In top photo, youth and young adults from Our Lady of Peace Parish, Williamstown stand in the Armory Station parking lot in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 22, before heading out to March for Life.
Twenty-three adults and 55 youth from St. Rose of Lima Parish in Haddon Heights attended the annual March for Life on Friday, Jan. 22, in Washington, D.C. The St. Rose group holds high their signs promoting life on the National Mall and make their presence felt.
Left photo by Stephanie Smaldore
WASHINGTON — The weather forecast called for a generous amount of rain and sleet on the morning of Friday, Jan. 22, but nothing of much concern materialized, and thus we didn’t have any trouble departing at 7 a.m. from St. Rose of Lima Parish in Haddon Heights. We were making our way to Washington, D.C., for the annual March for Life Rally.
Youth and chaperones, parish pastor Father Joseph Bylerley and parochial vicar Father Thanh Pham spread out among two busses, we traveled south, to mark the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decisions which legalized abortion in the United States. In joining thousands of others also participating in the walk from the National Mall to the Capitol Building, we hoped to raise awareness of the sanctity of all human life and put an end to a legal practice that, since its inception, has resulted in the abortion of over 40 million unborn children, with approximately 1.3 million abortions each year in the United States.
“We survived, so we should stand up for those being aborted,” said 15-year-old Bill Nather, a sophomore at Camden Catholic High School, Cherry Hill, and parishioner at St. Rose.
In the past (including this year), the parish has sent a bus to the March for Life. This year, however, it was decided that parish youth would get their own bus, to attend the rally.
“They are the future of the church, and the sacredness of human life is the human rights issue of the day,” remarked Deb Smaldore, director of religious education at St. Rose of Lima.
“These kids are post-Roe v. Wade children, and sometimes they are the most eloquent defenders of life, because they realize they could’ve been aborted if not for the love of their own mothers.”
“We want to give them good formation. They get a lot of contrary voices about what is true,” said Father Byerley. “We want to do our best to support our kids in understanding the value of life, and then when they learn it and accept it early on, it stays with them.”
Our first stop was Bethesda, Md., to attend the 10 a.m. Mass at The Church of the Little Flower before the march. With youth groups from as far away as New York, Florida, Alabama and even Texas at the Mass, it was clear, and heartening, to see how committed some people are to spreading the message of life.
After Mass, we traveled to the National Mall, arriving around 1 p.m., and began the march along Constitution Avenue, up to Capitol Hill to the Supreme Court building and Congress, carrying signs with messages such as “We Respect Life,” “Abortion Hurts Women,” and “Adoption the Loving Option.”
Among the sea of people (some estimates said the attendance was 200,000-plus), the march was a celebration of life. A drummer processed down the street, his beat reminding all of us that even the smallest child in the mother’s womb has a pulse.
Groups from Greensburg, N.C.; Merion Mercy Academy in Bala Cynwyd, Pa.; Arlington, Va.; and Tampa, Fla., crowded the streets. A teenage girl, sporting a pink shirt that said “Virginity Rocks,” started a chant, shouting, “We Choose What?” as all around here shouted back, “We Choose Life!”
A more somber group called the Genocide Awareness Project camped out on the sidewalk, alerting passing marchers to the wrongs of abortion. A speaker with a megaphone preached, while giant posters showing aborted fetuses surrounded him.
Reaching the end of the march, we were not tired, but energized, in speaking out for life along with hundred of thousands of other pro-life supporters. God truly helped us “walk and not (be weary).”
All told, the youth and chaperones all were glad to stand up for the unborn.
“A very big crowd,” said Evan Rosenheim, a seventh grader. “I’m hoping to come back (next year).”