Pro-life activists from throughout the Diocese of Wilmington are making plans to converge on Washington, D.C., on Jan. 22 for the 41st annual March for Life to protest the continuing availability of legal abortion in the United States.
In the Diocese of Wilmington, abortion is still legal and available in Delaware and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, but the director of the diocesan Respect Life Office is optimistic as Roe v. Wade drifts one more year into history.
“I think there continues to be considerable positive energy throughout the pro-life movement. Even though there aren’t many advances on the legal front, we look at the polls and they seem to be climbing on the pro-life front,” Father Leonard Klein said.
In Delaware, campaigns such as the 40 Days for Life in Wilmington and Dover have brought attention to the movement, as the conviction of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia, Father Klein said. (Gosnell operated a clinic in Wilmington that has since closed.)
The 40 Days for Life campaign “has opened a new front here in the Diocese of Wilmington and Dover. It’s also opened up some ecumenical cooperation in the movement,” Father Klein said.
He said enthusiasm for the cause has not dampened even as the Roe decision marked its 40th anniversary last year. Area pro-life veterans “are as committed as they ever have been,” and reports of growing numbers of young people at the March for Life are encouraging.
“If anything, the numbers have grown at the March for Life. We still struggle with the news media virtually ignoring it,” Father Klein said.
He will not be at the march but will celebrate a pro-life Mass at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Wilmington Jan. 22 at 12:10 p.m. For those who wish to attend the march in Washington but do not want to drive, there are several options. A list of buses to the march follows, along with related activities locally and in Washington.
Delaware Right to Life is sponsoring a bus that will leave the Christiana Mall park and ride at 10 a.m. and will depart from the district at 6 p.m. The cost is $25 per person, $35 per family. Children under 12 ride for free. For more information, contact Janet Grayson at (302) 661-1877 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Checks should be made payable to Delaware Right to Life and mailed to Grayson, 603 S. Broom St., Wilmington, DE 19805.
Church of the Holy Child in Brandywine Hundred has a bus leaving from its parking lot at 2500 Naamans Road at 7 a.m. and will return by 7 p.m. The bus will arrive in Washington in time for riders to attend the 10 a.m. Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The cost is $25, and the contact person is Nancy Frick, email@example.com or (302) 893-1039.
Holy Cross Parish in Dover will have at least one bus leave from its campus on Jan. 22 after the 8 a.m. Mass, and it will return at 7 p.m. For more information, contact Ken Smith at (302) 674-1704.
The Pro-Life Group at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Georgetown and its mission, Mary, Mother of Peace in Millsboro, will hold a litany for life and a rosary for life after the 9 a.m. Mass for those unable to go to Washington. Also, the organization “We Stand for Life” will be placing 55 white crosses on the lawns of both churches throughout January to remember the more than 55 million babies killed by abortion since Roe v. Wade.
A bus will leave from St. Jude the Apostle Parish in Lewes after the 7:30 a.m. Mass. The bus will stop for dinner. For more information, call Joan at (302) 227-3580.
The Knights of Columbus will sponsor a bus that will make two stops on the mid-shore in Maryland. The first stop will be at Chesapeake College at 10:15 a.m., and the second at St. Christopher’s Church on Kent Island at 10:30. There is no cost for this bus. To reserve seats on this bus, contact Lori Parks at St. Benedict’s Parish in Ridgely, Md., at (410) 634-2253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further south, a bus will stop at St. Luke’s in Ocean City, Md., at 7 a.m. and St. John Neumann in Berlin, Md., at 7:30. It is expected back around 8:30 p.m. Children between 10-18 must be accompanied by an adult. For more information, call Bill McGarrity at (410) 641-7592.
There are several ancillary events in Washington the day before and the day of the march. Information about those is available at marchforlife.org/march-with-us/related-events.
Youth from the diocese will be well represented at the march. Students from St. Elizabeth High School, Ursuline Academy, Ss. Peter and Paul High School, Padua Academy, Archmere Academy, St. Mark’s High School and St. Thomas More Academy will be there, those schools have confirmed. Archmere and St. Elizabeth each expect about 35 students to go; signups are ongoing at the other schools.
A related activity that has been a popular destination for diocesan youth is the Youth Mass and Rally for Life at the Verizon Center the morning of the rally. Bishop Malooly will concelebrate the Mass. Each year, the diocese distributes several hundred tickets to schools and parish youth groups.
Locally, the Wilmington March for Life will take place Jan. 17 from noon-1 p.m. beginning at Rodney Square. Delaware Right to Life will lead marchers to the Planned Parenthood clinic at Seventh and Shipley streets. Signs will be provided. Although metered street parking is available, carpooling is recommended. For more information, contact Ana Maria Gomez at email@example.com.
On the day of the national march, Holy Savior Church on Coastal Highway in Ocean City, Md., will hold a day of prayer from 8:30 a.m.-noon. The day will include Mass, continental breakfast, a guest speaker, the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy, a rosary for life, and benediction at noon. Reserve a spot by calling Donna at (410) 289-0652 by Jan. 17.
Living examples of those lost to abortion at Milford memorial Mass
By Gary Morton Special to The Dialog MILFORD – When Cathi Riddle leads a procession of up to 41 people to the altar at St. John the Apostle Church on Sunday, she will represent an estimated 744,000 people who are unable to attend.
They died by abortion in 1973, the year that Riddle was born and the year that abortions became legal in the United States following the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.
The remaining 40 people in the processional opening the 11 a.m. Mass will represent those babies aborted the year they were born from 1974 through this year — as many as 1.6 million babies.
Each person will carry a single red rose symbolizing those who were aborted in the year they were born. The roses will be placed at the altar.
“It’s a way to recognize those who lost their lives to abortion, and to honor them,” said Riddle, president of the Pro-Life Committee for St. John and its sister church, St. Bernadette in Harrington.
Sunday’s observance comes three days before the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision of Jan. 22, 1973. The parish also will participate in the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., on the anniversary date. As of Tuesday the Pro-Life Committee had a few vacant years left to be filled, but Riddle is confident they will be covered.
“The hardest ages are the older ones, those in their late 20s or early 30s,” she said.
As the procession progresses from 1973 to 2014, the age of those walking down the aisle of St. John’s will decrease in age. Younger children – toddlers and pre-school – will be carried or accompanied by a parent as they carry a rose to the altar, Riddle said. The final person will be a pregnant parishioner whose unborn child will represent those who will die through abortion this year.
“It seems more powerful to end with the younger ones,” Riddle said.
An announcement will be made before the procession explaining why it will be longer than normal. Kathleen McCusker, a member of the Pro-Life Committee, believes the event will have a strong impact.
“Catholics recognize most acutely the solemn symbolism of our actions,” she said. “The measured procession of just 41 parishioners approaching the altar before the servers and the priest will remind all of both the enormity of the number of lives taken and the tragedy of tolerance of abortion in our country.
St. John’s has held similar processions in the past, but the most recent was several years ago, Riddle said. She brought the idea with her from Irving, Texas, where the Milton native once lived. She had participated in a similar procession at her parish there.
“It’s a small thing we can do, the least we can do,” she said.