Feb. 2-8, 2006
Marching for Life
By Bob Walters/ SUN contributing writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Diocese youth head to D.C.
“I regret my Abortion” was a sign carried by more than one woman at this year’s “March for Life” in Washington, D.C. After seeing these women, the signs that they carried and all the youth present at this year’s march, I am hopeful that the youth from the Syracuse Diocese, who had made the long overnight trek to D.C., will not be carrying one of their own signs stating the same thing in the future. Over 25,000 youth attended this march, along with approximately 150,000 other people, and they know the truth — that life begins at conception and that each life must be protected.
Our trek began in November with a conversation I had with Bishop Moynihan. He had been invited to attend the March for Life youth rally, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Washington, and he wanted to know if I was interested in putting a trip together. I immediately said, “Yes!” and began making plans. Soon after, I was made aware that this was to be the first diocesan sponsored trip to the march. What made this trip unique, however, is that it was specifically for teens. There had been local trips to the march, but none were specifically geared for teens — and none were to the pre-march youth rally. I knew this was an awesome opportunity for teens in our diocese to experience the young church putting their faith in action, but I had no way to fund it. I went to speak with Cindy Falise, director of the Respect Life Office, to see if she could help. Stepping into her office, I saw Cindy waving a flyer for the youth rally as she asked me if I planned on taking the youth. I explained my situation and a few days later I was informed that the Respect Life Office would sponsor a bus! I thought to myself, “God definitely wants this trip to happen.”
With the bus on the way, the challenge now was to fill it. Being new in my position I still had not met the majority of youth ministers and individuals who work with youth. How was I going to fill this bus? I prayed. God would fill the bus. I spoke with a few people I did know about the trip — they were elated and began to spread the word. The week before the trip the bus was filled and we had a waiting list.
The overwhelming response prompted Holy Family Church in Syracuse to rent two vans to accommodate those on the list. The last thing to do was to pack and meet at the Bishop Harrison Center on Sunday, January 22 at 9 p.m.
On Sunday evening Bishop Moynihan explained to us the necessity and significance of this march — and the importance of the youth’s participation. He gave his blessing and we were off. We would be taking a 24-hour road trip to the nation’s capitol and back. The rally was to begin at 7 a.m. and end with Mass around 11. From there we would gather near the Washington monument to meet up with the larger group to march along Constitution Ave. and arrive at the steps of the Supreme Court. We would pray the rosary as we marched and offer all intentions for the unborn and the end of abortion.
In the MCI Center we were surrounded by 25,000 teens singing and gearing up for the march. We were told that the center was filled to capacity and that 2,000 teens had to be turned away because there was no room left inside. The rally closed with Mass concelebrated by bishops and priests from all over the country. Bishop’s names were announced and groups from their respective diocese would cheer. We left the center around noon, by police escort. The streets were completely filled. Everywhere we looked we saw people marching. Crossing Constitution Ave. we met the larger group, 150,000, and began our march to the Supreme Court. It was then that I saw the signs mentioned above. After witnessing the thousands in D.C. gathered to support life, I remain hopeful.
The author is diocesan director of the Office of Youth Ministry.