January 27, 2016 // Local

Pro-life community ‘walks the walk,’ ‘talks the talk’

Priests participate in the March for Life: South Bend including, near right, Father Bob Lengerich of St. Dominic Church, Bremen, and Father Chris Lapp, parochial vicar at St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend and chaplain at Marian High School.

By Jennifer Miller

For more photos from the South Bend March for Life visit the photo gallery.

SOUTH BEND — Marking the 43rd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, the St. Joseph County Right to Life (SJCRTL) sponsored “March for Life: South Bend,” a peaceful walk to honor the lives lost and call elected representatives and community to change on Jan. 22 in South Bend. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was in attendance offering his support.

On Sunday, Jan. 24, the Knights of Columbus Council No. 553 sponsored a reflective prayer service at St. Joseph Church on Hill Street and an engaging panel discussion focusing on supporting family life for a culture of life. Both events offered specific ways to “walk and talk” pro-life values.

Claire Fyrqvist, rally host, began the rally with Father Bob Lengerich of St. Dominic Parish in Bremen leading prayer, Terry Wedel from Silent No More sharing her moving experience with grace and Tom Limner of Deer Run Church offering the closing prayer.

The new march route over the St. Joseph River and into downtown South Bend to the Federal Courthouse offered a peaceful public testimony to life through the heart of the city. Over 500 people attended, 250 students from local Catholic schools, such as Corpus Christi, Holy Family, St. Joseph, South Bend, and Mishawaka Catholic.

St. Joseph School first sponsored a special prayer service for the eighth graders attending the march. High school students and teachers from Saint Joseph and Marian high schools also participated, as their travel to the national March for Life in Washington, D.C., was cancelled due to the blizzard on the East Coast. From babies and toddlers in strollers to seniors walking with canes, every age came and walked for an end to abortion in America.

At the Federal Courthouse, people lined the streets with a joy-filled and united spirit. Many families attended, including Rachel Myers and her daughter, Catherine, of Granger, who brought handmade signs, “Peace begins in the womb.” Gov. Pence greeted the marchers, thanking them for their tireless witness to life.

Sunday’s events also offered a positive tone of change to the somber realities of abortion in America. At St. Joseph Church, Father Dave Ruppert, pastor of St. Anthony de Padua Parish, and Bill Schmitt of the Knights of Columbus led a reflective, ecumenical prayer service. Kevin Mitschelen of Riverside Church, a non-denominational community, offered a moving reflection. He challenged listeners that “while the death of innocent children take place God’s people … as a whole seem to be indifferent. Caring more about their Facebook page or a tweet that would make them seem clever … all the while the world is screaming for hope and truth. And my friends, we have that hope and truth … through Christ.” He reminded participants, “It is through God’s immeasurable grace that He desires to heal our land. … God wants to heal our land, but first it will have to come through you.”

A fascinating, thoughtful panel discussion followed at the hall. Members of the panel included Father Glenn Kohrman, pastor of Holy Family Parish, South Bend, and Josh and Stacey Noem. The Noems and their three school-aged children attended the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, this past September, where Pope Francis visited.

Children at St. Dominic Church, Bremen, made posters and marched outside Sunday, Jan. 17, to rally for life in commemoration of the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Afterwards, they gathered at St. Isidore Hall to hear Fred and Lisa Everett from the diocesan Office of Family Life who spoke about the stages of pregnancy and utilized models of fetuses in their discussion with the students.

Father Kohrman focused on the anthropological aspects of the Synod on the Family’s final document with descriptive anecdotes. He reminded listeners of St. John Paul II’s quote from “Familiaris Consortio”: “The future of humanity passes by way of the family.” (No. 86).

Josh Noem shared powerful words of Pope Francis in Philadelphia: “God could have joined our humanity in any way — could have come to a city or in a palace. God sent His Son to a ‘family.’ He could do this because Mary and Joseph were a family with an open heart.”

“An open heart is a place where truth, beauty and goodness can grow,” Josh Noem explained. These words struck at the heart of the nature of Trinitarian love, where individuals are made for relationship. That “deeper logic of God’s love,” he said, “is one of gift and self-sacrifice.”

Stacey described the family’s experience that mirrored that theology. One of caring for each other in crowds of thousands, to choosing to eat simply as pilgrims, to walk instead of ride that allowed their family to refocus priorities and share the experience together. She said, “Sacrificial love is a habit to cultivate and recognize.”

Both the panel discussion and the march offered concrete and theological ways to communicate the pro-life message, both through word and action.


March for Life marks 43rd anniversary of Roe decision legalizing abortion

Franciscan Brothers Minor from Fort Wayne participated in the national March for Life activities on Jan. 22 in Washington, D.C. The photo was shot at the end of the march in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building.

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Catholic admonitions about inclusion mixed with strong political language before the March of Life got underway Jan. 22 in Washington.

At a Jesuit-sponsored Mass for life at St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church that morning, Father Paddy Gilger’s homily reminded a small group of students that because Jesus made an effort to be inclusive when he chose his disciples, they, too, should be respectful of others’ opinions. “As we join in the fight against the scourge of abortion, our differences remain, and that’s OK,” he said. Father Gilger also told the students to combine prayer and penance to create a culture of life. “Our efforts are to be able to create the same amount of space for people to change their hearts,” he said.

Later, at the March for Life rally at the Washington Monument, attended by nearly 50,000, Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard who is running for the Republican presidential nomination drew loud cheers with her claim, “You can bet that I will win this fight against Hillary Clinton.”

The next president, Fiorina said, “will decide whether we force taxpayers to fund the political arm of the abortion industry,” meaning Planned Parenthood.


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