Tuesday, July 23, 2024

‘For the Salvation of Souls,’ Adams Deanery Parishioners Among Tens of Thousands at Snowy March for Life

Snowy, blustery and frigid conditions couldn’t stop parishioners from the Diocese of Harrisburg from joining the multitude of people witnessing to the dignity of human life at the 51st March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Friday, January 19.

In fact, the challenging winter weather only strengthened their resolve to speak for the unborn and demonstrate their care and concern for mothers facing unplanned pregnancies.

“It’s easy to come down here to the march when it’s bright and sunny; it speaks much greater volumes when there’s difficulty involved and that cross has to be borne,” said Father Richard Lyons, pastor of Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in McSherrystown.

He joined a contingent of nearly 40 parishioners from Annunciation, Sacred Heart of Jesus in Conewago and St. Joseph in Hannover for the march, which drew tens of thousands to the nation’s capital for the annual event.

“The snow definitely presented some challenges. We had a late start, a slow drive, but nonetheless that’s the importance we place on this kind of effort,” Father Lyons said. “We’ve seen time and time again throughout the Church’s history…that the Church is always called to persevere, both in good times and in bad. Even and especially when it’s the most difficult, we look to the testimony of the martyrs who demonstrate how our sacrifices ultimately add weight and purpose to our efforts.”

While the snow-covered National Mall and the wet streets leading up to the Supreme Court provided challenging conditions, some participants, like 16-year-old Jackson Arigo and his counterparts, added to the energetic atmosphere by building a snowman and outfitting it with a life-affirming message.

“Today, I’m here to fight for babies’ rights. I think it’s important that everyone has a chance to live,” said Jackson, a sophomore at Delone Catholic High School in McSherrystown.

With school closed for a snow day, Jackson traveled with the Adams Deanery group, along with his three sisters, Reagan and Carolina (2023 Delone graduates) and 12-year-old Stella, and friend Braeden Spielman.

Jeff Evich, a candidate in the Diocese’s permanent diaconate formation program and a member of St. Joseph’s in Hanover, said, “One of the great joys of being here is all the young people you see. It’s a great source of hope for me. It’s a way for me to strengthen my journey and share it with others.”

Evich said he attended the march “to support life, to support the rights of everyone to enjoy the life God has given us. We know through our faith that life begins at conception, and it’s the greatest gift that we have. Everyone deserves to enjoy the fruits of that gift.”

“It’s a true blessing to be here with all these brothers and sisters in Christ to support a tremendous movement, and one that we see growing,” he said.

Grace Elser, Respect Life Coordinator at Annunciation BVM Parish, remarked, “We’re here to stand up for the babies, the voiceless, the innocent, the ones who can’t speak for themselves. It’s important that we stand up for them because life is precious. Everyone deserves a birthday. Everyone has a soul given to them by God. It’s not right for someone else to decide when a life ends.”

The contingent began the day with morning Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Conewago.

“As I preached in the homily this morning for our Mass, we have this recognition deep in our hearts and our souls, and from the revelation of Christ that all human life is sacred, all human life is dignified. We also have a need, a desire to uphold that for all people – not just the unborn, but all those involved,” Father Lyons said. “We’re calling not only for an end to abortion but for the salvation of souls. That’s why I feel it’s so important to continue coming here.

“The fight goes on to end abortion not just from a legal side but from a personal side, to try to win hearts for Christ,” he said.

By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness

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