This article was updated Dec. 16, 2020, to reflect changing details about the events.
Forty-eight years after Roe v. Wade, pro-life supporters will continue the tradition of marches for life, even though this year that means no trip to Washington, D.C.
Turning lemons into lemonade is what’s happening across north-central and northeastern Indiana as local alternatives to the Jan. 29 National March for Life in Washington, D.C., are now confirmed.
The impacts and risks of COVID-19, the restrictions and guidelines were enough to cancel the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend’s Youth Ministry trip to the national march. That usually consisted of some 10 buses carrying 50 students each, according to John Pratt, the director of youth ministry.
“Instead, our pilgrimage efforts will focus on local participation in right-to-life events,” Pratt told Today’s Catholic. “We are inviting participation from our students and their families.” Events scheduled in Fort Wayne, South Bend, Elkhart and Goshen will follow all COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines.
There are five events across the region and several ways to participate, including prayer sponsorships or simply tuning in to the radio.
Fort Wayne will see two marches for life on back-to-back Saturdays in January. Saturday, Jan. 16, the “Moving the Movement” Midwest tour brings a drive-in rally to Concordia Theological Seminary, 6600 N. Clinton St. Starting at 4 p.m. in the parking lot near the soccer fields, this in-vehicle rally is co-hosted by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and Right to Life of Northeast Indiana and is sponsored by March for Life Chicago. The event’s speakers will be broadcast on Redeemer Radio, 106.3 FM. The event also includes a diaper drive, with a donation goal of 130,094 diapers, the average total number of annual abortions in the Midwest.
More details about the event can be found at https://marchforlifechicago.org/tour.
The following Saturday, Jan. 23, a rally at noon inside the University of Saint Francis Performing Arts Center at 431 W. Berry St. will be followed by a march through downtown Fort Wayne at 1 p.m. The rally will begin with a prayer offered by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades. The keynote speaker will be Mark Vandersteeg, brother-in-law to deceased abortionist Ulrich Klopfer.
For more information, visit www.ichooselife.org/marchnortheastin.
Bishop Rhoades will also attend two other local pro-life events, one in South Bend and the other in Elkhart, on Jan. 29 and 30 respectively.
From noon to 1 p.m. Jan. 29, outside the Federal Courthouse at 204 S. Main St. in downtown South Bend, the bishop will offer prayers during a peaceful protest sponsored by Right to Life Michiana. There is free two-hour parking nearby, and masks and social distancing are required.
The following day in Elkhart, he will also offer prayers and join with local pro-life advocates at a gathering from noon to 1 p.m. at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, 1405 N. Main St. The protest is sponsored by Right to Life Michiana, and masks and social distancing are required.
Also happening from noon to 1 p.m. Jan. 30 will be a prayer gathering outside the Elkhart County Courthouse, 101 N. Main St., Goshen, sponsored by Right to Life Michiana and requiring masks and social distancing.
For more details on the events in South Bend, Elkhart, and Goshen, visit https://www.prolifemichiana.org/march
For those who can’t attend a rally or protest in person, there is a free Spiritual Sponsorship Program offered through the University of Notre Dame Office of Life and Human Dignity. Young people planning to attend an event may take advantage of the evangelist program and be sponsored by someone who will pray for their pilgrimage and follow up with prayers and conversation afterward.
Olivia Warden, a senior at Bishop Dwenger High School, Fort Wayne, came up with the sponsorship idea. Warden is on the youth leadership planning committee for the diocese and has attended two national marches for life. She said she was “devastated” when news broke that the regular bus trip to Washington, D.C., was canceled this year. And while she’s being very careful regarding COVID-19, she is looking forward to finding out how many people in her area will show up for the local pro-life events and support the pro-life cause.
Adam Ramirez, a youth leader and junior at Marian High School, went to the national march last year on a bus with his youth group. It was his first pro-life rally, and while he didn’t know what to expect, he remembers feeling the unity among the crowd. This year, he’s considering the drive-in rally, which he considers a good idea because some of his close relatives have been quite sick with COVID-19.
All youths and adults across the diocese are encouraged to support life and help raise awareness of the life-affirming alternatives to abortion by joining in with the local pro-life activities scheduled near them.
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