It takes more than a polar vortex to stop the Pro-Life Movement. Over 300 people from Western New York bundled up and joined 20,000 others from all walks of life and faith backgrounds to tell the world abortion will not be tolerated.
As temperatures dipped to a frigid 10 degrees, they marched down the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 22, carrying signs and chanting for their cause. Masses and guest speakers offered support, facts and words of advice to carry the marchers in their work when they return home.
At the vigil Mass held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Boston's archbishop, Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, OFM Cap., specifically addressed some of the things pro-lifers are doing right here in Western New York to help the cause. He spoke of his gratitude for the workers, volunteers and supporters of crisis pregnancy centers.
"We have the St. Gianna Pregnancy Outreach where we are helping people who are in a situation where they feel stressed and we give them hope and help so that they can bring life into the world," said Cheryl Calire, director of the diocesan Office for Pro-Life Activities. "I think that was a real key piece for the Western New Yorkers who were there. We felt very affirmed in our work and what we were doing."
Adoption served as the theme this year.
"We are trying to bring across that it is a noble choice," Calire said. "It is a beautiful thing for a young mother to think about in her discerning, what she's going to do about her unplanned pregnancy, to consider the possibility of bringing that life into the world so that somebody else might have the opportunity to have a child, to raise a family, and to give life to that baby."
During a breakfast Mass, just before the march, guest speaker Janet Morana, Ph.D., executive director of Priests for Life and author of "Recall Abortion," spoke on the Silent No More awareness campaign.
The campaign makes the public aware of the devastation abortion brings to women and men by having women sharing their stories of regret after having abortions. Morana brought former Miss West Virginia, Jackie Stalnaker, to tell her personal story.
"When people feel that this is just a bunch of people trying to cram their beliefs down other people's throats, the Silent No More campaign is women who have decided to break their silence, so to speak, about their own personal experiences with having an abortion, and letting the public and people know first hand from their testimony why they feel Roe v. Wade should be overturned," Calire said.
Father Scott Daniels, OP, from the Priests for Life, spoke on the dignity of the human person, stating being pro-life is more than just opposing abortion.
The Pro-Life Movement has been in existence from the day after the Roe v. Wade decision was cast. Nellie Gray, a Roman Catholic convert, founded the March for Life in 1974.
Calire thinks 2013 has been a triumphant year for the movement. Many abortion clinics have closed, and some states have passed laws restricting late-term abortions and abortions without parental consent.
"Some states are making great progress," she said.
To keep the momentum going, the Office for Pro-Life Activities will hold a banquet Wednesday, Feb. 12, at Classics V in Amherst to support Buffalo's St. Gianna Molla Pregnancy Center.
"It's a great way to support the efforts that Pope Francis is talking about, that Cardinal O'Malley was talking about in his homily, which is actually reaching out directly to those who are in need and help them make a hopeful, helpful choice for life, to think about adoption as an option, to think about both the life of the mother and the life of the child," Calire said.