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Catholic News Herald

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011218 march insideAnnual March for Life held in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE — Gray skies and the threat of heavy rain and thunderstorms did not deter more than 250 marchers from witnessing to the sanctity of life Jan. 12 for the 12th annual March for Life Charlotte.

“For those of us who witness to life and for those of us who publicly assent to God’s will about life from conception to natural death, it is very natural to be here today,” said Father Joshua Voitus, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church in Charlotte, in his opening remarks at Independence Square in uptown Charlotte.

“We are emphasizing publicly our commitment to that which God has given. Nevertheless, it can be very frustrating at times. The forces arrayed against us can seem at times very powerful. They can seem very overwhelming. The culture that we have, as Pope St. John Paul II so famously called it – ‘the culture of death’ – can seem so powerful and so strong,” he acknowledged.

Looking out over the men, women and children gathered in the square in earshot of those walking by, Father Voitus asked, “Why, year after year, are we here?”

“We are here because we have hope,” he continued. “We have hope that no matter the forces arrayed against us, no matter how long this fight has been, no matter how long it is going to be in the future, we have hope. Not abstract hope; sure and certain hope that comes from Almighty God.

“We have hope and the knowledge that we will prevail one day. It is a firmly grounded hope, grounded in our knowledge and our love of Almighty God.”

Among those attending the 12th annual march was recently ordained Father Brian Becker, parochial vicar of St. Mark Church in Huntersville. This was his first March for Life in Charlotte, although he has attended the national March for Life in Washington, D.C., for many years.

“I am very happy to be here,” Father Becker said. “Being able to witness to life is a chance to stand up as a Church and to witness against the greatest moral evil that we face in our country. Abortion is that great scourge that we all need to dedicate our efforts to (eradicating). It’s good to give a very public witness and a very public focus on this issue to keep it on the forefront of our minds, even after so many decades of legalized abortion in this country.”

Jan and Barbara Fredericks, parishioners from St. Mark Church, agreed.

“I’m here to pray for an end to abortion. It’s a subject that is being ignored by us Catholics to a large extent and definitely being ignored by the world at large,” Jan Fredericks said. “I think we need to keep up the fight to make sure that our future generations are kept. We are losing not only lives, but we are losing perspective as Catholics are weakening in their dislike of abortion. They are weakening in their protection of life. We are losing a generation because of our deafness to the need for stopping abortion.”

Barbara Fredericks added, “Our secular culture is becoming more and more against the God-given values of life. We are here because we know that all life is sacred. There are some people who cannot speak for themselves. We are here to speak for them, to say that unborn children are sacred, old people are sacred, people in nursing homes are sacred. They all deserve the right to life.”

Angela Shea, a parishioner of St. Ann Church in Charlotte, and her eight children, aged 4 months to 15, also attended the march.

“I think that it’s very important to teach them to stand up for life. It’s important for them to see people getting together for things like this. We talk about it all the time, but the act of doing it is important. This is the next generation, and we have to empower them,” she said.

Her daughter Isabella, 15, explained her presence at the Charlotte march. “I have always been brought up to be pro-life. I never fully understood why we were marching for these things. I just thought it was something we were doing. Then I started going to Latrobe (the busiest abortion facility in Charlotte) one Saturday a month as part of the Epic group.

“I think it’s important to stand up for causes you believe in, especially an end to abortion,” she said. “In our nation today it is important for us, men and women, to empower women.”

Other youth attending the March for Life Charlotte included students from Charlotte Catholic High School who will also travel to Washington, D.C., Jan. 19 for the national March for Life.

Charlotte Nazarian, a senior, said, “Last year was my first march. I feel like this gets March for Life Month going. It’s important to point out that there are people in Charlotte who are pro-life. We’re here. We’re marching. We’re pro-life.”

Her younger brother, Louis Nazarian, is a junior who won a Charlotte Catholic essay contest and will receive a free trip to D.C. He explained the reason he advocates for the unborn: “I’ve always loved life. This is a huge part of my life. I have so much respect for everyone who is here.

