into the weekend had an encounter with Conway after Mass at St. Patrick Church where they were all attending. The group thanked her for being at the march and even had time to get a group picture.

Also positive was news that Trump’s pick for Attorney General — Sen. Jeff Sessions — is adamantly pro-life. Just days after the March for Life, Trump named pro-life Judge Neil Gorsuch as the Supreme Court nominee.

Perhaps it was Paige Hardel of St. Agnes Parish in Naples who explained her reason for being in Washington the best: “We marched for those who couldn’t.”

To see photos and a list of parishes and priests who attended the March for Life, visit www.dioceseofvenice.org.