By KATIE BORKOWSKI
Youth and adults from the Diocese of Sioux City marched for life on Jan. 27 in Washington, D.C.
Groups from Algona Bishop Garrigan, Carroll Kuemper and Fort Dodge St. Edmond traveled to the March for Life. The theme for this year’s march was The Power of One.
The Carroll and Fort Dodge groups left on a bus on Jan. 25 to head to D.C. The group of 22 from St. Edmond included 15 students and seven chaperones. The group from Carroll included 25 Kuemper students, three other students and three chaperones from Kuemper.
According to Father Patrick Behm, chaplain, St. Edmond has traditionally taken a group of students to the march every other year. Father Behm noted this is an educational opportunity “for the students to see what a political demonstration is all about in our country.”
“In our society, people do have a voice,” said the priest. “We want them to be exposed to that. It also draws attention to the voiceless. The unborn children who have no voice need us to speak for them. It is a very powerful witness to have young people there, because they are the ones who have survived – in a real sense – Roe v. Wade.”
On the day of the March for Life, the group went to the National Guard Armory for Mass celebrated by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, former bishop of the Diocese of Sioux City, and the Rally for Life. They experienced music, prayers and the rosary with thousands of marchers.
Then it was time to head to the Washington Monument where the march was scheduled to start. They were addressed by several pro-life speakers including Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York City, Benjamin Watson, a former NFL player; Joni Ernst, Iowa congresswoman; Mia Love, Utah congresswoman; Kellyanne Conway, senior counselor to President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
St. Edmond junior Katie Finnegan said hearing from the speakers, especially the vice-president, was something she will remember from the march.
“It was really cool that he (Pence) came because it shows we have support now in Washington and I think some big things are going to be happening,” said Finnegan. “The main message (of the speakers) was life is starting to win. Overall there was a big sense of hope and optimism for what’s to come.”
Kara Bentz, assistant director of youth and young adult ministry, was a chaperone for the Fort Dodge group. As the pro-life coordinator, Bentz said, it was wonderful “to experience this event and do so with the youth of our diocese.”
“The March for Life does not represent an exclusive movement,” she added. “It is a tremendously inclusive march. There were people from all religions and backgrounds at this march standing up for life. I saw signs from Atheists for Life, LGBT communities for life, Feminists for Life and many others. Regardless of religious beliefs, the right-to-life is something that all people are marching to fight for.”
Ryan Waller, a senior at St. Edmond, has been pro-life for as long as he can remember and was excited to participate in the march.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity to stand up for what I believe in,” he said. “It was encouraging to see so many people and not just the same type of people are passionate about the lives of unborn children.”
For Waller, the most memorable part of the march was going up on the hill before “the turn for the Supreme Court. It was like a sea of people. I have never seen that many people in my life. It was amazing to see.”
Jenny Bowden, a teacher associate, was one of the chaperones for the Kuemper group. This was her second time going to the March for Life, each time was with one of her daughters. A group from Kuemper usually goes to the march every year.
“I think it is so amazing to see so many people with the same pro-life convictions as we have all gathered in one place to show support,” said Bowden. “Often on the news and media, it is hard to see that there is so much support for life. The pro-choice voice (from celebrities, politicians, et cetera) frequently drowns out any other opinions. But here, those opinions were loud and clear and heard by thousands.”
Bowden hopes this trip inspired the younger generation “to take actions, speak out and continue to stand for life, at all stages.”
For the first time, a group of more than 40 including school staff, board members, parents and 35 students from Bishop Garrigan and area churches were able to attend the rally and march this year. The group was thankful to a donor who provided the charter bus for the trip.
“Taking our students to the Right to Life March proved to be an amazing event,” said Jake Rosenmeyer. “As one of Garrigan’s religion teachers and also the pastoral director, I was glad to be able to give my students this opportunity.”
Rosenmeyer commented the trip was a pilgrimage experience and students were able to pray and interact with other people along the way.
“Standing up for the unborn was a great way for our students to be a part of an important social justice issue,” he said. “As a Catholic school, we need to work to continue giving our students every single chance we can to have new experiences such as this.”
Lynn Miller, president of Bishop Garrigan Schools, sensed the “extra excitement” of having the vice president speak. He said traveling with the students and seeing their “excitement and commitment to the pro-life movement instills hope for the future.”
Garrigan senior Logan Capesius thought it was “very cool” to be part of a movement protesting “the injustice of abortion in the United States of America.”
“Some of my friends and I have even talked about coming back to our nation’s capital for future March for Life rallies,” said the Bode St. Joseph parishioner. “Next time, however, it will be for a victory celebration.”
Carolyn Hough, a freshman and Algona St. Cecelia parishioner, loved everything about the trip and “doing something for a great cause. I was marching for life. Supporting the voiceless.”
“The trip was an amazing experience,” said Taylor Becker, a senior and Bancroft St. John parishioner. “Marching for our belief to end abortion was a great way not only to minister the love of God to this country but also push our own personal faith with Jesus.”