Sixth-annual Charlotte March for Life tests will, shows heart
CHARLOTTE — It's always freezing on the second Friday in January for the Charlotte March for Life. "More to offer up," some would say. Ask the more than 200 people who braved the howling winter winds to witness to life and they'll tell you there was plenty to "offer up" despite the Carolina blue skies and sunshine.
Editor's note: To view a slideshow from the March for Life, go online to the Diocese of Charlotte's YouTube channel.
Pro-life advocates began the morning at 9 a.m. with a Mass for the Unborn at St. Peter Church in Charlotte. Father Hayden Augustine, vicar general of the Missionaries of the Poor, was the main celebrant and homilist. He has worked tirelessly in the M.O.P. missions in India and Africa for the past 20 years, and has recently helped found the Holy Innocents Crisis Centre in Jamaica with Father Richard Ho Lung, founder of the Missionaries of the Poor. This center helps counsel pregnant women threatened by the prospect of abortion and helps them care for their babies.
During his homily, Father Augustine cited the daily reading from the Gospel of Mark which describes how four men came to the rescue of their friend who needed to be lifted down through the roof to be healed by Jesus. He elaborated how we have to counteract the current culture with the values of life that we have learned as Christians.
He challenged those present at Mass to consider the choices we will soon make regarding who will lead our nation.
"What kind of leaders do we want?" he asked. "Do we want those who exploit labor? Those who wrench babies from the womb? Or do we want leaders who inspire us to labor for others ... to sacrifice for those who are weak?"
After Mass, people from across the Diocese of Charlotte gathered at the diocesan Pastoral Center to pick up pro-life signs and rosaries to carry in the march. Father Augustine then shared a prayer and Bishop Peter J. Jugis blessed the marchers and reminded the crowd that "we must be advocates for the unborn."
"Abortion is a grave injustice because it takes the life of an innocent human being," Bishop Jugis said.
The Missionaries of the Poor led the procession including Knights of Columbus, priests, deacons, students and supporters of life into the streets of uptown Charlotte for the sixth-annual March for Life. At Independence Square, the city's center, Father Augustine spoke to the crowds huddled against the blustery winds.
He focused his talk on disabilities – those discovered in the womb and those living with disadvantages – drawing from his experiences helping those most in need, which often include mental and physically handicapped people all over the world.
"It has been 39 years since the United States Supreme Court's landmark decision to legalize abortion," Father Augustine said. "And it has been 39 years that the Catholic Church in the United States has courageously and purposely championed and defended the culture of life by raising and sustaining awareness of the evils of abortion."
Father Augustine highlighted the growing trend of women having abortions after extensive prenatal screening finds the risk or evidence of genetic and other disorders.
"Abortion in these situations can lead to all sorts of things in society like euthanasia and purification of the species. That's not good," Father Augustine told the Catholic News Herald shortly before the march began. "It's a slippery slope. Where do we go from here?"
The next to address the crowd was Brice Griffin, a parishioner at St. Patrick Cathedral in Charlotte and a witness for Silent No More, who gave her testimony on how an abortion in her early 20s left her emotionally traumatized. She explained that she began to heal after going to reconciliation and attending a Rachel's Vineyard retreat for women and men who have experienced the pain of abortion. Now she and her family thank God and the priests who came to her aid with love and mercy.
Charlotte resident Deborah McKinney then took the stage, sharing her adoption story.
"Twelve years ago, I found myself unexpectedly pregnant," said McKinney, who also attends St. Patrick Cathedral. "I thought about having an abortion, but I decided to go with an open adoption."
This is McKinney's third year attending the march. This year she also bundled up her 4-year-old daughter Betty June and 2-year-old son Luke to witness to the sanctity of all human life. They were among a couple of hundred Catholic faithful who participated in the march, which ended at the Charles R. Jonas Federal Courthouse Building on West Trade Street.
Tina Witt, organizer of the Charlotte March for Life, expressed her thanks to all who attended, funded and prayed for the march.
"Keep on praying...keep on marching, and one day you will march into Heaven!" she wrote in an email to supporters afterwards.
— SueAnn Howell, staff writer
Patricia Guilfoyle and Kimberly Bender contributed to this article.
See more photos from the March for Life on the Diocese of Charlotte's YouTube channel.
Click here to read about the Mass for the Unborn, also held Jan. 13.
Prayer for the unborn
Thirty-nine years ago with its decision in Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion – the killing of unborn children. Since then, more than 1 million babies have been murdered each year in the U.S. To help stop the anti-life push around the world, Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen encouraged the spiritual adoption of an unborn child by composing this brief prayer:
"Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I love you very much. I beg you to spare the life of the unborn baby that I have spiritually adopted who is in danger of abortion. Amen."
Through this prayer, we can ask that one particular but unknown child's life be spared from abortion. To help accomplish this, it is recommended that we say the prayer daily for nine months.
To learn more, go online to www.spiritualadoption.org.
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