Pro-Life Procession set for Jan. 20
Marchers focus on prayer, peace, awareness

The diocesan Respect Life Apostolate is organizing a peaceful and prayerful march on Saturday, Jan. 20 in downtown McAllen to promote a message of life and hope in our community. All are invited to march and give witness to life. Prayer groups, church groups, Catholic schools, families and individuals are welcomed and encouraged to attend.

By PAUL BINZ
The Valley Catholic

McALLEN — The sixth annual March for Life, set for Jan. 20 in McAllen, brings together hundreds in support of life.

Organizers of the March for Life are hoping for participation from a broad spectrum of Valley Catholics – parishes, groups and contingents from all four Valley counties.

“It’s a peaceful march; it’s a peaceful, prayerful rosary procession,” said Sylvia Garcia of the Respect Life Apostolate. “Our main goal is to bring awareness of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in this country.”

“We’re praying to overturn Roe vs. Wade,” Deacon Rudy Sepulveda of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in McAllen said.

This year’s march will begin at 9 a.m. at St. Joseph the Worker Parish on South 23rd Street, proceed toward downtown McAllen and then wind up at Sacred Heart Church on South 15th Street. Bishop Daniel E. Flores is scheduled to participate.

“It’s our sixth year of going (downtown) and the main reason we do it … is the awareness,” Garcia said. “People are shopping, they’re hearing the word of God, they’re hearing our prayers. They come up to us and they say, ‘We support you.’ We are against abortion, we’ll get people who say we’re doing a good job. We’ll get honks, thumbs-up.”

Since the Roe vs. Wade ruling in 1973, abortions in the United States – a nation with 325 million living residents – passed the 60 million mark on Dec. 14, according to the www.numberofabortions.com website. Legalized abortion is one of the most contentious issues the United States faces, with opponents and supporters massed firmly in one camp or the other.

“There are people I know involved in the pro-life movement who have children on the other side that same day (of the March for Life), and they’re cheering for that cause. The parents are devastated,” Deacon Sepulveda said. “It hits close to home, in other words. It’s not just a theory up here. The community’s involved, very intimately, personally.”

“Everything that’s going on in the news, everyone is trying to find out what is our moral compass – both sides of the aisle, liberals and conservatives,” Garcia said. “We’re all looking at how society is – our moral values. So this is the time to be more active and sign petitions and call our representatives.”

Organizers say they are seeing another difference today, with more young people becoming involved with the issue – even if divided on their stance.

“This youth that is coming up now is very different than anybody we’ve seen before. These guys are for real – they don’t get scared,” organizer Edwin Rodriguez said. “I’m impressed with them. We need to get them aboard and get them pro-life.”

“This is the time that God has brought us together to bring about this awareness in changing hearts and minds,” Garcia said. “You wouldn’t believe how many young people are marching, lots of young people. We’re seeing a tidal wave of change in hearts and minds.”

Although this will be the sixth year of the downtown march, prayer services in support of life date back much earlier, including a Pro-Life Living Rosary held for several years starting in 2003 at the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle – National Shrine.

The local March for Life is associated with a national movement commemorating the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. The national March for Life on Jan. 18 in Washington, D.C., which has taken place annually since 1974, precedes the McAllen march, and the state March for Life is set for Jan. 27 in Austin.

Organizers welcome participation from everyone who supports life, including non-Catholics.

“It’s going to take the whole community” to overturn Roe vs. Wade, Garcia said.

“Bring your rosary,” one organizer said. “Mother Mary will take care of the rest.”