Jill Boughton
Freelance Writer
January 11, 2019 // Diocese

Called to be a voice for the vulnerable

Jill Boughton
Freelance Writer

National march operations directed by St. Bavo alumna

“My inspiration for working with the March for Life has its roots in my life-affirming family of origin,” said Andrea DeLee, director of operations for the national March for Life, scheduled for Jan. 18 in Washington, D.C.

Andrea DeLee

DeLee grew up in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, attending St. Bavo Church, Mishawaka. The oldest of eight children of Phil and Monique DeLee, she remembers the “excitement, anticipation and joy of getting ready to welcome each new child into our family.” That lived experience pre-dated her political advocacy, but it makes her grateful to be a voice for “the most vulnerable among us: children in the womb.”

After graduating from Trinity School at Greenlawn, DeLee earned her undergraduate degree in bioethics at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. In that secular academic environment, she didn’t get much affirmation for her senior thesis on how viewing an ultrasound can impact a woman in the abortion-decision process. 

When DeLee learned that Catholic University of America’s Pontifical John Paul II Institute offered a master’s degree in marriage and family life, she jumped at the opportunity to learn how better to articulate her strong sense that life is a beautiful gift. It was as a student at the institute that she participated in her first national March for Life, in 2013.

Wanting to support parents in fulfilling their responsibility as the primary educators of their children, DeLee next sought Montessori training, then worked for four years in a Washington, D.C., Catholic school’s preschool and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program.

At every juncture, DeLee has entrusted her work as a young professional to the Virgin Mary under her favorite manifestation, Our Lady of Guadalupe — the apparition in which Mary is most clearly pregnant. She credits Our Lady with her present opportunity to “be part of making the womb a safer place in our country.”

DeLee assumed her current full-time position last June. As director of operations, she organizes and oversees the daily business of the nonprofit organization, from coordinating volunteers to leading staff meetings.

Through prayer and brainstorming, the team chose the theme for this year’s March: “Unique from Day One: Pro-Life Is Pro-Science.” Many of the speakers will be physicians.

DeLee knows first-hand how science fascinates young people, and a great many youth will be among the 100,000 participants in this year’s March. “That’s a source of hope for all of us,” she declared.

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