Made in the image and likeness of God, every life matters.
That is the simple, yet overpowering message carried by the faithful during two marches for life in mid-January – one nationally in Washington, D.C., the other locally in Ave Maria.
Unified in their support for life, both rallies brought forth people both young and old, but mostly young people of high school and college ages. The enthusiasm of the participants in the marches was not diminished by the weather, during a Jan. 19, 2024, snowstorm in D.C., or on Jan. 20, a chilly and blustery day in Florida.
All who took part in the marches (tens of thousands in D.C., and more than 1,300 in Ave Maria) returned home invigorated to carry the Pro-Life message out into the world.
“We have the obligation to be that witness, and give that testimony for life,” said Bishop Frank J. Dewane during the Ave Maria march, which included faithful from throughout the Diocese, as well as groups from the Archdiocese of Miami and Diocese of Orlando. “We gather as people for a culture of life. The struggle to address abortion is often dragged into the political arena, but it is not a political problem; it is a moral problem – a deep and serious one. It is deeply a moral problem in our society today. That is the arena from which we must address abortion.”
Bishop Dewane said we must continue to speak up for life, even while there have been positive gains, such as the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court Dobbs decision which overturned Roe V. Wade. Even in Florida, with a 15-week ban on abortion, scheduled to soon become a 6-week ban, the gains are threatened by those who don’t cherish the value of life.
The Bishop explained that the positive gains previously noted are being directly threatened by a proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution which would essentially allow abortions, for any reason, until birth.
“This is a very dangerous amendment and something we must all be aware of and watch out for if it ends up on the November ballot,” Bishop Dewane said. “We need to rise up as one voice and say no to this amendment.”
Meanwhile, more than 200 from the Diocese of Venice took part in the National March for Life in Washington. The crowd was so large that the procession to the National Mall lasted more than three hours, in a snowstorm.
Among the larger groups in D.C. were representatives from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, St. Michael Parish in Wauchula, Ave Maria University and the Ave Maria School of Law. Diocesan seminarians from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach and Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts, also participated with their respective schools.
Several of the Diocesan high school students remarked upon their return that they were proud to be part of the National March for Life and they will continue to support the Pro-Life movement going forward until abortion is no more. They say they would also tell their friends about their experiences of being among so many like-minded teens who all have a passion about promoting a Culture of Life.
Father Eric Scanlan, Pastor at Incarnation Parish, went to Washington with students from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School. There, the group prayed outside the national headquarters of Planned Parenthood, the largest group of abortionists in the U.S. They also participated in a Vigil Mass, Jan. 18, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. The morning of the National March, the group participated in the Life Fest at the D.C. Armory.
“It is always an emotional experience to participate in the March for Life,” said Father Scanlan, having participated for the past several years. “The best part is how the students respond. They are among thousands of others their own age who are also passionate about life. They carry the Pro-Life message home with them in their heart.”
The effort to protect life does not end with the marches. Starting Feb. 14, Ash Wednesday, and continuing through Lent, there will three 40 Days for Life spring campaign locations within the Diocese (Fort Myers, Naples, and Sarasota). During the campaign, the faithful will stand in peaceful prayer to end abortion. For more details, please visit https://www.40daysforlife.com/en/.
If you would like to learn more about the Respect Life issues and how you can be a witness for life, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/respectlife.