WASHINGTON, D.C. — Several ministries from the Province attended the March for Life in Washington on Jan. 22. Held just two days after the inauguration, the march protested the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
Groups from the St. Bonaventure University Ministries for Life in Allegany, N.Y.; St. Anthony of Padua Church in Camden, N.J.; and St. Camillus Church and Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Md., participated in some way.
The group of 11 SBU students, with adviser Peter Schneible, OFM, drove to Washington on Jan. 21, attended Mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at The Catholic University, and stayed with friars at St. Camillus Church in Silver Spring, Md.
The group from St. Anthony, led by William“Jud” Weiksnar, OFM, drove down the morning of the inauguration, and met at St. Camillus, in time for Mass and breakfast.
Students Rally for Right to Life
On the day of the march, the SBU group attended Mass at St. Camillus, where they were served breakfast by the Knights of Columbus. They then went on to participate in the rally on the National Mall and march to the Supreme Court. Afterwards, the group drove back to SBU in Western New York. Business professor Terry Moran and James Gatuku, a Secular Franciscan from Kenya, also attended.
“This is about the 14th year the group has participated,” said Peter. “I think that our taking part in the March is important as a sign to the new administration that this is an issue that will not go away and that needs to be addressed.”
The most touching moment, he said, came at the beginning of the march.
“Our group was gathered at the side of the street where the march began,” Peter said. “After police and various dignitaries passed, there was a group of women who had had abortions but were now protesting against the procedure. The surrounding crowd gave them a spontaneous, sustained and enthusiastic round of applause.”
He continued: “In 1973, I suspect that the pro-choice side thought that the issue had been decided. It is only concerted action by groups like ours that has kept this issue on the political agenda for 36 years. We must remain faithful to the pro-life cause, especially when the political forces seem to be against us.”
“This is vitally important as some seek to pass the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which will remove almost all restrictions on abortions and seek to force doctors and hospitals to provide abortions. Our participation is only part of what must be done. Education and prayer to change people’s hearts, and service to help pregnant women carry their babies, are also very important. But justice demands that we speak up against Roe vs. Wade and FOCA.”
Group from Camden ‘Choose Life’
With their “Choose Life” banner, the group from St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Camden, N.J., had a loud voice. Jud was quoted in a Chicago newspaper as saying about President Obama, “We don’t think he’s going to support overturning Roe v. Wade, but we do think he’s willing to work to reduce the number of abortions.” The paper was interested in hearing from Jud because he used to teach at Holy Trinity High School in Chicago.
Jud, shown in photo above, wrote to HNP Today that since 1990 he has participated in the march every year except twice. “For one I was in Peru, and the other I was sick,” he said.
“At St. Anthony, we think the march is important because we believe abortion is the taking of an innocent human life, and we want to be in solidarity with others who yearn for the day when our laws reflect our values. Also, because we see it as an opportunity to share the ‘seamless garment/consistent life ethic’ concept with the marchers who might not connect the abortion issue to other life issues.”
He continued: “We get, from the experience, a sense of pilgrimage, especially since many of us go year after year. We also enjoy connecting with friars and partners from other provincial ministries, especially St. Camillus, Holy Name College and St. Bonaventure University, and in past years, others.”