Southwest Kansans take to the streets of Washington, D.C.
By CARLEIGH ALBERS
Diocese of Dodge City
Thousands of people from around the United States gathered in Washington D.C. on Jan. 19 on the National Mall to peacefully protest against abortion in the 45th annual March for Life. Out of those thousands of protestors standing up for dignity of the unborn were 26 from the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City.
“We have become a culture of death with abortions, euthanasia, infanticide, physician assisted suicide, and much more,” said Jaclyn Brown, Director of Religious Education and Youth Ministry for Prince of Peace Parish in Great Bend.
“The dignity of the human person has been lost. Fortunately, the Catholic Church has stood up for the dignity of all human life from conception to natural death.”
This is the second year that Brown has coordinated a bus trip for the March for Life. After serving as the Coordinator of the Respect Life office for the Diocese of Salina, Brown witnessed a need for the diocese to represent itself in the pro-life movement.
“The Roe v. Wade decision is not just a Catholic Church issue, it is an issue that affects every single human being whether directly or indirectly,” Brown said. “As someone had put it to me a long time ago, these 60 million citizens could have been our future priests, maybe someone’s future spouse, a best friend, the one to find a cure for cancer, etc…. This has been my eighth pilgrimage to Washington, D.C. This pilgrimage is something that should not be taken lightly. The March for Life is a life-changing experience, because there are people who don’t realize what the Roe v Wade ruling has done to our U.S. population. We have aborted more than 60 million U.S. citizens who are missing since the ruling in 1973.”
The speakers at the march consisted of Paul Ryan, speaker of the house, Pam Tebow, mother of the former Major League Football player Tim Tebow, Sister Bethany Madonna of the Sisters for Life, Archbishop of Washington, William E. Lori, former NFL player Matt Birk, and more. However, the most notable speaker was President Donald Trump.
Trump made history by being the first sitting president to address the March for Life via live video feed. The president stated that he was “honored and proud” to be addressing the march this year. “The March for Life is a movement born out of love,” Trump said.
According to Gallup, only 18 percent of Americans believe that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. Forty percent believe that abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. Forty-six percent of people call themselves “pro-life”.
“I think the pro-life movement is quite strong in the United States, when it comes to abortion, specifically speaking,” said Luke Blair, pastoral assistant at Prince of Peace in Great Bend who attended the march for the first time this year. “I would like to see it become a nonpartisan issue that focuses on all issues of life, as the mantra says, ‘from conception to natural death’, including the care of the ‘least among these’ as Jesus speaks of in the Gospel of Matthew.”
The group that attended consisted of pilgrims from Great Bend, Marienthal, Leoti, Ellinwood, La Crosse, Hoisington, and Dodge City. Along with marching for life they also attended other sites such as the National Shrine of John Paul II, the Smithsonian museums, the “Life is VERY good” rally hosted by the Diocese of Arlington, and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. They also attended Mass before the march at Nativity Catholic Church with others from Kansas, including Archbishop Nauman of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, who presided over the Mass.
“My experience at this year’s March for Life was definitely a positive one!” Blair said. “I had never been on the March before, so it was a new experience. It was amazing to hear the testimonies of so many people who, in some way, have contributed to the pro-life movement. It was amazing seeing so many young people—especially from my alma mater, Benedictine College—participating in Mass so joyfully.”
The pro-life movement doesn’t stop when people return home.
“There are tons of things that people can do in their hometowns to support the pro-life movement,” Brown said. “One thing that comes out every year from the USCCB is Respect Life Sunday. It is the first Sunday of October. People have stood out in the public square standing up for life. There are organizations such as Birthright or Catholic Charities that are always accepting baby items to give away to expectant mothers. Baby showers are pretty popular and easy to do for these organizations. Prayer is probably the most important. Praying a rosary, visiting the tomb of the unborn, praying for our government and church leaders. The possibilities are endless.”
After coordinating two of the cross-country treks, Brown said she is ready to pass the baton.
“Right now, I am praying for someone to step up and take charge of the trip next year,” Brown said. “It was hard to leave my son and husband behind. I want to eventually take my son on this trip but not sure that next year is the right time for us. There were groups that joined other dioceses for this trip. I want to see this trip continue for the diocese, but feel at this time, I need to step back and take care of my family and other priorities at the parish.”