“Everyone needs a chance at life. To see these people around me wanting to give people a chance, it’s so inspiring. I love marching the streets of Charlotte proclaiming life. We are the pro-life generation!”

“I love these events put on with the diocese,” added Matthew Sie, a junior. “They energize me and make me really hopeful. You read in the news or hear people say the Catholic Church is in decline. But when you come to our diocese and see events like this and the Eucharistic Congress, you see tons of laypeople who are willing to come out in support of the Church.

“It’s always really neat to see the huge presence our clergy and religious here. It’s something we’re really lucky to have here. Not a lot of other dioceses have this. We’re very lucky to have such a big, active presence from our priests and religious here.”

Courtney Sheaf, a Spanish teacher at Charlotte Catholic and faculty member who assists the school’s Voices for Life group, also attended the Jan. 12 march before leading 23 students along with chaperones to the national March for Life on Friday.

“The pro-life movement has always been something I have been passionate about,” Sheaf said. “Since I grew up being so passionate about it, I just love to see young people passionate about it, so anything I can do to help lead them to stand up and find a voice, to give others a voice that don’t have one, I think that’s a great opportunity.”

Charlotte Catholic chaplain and diocesan promoter of vocations, Father Jason Barone, said, “It is important for our youth to attend these marches for life because it is the handing of the torch on to the next generation, to be a witness to shine a light on the truth of the precious gift which is life. here is a need for us to stand up for life and to bear witness to the truth as St. John the Baptist did in his own life.”

During his remarks in Independence Square, Father Voitus also reminded everyone gathered, “We are here too because we have faith. To the outside world it might seem we are protesting. It might seem that we are demonstrating. It might seem that we are rallying, but we are doing none of those things.

“We are bearing public witness of our faith in Almighty God. It is not us who marches today. It doesn’t matter if there are a few people or there are many people, because it is God Himself who marches here today. It is God Himself who witnesses here today to His gift of life. We are merely those conduits of His grace. We are merely His servants.”

Father Voitus also noted, most importantly, that those present march principally and above all because of love.

“We don’t march out of hatred. We don’t march primarily even out of opposition. We oppose abortion, true. We oppose euthanasia, true. Our primary focus, our primary goal and our primary reason is not in opposition but because we are in favor of something, because we love,” he said.

“We love first and foremost. Above all, we love our God. And life is a gift that is given by Him to us. The One whom we love has given us a gift and we march to preserve that gift. We pray publicly and bear witness that we might be stronger and others may join us to bear witness and accept that gift of life from Almighty God.

“We march because we love children. We love the unborn. Even though they are still in their mother’s wombs, we love them. We love them and desire to take care of them, to preserve them.”

And finally, he said, “We march because we love the women who are struggling in their pregnancy or who are struggling with that idea of an abortion that might seem like such an easy solution. We march because we love them and because we know that abortion is neither a solution nor is it easy. We know how it scars women and how it hurts them. We march to preserve them out of love.”

 — SueAnn Howell, Senior reporter. Photos by SueAnn Howell, Catholic News Herald

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011218 march insideAnnual March for Life held in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE — Gray skies and the threat of heavy rain and thunderstorms did not deter more than 250 marchers from witnessing to the sanctity of life Jan. 12 for the 12th annual March for Life Charlotte.

“For those of us who witness to life and for those of us who publicly assent to God’s will about life from conception to natural death, it is very natural to be here today,” said Father Joshua Voitus, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church in Charlotte, in his opening remarks at Independence Square in uptown Charlotte.

“We are emphasizing publicly our commitment to that which God has given. Nevertheless, it can be very frustrating at times. The forces arrayed against us can seem at times very powerful. They can seem very overwhelming. The culture that we have, as Pope St. John Paul II so famously called it – ‘the culture of death’ – can seem so powerful and so strong,” he acknowledged.

