By Anne Marie Amacher
Catholics from the Diocese of Davenport who attended the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 23 described the experience as touching, great and awesome.
Charlie Burke of St. Joseph Parish in DeWitt has attended the national march for about 15 years.
“It’s a touching experience to see so many young people there,” he said afterward. Burke and his wife, Joan, attended the vigil Mass Jan. 22 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. “It was more than jam packed,” he said. Burke was impressed with Cardinal Daniel DiNardo’s homily urging the young people present not to be compromised in their dedication to the protection of each human person, born and unborn. Burke attended Mass again at the basilica the morning of Jan. 23 thinking it wouldn’t be crowded. “It was packed again. It was standing room only as well.” He also visited with members of Congress to promote a ban on so-called “telemed” abortions and to object to the Health and Human Services mandate on health care coverage for contraception and sterilization services.
During the march it rained lightly, so “we offered sacrifice by walking in the rain,” Burke said. He thought the number of marchers might have been down due to the rain, but thousands still marched.
On the bus ride to and from Washington D.C., sponsored by Dubuque County Right to Life, participants recited the rosary and shared their expectations and experiences with fellow riders. Recently retired school teacher Bill Grothus of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf was among the passengers, making his first trip to the March for Life. He described the experience as “great.” One of his goals in life had been to attend this event. “And I did it.” Attending the vigil Mass at the basilica “was quite the experience — especially with the procession being over 40 minutes long.” The next day he attended morning Mass at St. Joseph Parish. “There were a lot going to Mass there, too.”
Preparing for the march, Grothus said he grabbed a sign he’d brought with him and followed a group of seminarians. He got to listen to the speakers before the march began, but then had a long wait before actually getting to walk. Throughout the march, people chanted and recited the rosary and Divine Mercy pamphlets were being passed out. At the end of the route, in front of the Supreme Court, a group of women spoke about their regret at having had an abortion. As he went by, Grothus blessed them and encouraged them for speaking out on abortion. “It was tremendous to be with so many pro-life people. And the speakers were great.” He’d like to participate again in the future, “but not on a bus.”
Connie Goldsmith of St. Thomas More Parish in Coralville and her daughter Corrigan, who attends youth ministry at St. Mary Parish in Solon, participated in the march with five others from the Solon area.
“It was fabulous. It was awesome,” Connie Goldsmith said. The group attended the vigil Mass at the basilica. “I was in the downstairs chapel. The kids went upstairs. I felt it was important for them to be upstairs. It was a fabulous Mass.” The next day they also attended Mass at St. Joseph’s.
Goldsmith estimates that more than half of the people at the march were youths ages 22 and younger. She guessed a number of marchers to be 75 years or older, with the rest between the two age groups.
The march’s pace was slow due to the large number of people. “There were lots of prayers being said. High school kids were doing cheers. Bands were playing,” Goldsmith added.
When the Solon group reached the Supreme Court they heard women talk about abortions and not having been educated about the effects abortion could have on them. As for a future march, Goldsmith said, “I would go back in a heartbeat.”