By Tim Johnson
FORT WAYNE — Carrying pro-life banners and filled with hope and encouragement, thousands of area citizens gathered at the University of Saint Francis Performing Arts Center for a noon rally followed by the 40th annual March for Life through downtown Fort Wayne on Jan. 18.
The 40th annual March for Life marked the 41st anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in 1973. More than an estimated 55 million unborn children have been victims of abortion since the Supreme Court decision, including more than 30,000 children in Allen County.
Allen County Right to Life Executive Director Cathie Humbarger, also the event organizer, announced, “By the grace of God and with the support of every one in this room, I am pleased to tell you that since Jan. 1, there have been no abortions done at the abortion clinic (in Fort Wayne).”
After a rousing applause, Humbarger said due to circumstances that occurred at the end of last year, “the abortion business is at least ‘temporarily’ shut down. And I implore you to please continue to pray that this is a permanent closure.”
The rally’s keynote speaker, Angela Minter, is the executive director of Sisters For Life, a Kentucky-based, nonprofit dedicated to defending the sanctity of life at every stage from conception to mature adulthood.
Minter, who was also the keynote speaker at the Elkhart County Right to Life rally and march just a week earlier on Jan. 11, is a born again Christian and the wife of her high school sweetheart, Parnell. They have enjoyed over two decades of marriage and are blessed with three children. Angela and Parnell also lost two pre-born babies to abortion while in their teens.
They bear the scars of abortion, which only heightens Minter’s commitment to pre-born babies, their parents and families. Minter discovered later in life that her parents had attempted to abort her.
Minter’s story was one of forgiveness and healing through Christ.
Sisters For Life is a Christian, nonprofit organization based in Louisville, Ky., and is inspired by God to take a holistic approach in advocating for preborn babies, and mothers and fathers that are faced with an unplanned or crisis pregnancy. They are also advocates for God’s family values and believe God has a good plan and purpose for every life and family. Sisters For Life’s goal is to serve and assist them in fulfilling that plan.
Other rally participants included 16-year-old Emma MacDonald, a member of St. Jude Parish, Fort Wayne. MacDonald provided the music called “Deliver Us” that she wrote and performed. The song will be included in an upcoming album that will be released in April.
After the rally, the nearly full auditorium reassembled for a march through the downtown streets of Fort Wayne and to the Federal Building.
Seminarians from the Lutheran Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, to a large Catholic contingency from several parishes and Knights of Columbus councils to the IPFW Students for Life group filled the streets in the multi-block procession.
Father George Gabet of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter and pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Fort Wayne, prayed the rosary with fellow marchers, as did Father Daniel Whelan, pastor of St. John the Baptist, Fort Wayne, who also led the opening prayer at the rally, and Father James Bromwich, both Sons of St. Philip Neri.
Ralph Stark, assembling with the St. Patrick, Arcola, Knights of Columbus, attended the rally and march. He recalled the loss he felt when his son died in 1970 at the age of three. “The loss of a child is very important, and that’s where I come from,” he told Today’s Catholic. “He was only three and a half years old when he died, but he was still my son,” Stark said. “I believe that everybody should have a chance at life.”
Ruby Gunkel of St. Patrick Parish, Arcola, has 25 grandchildren and 25 great grandchildren. “I’m very much pro-life,” she acclaimed.
Emily Croy attended the march with her young daughter and dad. “This is my fourth year,” Emily Croy said about the march. “I chose life. The first year I did it, I was pregnant with my daughter. The second year, I did it when my daughter was a newborn. … We will do it every year. …”
Emily’s dad, Jim Croy, has always been pro-life. He is a member of the St. Patrick, Arcola, Knights of Columbus. While Emily was a student in school in Chicago, she became pregnant. The birth father’s parents, he said, encouraged his daughter to have an abortion.
“She was mortified,” Jim Croy said. “She had marched in other pro-life events with me before,” and pointing to his two-year-old granddaughter, “there’s the testament to why you don’t … and she would not be here if Emily had made that decision.”
“I just don’t understand how you couldn’t choose life,” Jim added. “So here I am holding the banner,” for the Arcola Knights.
Jim Conroy of St. Therese Parish, Fort Wayne, has participated in the march for a number of years. He said this year is a bit different than other years because he is now a grandfather.
“You appreciate life more,” Conroy said. “You realize your life has been passed on to your grandchildren. Everybody should be able to enjoy the feeling of having grandchildren. And every time there’s an abortion, a grandbaby dies.”
At the conclusion of the march, representatives from “Silent No More,” the awareness campaign for men and women with an abortion in their past, offered their testimonies in front of the E. Ross Adair Federal Building.
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