Local marchers attend Mass before leaving for March for Life
Story and photo by Carolee McGrath
CHICOPEE – Hundreds of people from across western Massachusetts met at St. Stanislaus Basilica in Chicopee, before heading out for the March for Life in Washington, D.C.
Marchers attended eucharistic adoration and a special March for Life Mass before they left for the overnight bus trip. This year commemorates 40 years since Roe v. Wade, the controversial Supreme Court decision, which legalized abortion in all 50 states.
“The 40th year, it’s terrible it has come to this. It’s a tragedy beyond measure and beyond compare,” said Tim Biggins, the chair of the Pro-Life Commission for the Diocese of Springfield. “We need to always present a faithful witness to the Gospel of life which is what all of these pilgrims do. All these youth can’t be fooled by the lies and (they) know the truth about life”
Five buses left from St. Stanislaus Basilica. Groups also left from other parishes throughout the diocese, joining more than 100,000 marchers in the nation’s capitol, to be a voice for the unborn.
Sixteen-year-old Mary Towsley, the youngest of 11 children, was traveling with a group of her friends from the San Damiano Youth Group at St. Stanislaus.
“I do have hope this year. Forty is a symbolic number,” Towsley said. “I’m hoping and praying that this will really make a difference.”
Prior to the 1973 Supreme Court ruling, abortion was illegal in many states and restricted in others. The decision in the companion case, Doe v. Bolton, handed down the same day, stated a woman could have an abortion after viability, if her health was at risk. The justices broadened the definition of health to include emotional and psychological health and a woman’s age, essentially allowing abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy.
Norma McCorvey, who was Jane Roe, the original plaintiff in the case, never had an abortion. Many years later, she had a conversion on the issue and became a Catholic. She is now a pro-life advocate.
According to the National Right to Life organization, since 1973, more that 55 million babies have been aborted in the United States.
“I think it’s very important. We’re fighting for lives and our future,” said Andrew Laverdiere, a senior at Chicopee Comprehensive High School. “It’s wrong to kill children. It’s an important cause and I’ve been part of it for a long time.”
Msgr. Christopher Connelly, the vicar general for the Diocese of Springfield celebrated Mass at 8 p.m., prior to the buses departing from Chicopee.
“Forty years is a long time. It might tempt people to say ‘Should we continue to persevere?’ Rather than be discouraged by the fact that it’s the 40th anniversary, like St. Paul, whose feast day is the day of the march, like St. Paul, we forget what lies behind us, we press on to what lies ahead, in a sense, almost more invigorated.”
A video version of this story will be featured on the Jan. 26 edition of “Real to Reel,” to be broadcast at 7 p.m. on WWLP-22NEWS.