Looking out over the men, women and children gathered in the square in earshot of those walking by, Father Voitus asked, “Why, year after year, are we here?”

“We are here because we have hope,” he continued. “We have hope that no matter the forces arrayed against us, no matter how long this fight has been, no matter how long it is going to be in the future, we have hope. Not abstract hope; sure and certain hope that comes from Almighty God.

“We have hope and the knowledge that we will prevail one day. It is a firmly grounded hope, grounded in our knowledge and our love of Almighty God.”

Among those attending the 12th annual march was recently ordained Father Brian Becker, parochial vicar of St. Mark Church in Huntersville. This was his first March for Life in Charlotte, although he has attended the national March for Life in Washington, D.C., for many years.

“I am very happy to be here,” Father Becker said. “Being able to witness to life is a chance to stand up as a Church and to witness against the greatest moral evil that we face in our country. Abortion is that great scourge that we all need to dedicate our efforts to (eradicating). It’s good to give a very public witness and a very public focus on this issue to keep it on the forefront of our minds, even after so many decades of legalized abortion in this country.”

Jan and Barbara Fredericks, parishioners from St. Mark Church, agreed.

“I’m here to pray for an end to abortion. It’s a subject that is being ignored by us Catholics to a large extent and definitely being ignored by the world at large,” Jan Fredericks said. “I think we need to keep up the fight to make sure that our future generations are kept. We are losing not only lives, but we are losing perspective as Catholics are weakening in their dislike of abortion. They are weakening in their protection of life. We are losing a generation because of our deafness to the need for stopping abortion.”

Barbara Fredericks added, “Our secular culture is becoming more and more against the God-given values of life. We are here because we know that all life is sacred. There are some people who cannot speak for themselves. We are here to speak for them, to say that unborn children are sacred, old people are sacred, people in nursing homes are sacred. They all deserve the right to life.”

Angela Shea, a parishioner of St. Ann Church in Charlotte, and her eight children, aged 4 months to 15, also attended the march.

“I think that it’s very important to teach them to stand up for life. It’s important for them to see people getting together for things like this. We talk about it all the time, but the act of doing it is important. This is the next generation, and we have to empower them,” she said.

Her daughter Isabella, 15, explained her presence at the Charlotte march. “I have always been brought up to be pro-life. I never fully understood why we were marching for these things. I just thought it was something we were doing. Then I started going to Latrobe (the busiest abortion facility in Charlotte) one Saturday a month as part of the Epic group.

“I think it’s important to stand up for causes you believe in, especially an end to abortion,” she said. “In our nation today it is important for us, men and women, to empower women.”

Other youth attending the March for Life Charlotte included students from Charlotte Catholic High School who will also travel to Washington, D.C., Jan. 19 for the national March for Life.

Charlotte Nazarian, a senior, said, “Last year was my first march. I feel like this gets March for Life Month going. It’s important to point out that there are people in Charlotte who are pro-life. We’re here. We’re marching. We’re pro-life.”

Her younger brother, Louis Nazarian, is a junior who won a Charlotte Catholic essay contest and will receive a free trip to D.C. He explained the reason he advocates for the unborn: “I’ve always loved life. This is a huge part of my life. I have so much respect for everyone who is here.

“Everyone needs a chance at life. To see these people around me wanting to give people a chance, it’s so inspiring. I love marching the streets of Charlotte proclaiming life. We are the pro-life generation!”

“I love these events put on with the diocese,” added Matthew Sie, a junior. “They energize me and make me really hopeful. You read in the news or hear people say the Catholic Church is in decline. But when you come to our diocese and see events like this and the Eucharistic Congress, you see tons of laypeople who are willing to come out in support of the Church.

“It’s always really neat to see the huge presence our clergy and religious here. It’s something we’re really lucky to have here. Not a lot of other dioceses have this. We’re very lucky to have such a big, active presence from our priests and religious here.”

