Why youth continue to march for life
by Rachelle Sauvageau
Cathedral of St. Mary in Fargo (left) with Alexis Coles of St. Michael’s Church
in Grand Forks at the January 2018 March for Life in Washington D.C. (submitted
On January 19, hours before the start of the 45th annual March for Life in Washington D.C., Bishop Folda offered Mass at St. Patrick’s Church, located just blocks away from the Mall area in D.C. Over 600 youth from across North Dakota gathered to join in the celebration of Mass and give thanks for the gift of human life before they set forth to join over 100,000 fellow pilgrims from across our nation in the March for Life. Speaking to the youth, Bishop Folda offered these words of encouragement:
“To those of you who are young, I want to thank you for hearing God’s voice in your heart, and for stepping forward to defend your little brothers and sisters. I have to be honest with you. For those of us who are a little older, who have seen this culture of death take hold in our nation, it’s easy to get discouraged, to think that it’s no use, that nothing will ever change. But, you young people give us hope. You, my young friends, give us inspiration and encouragement. You show us the beauty of the culture of life. Your energy and your joy in the gift of life are infectious. You show not only the people that march with you, but you tell the whole world that life is beautiful, it is a gift from God, it is something precious. And most importantly, you tell the world that we aren’t going away. A whole new generation is rising up that is willing to take to the streets for the sake of even one little sheep that might be in danger. You are demonstrating by your presence here and at the March today that every life matters, every life is precious to God. Jesus tells us, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.”
Among the pilgrims who joined the Diocese of Fargo Youth Pilgrimage to the March for Life was Rachel Ullmer, a high school junior from the Cathedral of St. Mary in Fargo. Rachel explains why she chose to take part in the pilgrimage:
“I decided to go to the March for Life because I know that one life can affect so many. For example, if my Grandpa had not been born, he and my grandma would not have had 13 kids and they would not have over 50 grandkids. That in itself is 64 people who would not be here today, including me.
“Going to Washington D.C., the capitol of our country, and seeing the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, really made me think. Our country was founded to ensure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness of all. I am an American and I am proud to stand for these beliefs. I am determined to make sure that every American, every human, gets the chance to live to be who God made them to be and be able to pursue these three goals. That is why I march.
My final reason as to why I felt drawn to the March for Life is to make a better future. I don’t want to live in a world that doesn’t care about the most innocent, the most defenseless, and the most vulnerable of its citizens. Someday if I have kids, I don’t want them to have to live in a world like that. Therefore, I march not only to protect the lives of babies and their mothers, but also to protect myself, my family, and to show others that our country needs to change. I may only be 17, I cannot do that much, but I can stand up for what is right and I will march for life.”
Allison McHugo (left)
and Emily McHugo (right), St. Michael’s Church in Grand Forks, stand in front
of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C during the March for Life in January
2018. (submitted photo)
In addition to participating in the March for Life, pilgrims also had the opportunity to take part in the Vigil Mass for Life at the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on Thursday evening. Earlier that day, they visited the National Shrine for St. John Paul II. Pope St. John Paul II’s pontificate was a catechesis to the world on human dignity, and his timeless encyclical, The Gospel of Life, continues to teach us how to respect, promote and love life. This teaching continues to influence our young people in profound ways.
Allison and Emily McHugo, pilgrim students from St. Michael’s Church in Grand Forks, share why they participated in the March for Life:
“It was something we had wanted to do for quite some time in response to an intense passion to learn and do something more for the pro-life movement. We talk about it, we say we believe it, but what really is ‘it?’ ‘It’ is an amazing experience of hundreds of thousands of people, from all ages and all walks of life singing, cheering and chanting for a common cause – respect for the dignity of all human beings.
“As a group, we talked about respect and dignity for human life. The concept of dignity is related to the inherent value and worth of the human person. Human life is sacred, and dignity is the foundation of a moral vision for our society. Without this respect for life and human dignity, from the unborn to the mentally ill to natural death, nothing else matters. It is that simple – we are called to love and serve life…. every single human life.
“As teens, we took an active role in this issue because it is something we are really passionate about. In our community, there isn’t a lot of true pro-life support, and to find a group of young people who are really dedicated to respect life is amazing. Teen involvement brings a new energy to the cause, and by experiencing the March together, we have a connection with one another that will remain supportive and strong despite the distance between us.
“Other teens are joining this movement because it is a growing national cause. The subject of supporting life is becoming more and more needed in today’s society and it is getting the attention of teens around the world. It is amazing the support shown from teens, and we really think it will help in our fight to respect the dignity of human life.
“The March for Life was an incredible experience that will never be forgotten. Seeing all the people, big and small, gather in support for one purpose is really moving. It’s very cool to see and hear all the people at the March join in for songs and prayer. During the March, one gets to experience meeting new people from all over the country. The immense support for life shown through the March is astonishing and I would recommend anyone who is able, to attend.”
Bishop Folda’s inspiring Jan. 19 homily can be found at www.fargodiocese.org/respectlife. If you feel you have a calling to do more in support and respect for life, contact Rachelle Sauvageau at the Diocese of Fargo Respect Life office at email@example.com or (701) 356-7910.