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Feb. 8, 2017

By Kristina Dean
Staff writer

WASHINGTON D.C. -- When I was a young girl, one of my fears was I wouldn’t marry the right person, and I March for lifewould regret my decision. But when my 29-year-old self, white-gowned and veiled, walked on the arm of my father down the aisle to the man I would marry, an absolute certainty settled on me. I knew in my heart-of-hearts that God meant for me to marry this man.

On Friday, walking down Constitution Avenue in the 2017 National March for Life - with more than half a million others in winter coats, hats and gloves holding signs and chanting for life -complete and total certainty enveloped me. I was meant to be there. This was God’s will.

My fellow marchers included young, old, those in baby strollers, in wheelchairs, men, women, priests, nuns, and families of all races. Some walked briskly, some strolled, some shuffled. Some wore matching shirts, brightly colored hats. Some carried signs with pro-life messages or pictures of Our Lady.

We marched as one, for one reason. Protesting the 44-year-old Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision, a sea of marchers, a tide of life in our nation’s capital, was rising, rippling and cresting upon Capitol Hill for hours.
And it was cold. The chilly wind blew around and over us, lifting songs and chants over our heads to awaiting ears.

And there was something else I heard in the air. Something called hope.

Prior to the march, we listened to Vice President Mike Pence promise he and the president “would not rest until we restore the culture of life in America.”

Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway said the president would appoint a pro-life Supreme Court justice within the week.

Emotion poured out around me as those previously unheard, unappreciated and unwanted marchers heard Mr. Pence thank them for standing for life, and for their compassion and love for women and children of America. Tears were shed and voices cracked from joyful cheering.

March for lifeIn between hope and joyful cheering, underlying everything was love. Love was the reason we were there. Love for all women and babies. Love for fathers. Love for families. The only hate I witnessed that day consisted of a handful of anti-protestors standing on corners with microphones strangely proclaiming Roman Catholics were abominations.

That day of walking, seven miles in all, caused more than sore muscles in me. I feel a change that’s still settling in my bones; I have yet to fully absorb it.

Although I know all life is precious it seems that marching for it has submerged the idea deeply into my spirit, into my heart.

We defend the unborn because God has created a soul in them that has unique and special gifts for the world. He has created a distinctive little soul that is designed to develop and use their gifts over a lifetime for the betterment of others. For the good of the world. At God’s time and place of choosing.

As in Jeremiah 1:5, before He formed us in the womb, He knew us. And He greatly loves us, no matter what.
When I ponder this, I realize that once you see life in this manner, everything changes. If all life is precious, then everyone is precious and deserving of love. It doesn’t matter who they are or where they are from or how much they make or what color skin they have. It doesn’t matter if I don’t like them, or if they are annoying, or hateful or drive me crazy.

Earlier, our group consisting of youth and their chaperones from across the diocese, attended Mass at the St. John Paul II shrine.

While there, kneeling among the white columns and glittering mosaics of saints and scripture stories, I experienced a small, quick glimpse inside God’s love. I felt how tremendous His love is for me, for us.

It was so overwhelming that I could barely wrap my mind around it. It made me think of my promise to my youngest son, who at his naughtiest moments, will often say, “But you do love me no matter what, right mom?” And I always tell him yes.

If I, a flawed human mother, can love her son unconditionally, how much more does our Supreme Creator love us? We are special. We are individual. We are uniquely created. And we are loved tremendously.

From conception through natural death and into the afterlife, our souls are eternally meant to be with God forever in peace, joy and love.

So, for this love, this promise, we march. And we hope. And we know in all certainty that we do God’s will to defend life. We are the tides of change.

And we pray that next year, our March For Life will be a March Of Life.

March for life

Two Youth Buses for Life with 106 passengers traveled from the Diocese of Ogdensburg to Washington, D.C., for the 2017 March for Life Jan. 27.  They are pictured on the steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Chaplains on the buses, organized by John and  Colleen Miner, diocesan directors of respect life ministry, were Fathers Mark Reilly, Thomas Higman and Joseph Giroux.

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