Courtney Sheaf, a Spanish teacher at Charlotte Catholic and faculty member who assists the school’s Voices for Life group, also attended the Jan. 12 march before leading 23 students along with chaperones to the national March for Life on Friday.

“The pro-life movement has always been something I have been passionate about,” Sheaf said. “Since I grew up being so passionate about it, I just love to see young people passionate about it, so anything I can do to help lead them to stand up and find a voice, to give others a voice that don’t have one, I think that’s a great opportunity.”

Charlotte Catholic chaplain and diocesan promoter of vocations, Father Jason Barone, said, “It is important for our youth to attend these marches for life because it is the handing of the torch on to the next generation, to be a witness to shine a light on the truth of the precious gift which is life. here is a need for us to stand up for life and to bear witness to the truth as St. John the Baptist did in his own life.”

During his remarks in Independence Square, Father Voitus also reminded everyone gathered, “We are here too because we have faith. To the outside world it might seem we are protesting. It might seem that we are demonstrating. It might seem that we are rallying, but we are doing none of those things.

“We are bearing public witness of our faith in Almighty God. It is not us who marches today. It doesn’t matter if there are a few people or there are many people, because it is God Himself who marches here today. It is God Himself who witnesses here today to His gift of life. We are merely those conduits of His grace. We are merely His servants.”

Father Voitus also noted, most importantly, that those present march principally and above all because of love.

“We don’t march out of hatred. We don’t march primarily even out of opposition. We oppose abortion, true. We oppose euthanasia, true. Our primary focus, our primary goal and our primary reason is not in opposition but because we are in favor of something, because we love,” he said.

“We love first and foremost. Above all, we love our God. And life is a gift that is given by Him to us. The One whom we love has given us a gift and we march to preserve that gift. We pray publicly and bear witness that we might be stronger and others may join us to bear witness and accept that gift of life from Almighty God.

“We march because we love children. We love the unborn. Even though they are still in their mother’s wombs, we love them. We love them and desire to take care of them, to preserve them.”

And finally, he said, “We march because we love the women who are struggling in their pregnancy or who are struggling with that idea of an abortion that might seem like such an easy solution. We march because we love them and because we know that abortion is neither a solution nor is it easy. We know how it scars women and how it hurts them. We march to preserve them out of love.”

 — SueAnn Howell, Senior reporter. Photos by SueAnn Howell, Catholic News Herald

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Father Joshua Voitus excerpts from March for Life Keynote address

