Maria Angeles, 71, eagerly took part in the New York archdiocesan pilgrimage to the nation’s capital for this year’s March for Life. She is an avid supporter of protecting unborn children.
“I am against the killing of children, in any way—that is why I’m here,” Mrs. Angeles, a married mother of four and grandmother of five, said in Spanish during an interview Jan. 18 with Catholic New York, after attending a morning Mass before the march celebrated by Cardinal Dolan at St. Patrick’s Church in Washington, D.C.
“This is my fourth march…Children should be cared for, not killed. I take care of two granddaughters – I love them. I love all my grandchildren with all my heart…This cannot continue; we all need to defend life,” she said in a nearby restaurant, where members of her church group gathered after the liturgy. She and her husband, Jose, have been married for 49 years.
Mrs. Angeles was with a group from Holy Cross parish in the Bronx. Leading the group was Father Vincent Druding, a parochial vicar at Holy Cross, who noted, “I am horrified by the (New York state) Reproductive Healthcare Act. I went on Tuesday to Albany to lobby the senators and assemblymen—to plead for them not to do this.”
On a cold, sunny Friday in Washington, first there was the musical opening, then the rally and later the march—all to help bring awareness to the mission of protecting life in all stages. The 46th annual March for Life drew an estimated 200,000 people from throughout the nation.
Cardinal Dolan, during his homily, expressed dismay over a law passed this month in New York state that counters the Church’s mission to protect life starting with conception. (The Reproductive Health Act, which greatly expands access to abortion, was passed by the state Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo Jan. 22.)
The cardinal also offered words of hope, faith and encouragement.
“Can I tell you how very proud I am of all of you—to march for the civil rights of the baby in the mother’s womb?” the cardinal said. “Thanks to all who are here, especially our beloved Sisters of Life...We are united in faith.”
The cardinal added, “That’s what we will be in a couple of hours in the march – united in faith, for the baby in the womb; united in faith that the pregnant woman deserves all the support and love that she needs…Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.”
As for critics of the pro-life cause, the cardinal, alluding to the words of St. Paul, said, “They don’t like us; we love them. They curse us; we bless them. They mock us; we pray for them.”
The theme of this year’s march was “Unique From Day One: Pro-Life Is Pro-Science.” The focus was on scientific discoveries leading to new understanding about life in the womb.
Among the rally speakers were Carl Anderson, the supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus; Abby Johnson, a one-time Planned Parenthood clinic director; and Ben Shapiro, a political commentator.
Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise appearance and offered supportive remarks. President Trump spoke via video, also with words of support.
Ms. Johnson is founder of And Then There Were None, a ministry that assists abortion clinic workers who have left their positions. The pilgrims from the Archdiocese of New York totaled about 1,800, more than in recent years, according to archdiocesan organizers, who included coordinators from the Respect Life Office and the Office of Hispanic Ministry.
Sister Virginia Joy, S.V., director of the Respect Life Office, said, “I’m thrilled that so many came for the pilgrimage—all these men and women, and young people and older people. They are here to stand on behalf of the sacredness of all human life.”
Mary Togher, 53, a parishioner of St. Patrick’s in Yorktown Heights, who was marching on Constitution Avenue, said she was participating “to support the pro-life movement. Every life is important.” She was with her son Matthew, 18, who said, “I think abortion is murder. We need to protect children, even before they’re born.”
Marching with the archdiocesan group was Laura Gralton, 46, a parishioner of Sacred Heart in Monroe. “I’ve been in the march at least a dozen times,” she noted as she marched on Constitution Avenue.
“This is beautiful—it’s wonderful meeting so many people.”
Teresa Grasso, 49, a parishioner of St. Columba in Chester, told CNY she has attended the march eight to 10 times, “because I have to stand up for the unborn babies. I listened to all the (rally) speakers. I can’t even believe that abortion still exists with all that is known about science.”
She said she appreciated the words of Anderson and other speakers who said that faith and science are both on the side of the March for Life cause.
As he marched with his mostly teenage pilgrimage group, Father James Cruz, pastor of St. Raymond parish in the Bronx, said he was leading them “so they can realize the disgrace that is abortion, and what is going on in this country. And they need to see that we’re not alone in the struggle.”
Brianna Nelthrope, 17, St. Columba parish in Hopewell Junction, said, “I felt called to be here today. My mom had me when she was young. She had family support – and she decided to keep me.”
“I truly believe that everyone has a right to be born. I’m here for the unborn,” said Blad Peña, 18, St. Peter and St. Mary of the Assumption parish in Haverstraw.
Ericka Nelson, 33, Blessed Sacrament parish in New Rochelle, said, “This is my sixth march. Women need to have a community of people who support them in this. I march because of the lie that there is nobody there to offer support; and I march for the children.”