WASHINGTON When Diana Nunez, a young adult from St. Anthony Parish in Passaic, sent out an Instagram post Jan. 22 about the 42nd March for Life here, she posted a picture of a massive crowd of marchers with the caption “#Team Life.”
She was part of the tens of thousands of people, who consider themselves “Team Life” from all across the nation who expressed their opposition to abortion and the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized it.
Nunez, who also works at diocesan Catholic Charities Hispanic Information Center in Passaic, said, “I’m here because I used to think it was OK to be ‘pro-choice’ but then I learned by being active in my church there is no such thing as being pro-choice when it comes to abortion. Babies are being killed everyday.”
This year, it appeared the marchers were predominately college and high school age students along with priests and religious, families with small children and members of Knights of Columbus councils from around the country. With the heavy presence of young people, social media sites such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, were filled with photos and messages about the March. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also invited participants to visit its social media accounts to see all those stepping forward for the protection of all life.
Even Pope Francis sent a message via his Twitter account on the morning of the annual March, “Every Life is a Gift. #marchforlife.” It was retweeted 18,807 times and liked 24,265 times.
From the Paterson Diocese, hundreds of the faithful boarded buses for the five-hour road trip to take the pro-life message to the halls of Congress and beyond leaving from locations in all three counties of the diocese as early as 6 a.m. Many of the laypersons, who attended early morning Mass before the bus trip began, used a vacation day or personal time off to attend the March.
In Washington, right before the massive March, some diocesan marchers attended Mass at St. Peter Church on Capitol Hill celebrated by Father Michael Rodak, pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in the Hewitt section of West Milford. He also serves as diocesan pilgrimage director. Leading a group from Queen of Peace and neighboring communities, Father Rodak said in his welcome to the congregation, “Today, we come together to be a voice for the voiceless.”
He continued with the theme of speaking up for the child in the womb so they have a chance to live and not be aborted in his homily reflecting on the day’s Scripture readings.
Father Rodak said, “We march today for those in the womb who have not had the opportunity to speak. They have not seen the light of day, have not had the opportunity to speak, have not had the opportunity to praise God and tell other people about who He is.”
Father Rodak told the congregation about the “awesome gift to speak” that they were given. “The Apostles went out to speak of the Father. We are called to do the same and called to speak about the respect for life. We are called to love God and love our neighbor.”
To the marchers, he said, “Being pro-life, you are a very special group of people. You were called by God to be engulfed by the Holy Spirit to walk for life. Many of you are making many sacrifices to be here. We will join with thousands and thousands of people to say, ‘Life does matter.’ This is a day of sacrifice but also a day of joy. May you all go forward and may we pray for a change of hearts.”
Following the Mass, the diocesan contingent began to take part in the March. Attending the March for her fourth time was Marla Martinez, administrative assistant at St. Paul’s Inside the Walls in Madison. She said, “I want to be here again and again and again because it is important we stand up for life and the more than 40 million babies that have been killed by abortion.”
Also marching was Bruce DeMolli, of Our Lady of the Holy Angels in Little Falls and state secretary of the Knights of Columbus. This was his fourth time participating in the March. “For the knights,” he said, “showing our support for life is one of our most important ministries and we need to send out the pro-life message. Of course, we would never demean a women’s choice but when it comes to abortion there is no choice, only life. If a baby is unwanted or a woman is experiencing hardships she will always have help available during her pregnancy and she can always put her child up for adoption.”
Noting the Declaration of Independence, DeMolli said, “Being in our nation’s capital, I am reminded about our Declaration of Independence, which states, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’ We need to continuously stand up for that and help create a culture of life.”