Father Joshua Voitus excerpts from March for Life Keynote address

For those of us who witness to life and for those of us who publicly assent to God’s will about life from conception to natural death, it is very natural to be here today. What we are doing is we are emphasizing publicly our commitment to that which God has given. Nevertheless it can be very frustrating at times.
The forces arrayed against us can seem at times very powerful. They can seem very overwhelming. The culture that we have, as Pope St. John Paul II so famously called it, ‘the culture of death’. It can seem so powerful and so strong.
We as individuals can seem so weak, so frail. We might get frustrated in the many years since the Roe vs Wade Decision which legalized abortion nationwide in our country. WE have had many ups and many downs in this movement.
We might ask rightly, ‘Why are we here?’
Why, year after year, are we here?
We are here because we have hope. We have hope that no matter the forces arrayed against us, no matter how long this fight has been, no matter how long it is going to be in the future. We have hope. Not abstract home. Sure and certain hope that comes from Almighty God.
We have hope and the knowledge that we will prevail one day. It is a firmly grounded hope, grounded in our knowledge and our love of Almighty God.
We are here too because we have faith.
To the outside world it might seem we are protesting. It might seem that we are demonstrating. It might seem that we are rallying, but we are doing none of those things.
We are bearing public witness of our faith in Almighty God. It is not us who marches today. It doesn’t matter if there are a few people or are many people, because it is God Himself who marches here today. It is God Himself who witnesses here today to His gift of life. We are merely those conduits of His grace. We are merely His servants.
In the midst of that opposition, in the midst of all those things, we march in the confidence that it is God who marches ahead of us and God who marches behind us, just as He marched with the Israelites so many years ago.
We have no fear of earthly power. We have no fear of earthly resistance. We have no timidity in the face of any earthly persecution or opposition, because it is God Himself who marches and will bring about victory.
Finally, we march principally and above all because we love.
We don’t march out of hatred. We don’t march primarily even out of opposition. We oppose abortion, true. We oppose euthanasia, true. Our primary focus, our primary goal and our primary reason is not in opposition but because we are in favor of something, because we love.
We love first and foremost, above all, we love our God. And life is a gift that is given by Him to us. The One whom we love has given us a gift and we march to preserve that gift. We pray publicly and bear witness that we might be stronger and others may join us to bear witness and accept that gift of life from Almighty God.
We march because we love children. We love the unborn. Even though they are still in their mother’s womb, we love them. We love them and desire to take care of them, to preserve them.
We march because we love the women who are struggling in their pregnancy or who are struggling with that idea of an abortion that might seem like such an easy solution. We march because we love them and because we know that abortion is neither a solution nor is it easy. We know how it scars women and how it hurts them. We march to preserve them out of love.
Any movement founded on love will live forever because God is love and God is life and we have the Author of Life on our side. We stand in faith hope and love. We stand in the knowledge of the love of God and that God will bring about victory.
We pray that it will be soon. We pray that women who are considering abortion will be saved from that terrible, that horrible thing they are considering now.
We pray for one another that we might have the perseverance and the courage to come year after year as long as it takes so that the love of God may be manifested in the whole world through us and that His gift of life may be accepted by all people in this nation and in all nations so that more men and women may know, love and serve Him in this life and be with Him forever in the next.

‘Love Saves Lives’ March for Life in D.C.

‘Love Saves Lives’ March for Life in D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The March for Life Education and Defense Fund has announced the details for the 2018 March for Life to be held on Friday, Jan. 19. “Love Saves Lives” will be the theme of the annual march, which seeks to draw attention to the value of every life and the power of every American’s voice in speaking out for the unborn.

A Mass for pro-life advocates from North Carolina will be celebrated at the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on the campus of The Catholic University of America at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 19. Bishop Peter J. Jugis will serve as the principal celebrant and homilist.

The March for Life events will begin with a rally at noon on the National Mall, which will be followed at 1 p.m. by a march to the U.S. Supreme Court to hear testimony from women who regret their abortion.

Other D.C. March for Life events

- A Youth Rally and Mass for Life hosted by the Archdiocese of Washington will take place on Jan. 19. The ticketed event will be held at the Verizon Center and the D.C. Armory, both in Washington, D.C. For more information about the event, visit youthrallyandmassforlife.org.

- The Paulus Institute for the Propagation of Sacred Liturgy, Washington, D.C., will hold the Sixth Annual Nellie Gray Mass Jan. 19, immediately after the March for Life, at 3p.m. The Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form (traditional Latin Mass) will be offered at St. Mary Mother of God Church at 5th and H Sts. N.W. in downtown Washington, D.C.

- On Friday, Jan. 19 and Saturday, Jan. 20, Latinos Por La Vida will host its Fourth Annual Pro-Life Concert and Conference at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, Falls Church, Va. For details, go to www.latinosporlavida.com/events.

Diocese of Raleigh events
The Diocese of Raleigh will host a Love My Life Rally for Catholic teens before the March for Life Raleigh on Saturday, Jan. 13, at Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral in Raleigh. The Love My Life Rally begins at 10 a.m. A diocesan Mass for Life will be celebrated at the cathedral at noon. Youth attending the Rally for Life will be bused to the March for Life Raleigh at 1:45 p.m. The March for Life Raleigh begins at 2:30 p.m.
For details, go to www.dioceseofraleigh.org.
— SueAnn Howell, senior reporter