First Place Award for General Excellence, Catholic Press Association, 2013-2016

New Yorkers Inspired by What They Saw, Heard at March for Life
By DAN PIETRAFESA
CNS/Michael Reynolds, EPA
Constitution Avenue is filled with pro-life supporters headed toward the U.S. Supreme Court during the 45th annual March for Life in Washington D.C., Jan. 19.

Maureen Bubel participated in the first March for Life as a mother of young children and has returned almost every year since the first march in 1974.

The parishioner of St. Columba in Hopewell Junction was one of an estimated 100,000 participants at the 45th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., Jan. 19. The march’s theme was “Love Saves Lives.”

“It’s outstanding, unbelievable. It’s a whole different excitement to this,” said Ms. Bubel, a mother of six and grandmother of 16, in an interview with CNY.

Many of the marchers expressed enthusiasm about the pro-life position and sentiments expressed by President Donald Trump during his first year in the White House.

The good feelings did not erase the somber reality of more than 60 million abortions performed in the United States since the Supreme Court ruling in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion across the nation.

President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan were among the speakers at the rally on the National Mall before the march.

“My friends, life is winning in America because love saves lives, and know as you march for life, your compassion, your persistence, your activism and your prayers are saving lives and this pro-life generation should never doubt we’re with you,” Pence said before introducing the president.

Trump became the first sitting president to address the crowd via satellite from the White House.

“The March for Life is a movement born out of love,” Trump said. “You love your families, you love your neighbors, you love our nation, and you love every child, born and unborn, because you believe every life is sacred, that every child is a precious gift from God.”

Ryan followed the president, standing on the stage with pro-life members of Congress.

“I’ve been participating in the March for Life for years, and there’s one thing that always struck me and there’s one thing that strikes me again right now, and that is the vigor and enthusiasm of the pro-life movement,” Ryan said. “Looking out on this crowd, I can see there are people from all ages, all walks of life, but the young people here is what is so inspiring because it tells us that this is a movement on the rise.

“And do you know why the pro-life movement is on the rise? Because truth is on our side; life begins at conception. You know why the pro-life movement is on the rise, because science is on our side. And most importantly, the pro-life movement is on the rise because we have love on our side.”

The words from the politicians and stories related by other speakers at the rally inspired marchers and gave them hope.

“It’s a different feeling when you have a president who supports you. Everybody is so excited,’’ said Teresa Decarvalho, a parishioner of St. Columba who was marching with Ms. Bubel. “I love seeing all these young people here. When I came in the beginning, it was old people. Now look at this, it’s all young people. This is so beautiful.

“The babies bring me back every year. It’s so many people believing what you believe. How could this be wrong trying to save lives?”

Sister Virginia Joy, S.V., director of the archdiocese’s Respect Life Office, spent four days in the nation’s capital, attending pro-life events, including the rally and March for Life.

“It’s a time to fuel our enthusiasm and to see we are not alone. There is good hope for this mission,” she said.

Sister Virginia added that Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx sent 108 students, making a second bus necessary for the first time, and 26 eighth-graders from Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem also attended.

“They could not believe the number of people there who were believing and praying for the same thing,” said Stephanie Becker, principal of Our Lady Queen of Angels who made the trip with the eighth-grade class. “They came back feeling energized by the people they came in contact with to continue to fight for this incredible cause.

“We hope to do it again and expand it beyond our eighth-graders.”

Kelly Quinde, a 15-year-old sophomore at Peekskill High School, attended her second march with teens from the Assumption parish in Peekskill.

“I’m here to march against abortion and show there is another option,’’ she said. “I really did enjoy the rally because of all the stories I heard, and even hearing the president talk and give his opinion on this subject really meant a lot.”

Father Vincent Druding, parochial vicar at Assumption, was one of the adult chaperones for a group of 45 from the parish, including many teens, who attended a youth rally at George Mason University in Virginia on Thursday evening and a youth rally and Mass Friday morning at Capital One Arena in Washington before participating in the rally and March for Life. Thirty additional parishioners arrived on Friday morning for the rally and march.

“I’m absolutely just pleased at the youth and zeal of the pro-life movement,” said Father Druding, who said the teens are attempting to start a pro-life club at Peekskill High School.

Krismely Garcia took part in her fourth March for Life with a group of 18 on a bus from St. Elizabeth parish in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan.

“It was amazing to see a lot of people together for the same cause. We have to continue spreading the world to everyone, especially the youth,” she said.

Jim Dugandzic, a parishioner of Sacred Heart in Suffern, took a five-hour bus ride with about 25 people representing several parishes in Rockland County.

“It’s an important cause we need to change, and this year was an easy one because the weather was so beautiful,” he said. “Sometimes you’re wondering why you’re doing it, and you come down here and you realize you’re not the only ones. There are so many more.”

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