By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
The national March for Life — “the sea of people, all joyful and happy, singing and praying — all for the unborn and the sanctity of every human life … was spectacular to absorb,” said Deacon Chris Kabat of St. Wenceslaus Parish, Iowa City.
He, 13 students and three chaperones from the Iowa City area were among pro-life advocates who attended the march Jan. 20 in Washington, D.C. as part of Pulse Life Advocates (formerly Iowans for Life). The march took place just seven months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, two landmark cases that gave women the constitutional right to abortion.
The youths and their chaperones attended the opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Jan. 19 and walked in the March for Life on Jan. 20.
Invited by a friend to attend, Colin Olney of St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City booked the last seat on the bus trip. “I ended up going because it was something I had never done before.” A highlight of the trip for him was hearing everyone chant, “I love babies, how ’bout you?” Another indelible impression occurred a half-hour into the march. “I walked past a jumbotron playing and showing pictures of real-life abortions. I was absolutely disgusted. I have never seen anything like it. Anything that inhumane. Anything that evil. Those images are still in my head.”
He had intended to be an outsider looking in on the march but seeing the videos and the “love emitted from others” changed his perspective.
Arturo Albert Wirth of St. Wenceslaus said the music during Vigil for Life Mass amazed him, as did the number of people packed into the church. Monique Schnoebelen of St. Mary Parish in Iowa City chose to “stand up for life and to stand up to the lies that so many people have been tricked into believing. Abortion is murder. Period. This is why I marched for life.” Actor Jonathan Roumie’s talk impressed her. “His speech exceeded my expectation. His message was powerful and he really spoke to young people. His speech really impacted me and reminded me that God always wins.” She described the vigil Mass as awesome. “I felt like I was in heaven.”
Weston Steinbrech of St. Mary Parish in Solon said the march offered him an opportunity to grow in his relationship with God. He appreciated the peaceful organ music during the vigil Mass. The music “sounded like angels singing.”
Evan Loening of St. Wenceslaus appreciated the number of priests, deacons, bishops and religious sisters in attendance and seeing so many people from all over the United States and even from other nations at the march. Ian Udell of St. Mary Parish in Iowa City said he wanted to be a voice for the voiceless and to show that pregnant women are not alone in their struggle.
Johnson County Right to Life and several Iowa City parishes helped sponsor students on their journey.