Hundreds from Diocese join historic ‘March for Life’

“We were blessed to have a perfect day,” said Candee Holzman of St. Columbkill Parish, Boyertown. “I've been there for the last dozen years or so and I really believe this drew the largest crowd yet.”

Holzman and her group were among hundreds of Catholics from the Diocese of Allentown at the March for Life Jan. 24 in Washington, D.C., observing the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized most forms of abortion on demand.

Attendance estimates ranged from tens of thousands to more than 100,000.

This year’s march was also highlighted by U.S. President Donald Trump as the first president to speak in person at the march.

“It's easy to feel alone as a pro-lifer in the secular world,” said Holzman, “but when you attend the march, you feel anything but alone and realize there's great hope for our country.

“The magnitude of the event hits you especially when you're walking up Capitol Hill and all you can see for blocks and blocks ahead of you, as well as behind you, are marchers.

Holzman also noted that Deacon Joe Petrauskas was the group’s spokesperson for a phone-in interview on WAEB AM790 as they were enroute to the march.

Students attend Mass

“The best part was the celebration of Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at the Baltimore Basilica of the Assumption,” said Father Mark Searles, chaplain of Allentown Central Catholic High School (ACCHS).

“This historic church is America's first cathedral, so it is a perfect place to pray for our nation and an end to the genocide of abortion in America.”

Celebrant was Father Gene Ritz, chaplain of Notre Dame High School, Easton. Homilist was Father Brian Miller, chaplain of Marian High School, Tamaqua.

Concelebrants were: Father Allen Hoffa, pastor of St. Joseph, Summit Hill; Father Stephan Isaac, chaplain of Berks Catholic High School, Reading; Father Frans Berkhout, chaplain of St. Luke’s University Health Network, Bethlehem; and Father Searles.

“Notre Dame, ACCHS, Berks Catholic and Marian high schools all had a great number of students present to fill the church and pray together before the march,” said Father Searles.

“The march itself was bigger than ever before. We felt the vast increase in the number of marchers from across the country, but as always, the march has a very peaceful and prayerful character.

“A few ACCHS students were able to travel to Washington the night before to attend the Pro-Life Vigil at Catholic University and the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. They had a great experience with other high school groups and were able to attend the speeches before the march.

“President Trump's words of encouragement were also very welcome and inspiring for many of our young people, emphasizing the dignity and value of every human life, especially those most vulnerable, the unborn.”

Memorable experience

“St. Jane Frances de Chantal Respect Life Ministry and Knights of Columbus Council 345 made our bus trip possible to the 2020 Right for Life March,” said Andrew Azan of St. Jane Frances de Chantal Parish, Easton. “Fifty-one faithful riders attended, included several first-time individuals.

“In a matter of minutes, the grounds were packed to hear President Trump speak. Overheard many times was ‘Thank you President Trump’ for his brave stance for life and the unborn.

“As we approached the top of the hill, we looked back down to a beautiful sight of the massive number of individuals and groups in support of life.

“A Penn State college student, Andrew, graduate of Phillipsburg High School (New Jersey), who attended the march by himself, read our banner stating that our group was from Easton … marched with us and made our day.

“Our first-time passengers said it was a most memorable experience. It is amazing to speak to other groups and individuals who come from much farther distances to Washington, D.C. and share the same values – ‘Life is a gift from God.’”


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