Scott Warden
January 20, 2024 // Diocese

Thousands to March for the Unborn in Indianapolis

Scott Warden

On Monday, January 22, thousands of pro-life supporters from across the state are expected to gather in Indianapolis to give witness to the sanctity of all human life – particularly the lives of the unborn – at the 2024 Indiana March for Life. For the first time since the event was founded in 2018, groups from each of the state’s five dioceses – Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indianapolis, Evansville, Lafayette, and Gary – will participate, and four of the state’s five bishops, including Bishop Rhoades, will celebrate the Mass for Life, which will precede the march.

With the 2022 Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturning Roe v. Wade and allowing individual states to regulate abortion within their boundaries, pro-life leaders in Indiana saw a greater need to focus their efforts on the state and local levels, prompting in them a desire to grow the March for Life in Indianapolis.

This new legislative reality “has resulted in an effort of the Ecclesiastical Province of the five dioceses in Indiana to solidify a common voice and witness to the Church’s long-standing, Christ-centered teaching on the dignity of the person from the moment of conception to natural death,” Indianapolis Archbishop Charles C. Thompson told The Criterion, the newspaper of the archdiocese.

Nearly 200 youths and adult leaders from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend will travel by bus to Indianapolis to take part in a pre-march Youth Rally, as well as the Mass for Life, the march itself, and the day’s other activities.

“While local advocacy has always been an essential and necessary part of the pro-life movement, it is now vitally important to advocate for pro-life legislation and community-wide support of unborn children and mothers in need,” said John Pratt, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. “Two of our neighboring states have, in the last 15 months, voted to pass aggressively pro-abortion laws/constitutional amendments. Our Catholic faith urges and compels us to pray, dream, and take action to let a culture of life truly reign in our state and entire country. The Indiana March for Life is pivotal given the realities of our day.”

To reflect the increased importance of the statewide march, organizers added events to the day’s schedule, including the Youth Rally – a ticketed event for students in grades 8-12 that will take place from 9-11 a.m. at the Indiana Convention Center prior to the Mass for Life. The Youth Rally will be led by musician Sarah Kroger and members of the New York-based Sisters of Life, a religious order founded more than 30 years ago to care for mothers and their unborn children and provide a witness to the God-given dignity of all human life.

In a video conference with youth leaders from across the state, Sister Mary Grace, who joined the Sisters of Life in 2013 and professed first vows in 2018, shared what she hopes the young people in Indianapolis will take away from the event.

“We’ve walked with thousands of women in New York City and beyond, and what we’ve come to learn is that truly, in the pro-life movement, love is the only answer,” Sister Mary Grace said. “As simple and as profound as that is, most of the women that come into our care, they don’t need their problems to be fixed. Even though we offer them all the emotional, physical, spiritual, mental support they need, ultimately, any woman in crisis needs to know she’s loved. Because I’ll tell you, when a woman knows that she’s loved, she can do anything … she’s even capable of receiving a life they didn’t plan for and receiving a new gift of their own life.”

Sister Mary Grace continued: “So first and foremost, we want to give the youth an experience of that, actually, for them to be told through stories and dynamic insights of the sisters, but through the whole event, that they are good and that their life does not depend on how good their grades are, or what kind of friends they’re with, or what kind of academic abilities they have, or how sporty and successful they are, or what kind of fears they face and the lies that they hear as a youth. … We love them, and they need to know that their worth doesn’t depend on any other condition apart from the fact that God wants them, wills them, and they’re deeply wanted.”

Sister Mary Grace told the youth leaders that this will be the first year the order has accepted invitations to join local marches, and despite being inundated with requests, it has chosen just two in which to participate: Hawaii, she joked, for obvious, weather-related reasons, and Indiana, for its dedication to the cause of life.

“For us, when we discern where we go, we ask the Holy Spirit, ‘Show us where you want us,’ and we’ve been hounded by you people,” she said of pro-life leaders in Indiana. “And that’s not really a reflection of us as much as it is that there is a spirit and movement rising up in Indiana at this moment that I think we need to pay attention to. We need to wake up to the reality that you are one of the few states that God has given the capacity to be like a lighthouse to the rest of the United States right now. You’re one of the few lasting states that are holding true to the possibility of a culture of life in America. You’re one of the few remaining.”

Sister Mary Grace continued: “And so for the sake of your state that is crying out, and also for the sake of the rest of the country, too, the fact that you are willing to wave the flag that you’re a pro-life state, the fact that you’re willing to buckle down and form your youth, that you’re willing to keep marching even though Roe v. Wade has been overturned, what you’re speaking to is for your youth but it is also outstanding for your country. As a community based on the East Coast, where some of the worst abortion laws are happening, New York needs Indiana to witness to this; Massachusetts needs it, Colorado needs it. We’re desperate to know and be convinced that it’s still possible to have a pro-life state.”

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