By Pat Gregoric
On Thursday, January 20, 2022, Catherine Donohoe, Kate McNally, Madeleine Santangelo-Palumbo and Pat Gregoric drove to Washington, DC to participate in the 49th annual March for Life and other pro-life activities. That afternoon in our hotel, The Renaissance, we attended several panel discussions during the annual Life and Law Summit. Fr. Frank Pavone opened the session with prayer. Attorneys from St. Thomas More Society talked about pro-life cases won or still pending. They also explained what would be necessary to overturn Roe.
Lauren Muzyka, and other members of Sidewalk Advocates explained how they offer training and support for persons who feel called to stand in front of their local abortion facility and offer real help. Missy Stone spoke about a new pro-life organization, Reprotection, which helps individuals identify health violations at abortion facilities and provide strategies to shut them down. This stops abortions and the medical harm done to women. Reprotection has already closed 20 abortion facilities.
Thursday night we attended one of the first fundraisers of the weekend, The Vans for Life Dinner, held at the Trump Hotel. The goal of the event was to raise money for sonogram vans. At present, there are some vans stationed near abortion facilities where women can get free ultrasounds. This has had a tremendous impact on some women and they kept their babies. The success of this caused several abortion facilities to close and it is hoped that money raised could expand the fleet. Tim Tebow was the guest speaker. His mixture of gospel, football stories and pro-life exhortation made for humor and seriousness about being pro-life advocates.
Friday morning, we attended a traditional Latin Mass in our hotel celebrated by Benedictine monks from New Mexico. It was different from Mass as we know it, but the sound of the Gregorian Chant was lovely. Then it was off for some downtime to prepare ourselves for the day‘s main event, the March for Life. We dressed in warm clothes and, wrapped in scarves, hats and gloves, braved the 20-something degree cold. We walked to the start of the March to meet up with the Students for Life of America. Father Pavone was there to bless the marchers and we had some time to speak with him. Cathy and Madeleine were interviewed by Reuters. Those who enthusiastically, peacefully and prayerfully marched came from all over the country and many international marchers joined in -- some 50,000 to 100,000 strong.
The evening’s event included a trip to the Omni Hotel which was headquarters for the Students for Life who were hosting a weekend-long training summit. Throughout the weekend there were interesting workshops for the students on chemical abortions, how to protect your pro-life group on campus, the human dignity debate, serving women and saving lives, etc. The presentations were from The Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom, Human Coalition, and Center for Academic Freedom, to name a few.
We had dinner with some of the students and Cathy met up with a member of her Bridge to Life board of directors, Kate Maloney, and with Norvilia Etienne, both now working for SFLA. We listened to brief talks by some of the student leaders and later that evening attended a private showing of the film, Life Mark, which will open in theaters later this year. It’s a great film inspired by a true story. Please go see it.
Back at our hotel we sat in the lounge and chatted about the events of the day. We saw guests leaving the Rose Dinner Gala, a major fundraiser for the march. We talked with Rebecca Kiessling, from Remember the One, and Cathy introduced us to Michele Sterlace-Accorsi from Feminists Choosing Life of New York.
Saturday we were lucky to have sunny skies for a safe drive back to New York. How could one pass up the opportunity to have breakfast at Cracker Barrel? So we didn’t. On the whole, the weekend was very positive, life affirming and educational as we learned many new ways for promoting life. It was also very gratifying to see the actions of Students for Life. We left seeing that the pro-life message is in good hands.
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