By Maria Wiering
Sophomore Sean Lynch was among the first students at Archbishop Curley High School to sign up for this year’s March for Life in Washington, D.C. He went to the annual event for the first time last year, and the experience changed his understanding of abortion, he said.
“Before (the march) I never thought that deeply into it, and what was actually happening,” he said. “Now I know so much more about it.”
The Baltimore all-male high school hopes to send 80 students to the march on the National Mall Jan. 25 and accompanying youth rally and Mass for Life, held at the Verizon Center. The group will be the largest Curley has ever sent, said the school chaplain, Conventual Franciscan Father Matthew Foley.
“I think a lot of our guys will come to the march for a day off from school and a trip to Washington, D.C., and they get surprised in the process,” he said. “It becomes a real, lived faith experience for them. It becomes personalized.”
In the past 16 years, Father Foley has missed the march only once. As a priest, he has developed a deeper sense of sorrow and compassion for women suffering from an abortion, he said.
“They’re still bearing some of that sorrow, sadness, guilt five, 10, 30 years later,” he said. “During the election you hear sound bites, you hear numbers that abortion rates are going down, and I think it’s possible to lose (sight of the fact) that there’s real people involved. Real live women who are grieving, and needing healing and holiness and happiness and joy.”
The annual march commemorates the Jan. 22 anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in all 50 states. This year’s march marks the decision’s 40th anniversary.
The first march in 1974 attracted 20,000 pro-life advocates. The event has grown over the decades, and unofficial estimates put the 2011 and 2012 marches at more than 400,000 people. The event attracts people of all ages.
Curley students Nick Quasny and Michael Remeikis attended last year’s march and said they were surprised by the large size of the crowd and large contingency of young people, both at the Verizon Center and on the National Mall.
Going to the march “gave me a chance to stand up for something I believe in and gives me a chance to show people why I think (abortion) is wrong,” said Remeikis, a junior and parishioner of Our Lady of Hope in Dundalk.
Lynch said he was surprised to see as many men at last year’s march as women, since abortion is often painted as a “women’s issue” and the role of an unborn baby’s father is often overlooked in abortion debates and policies.
“With all the guys there, it felt good to have a say in it, too,” he said. “The girls don’t get pregnant by themselves, so I don’t think they should have to make the decision by themselves.”
Father Foley said the march “plants seeds” for opportunities attendees may have to change hearts and minds on the issue.
Nearly 1,300 young people from the Archdiocese of Baltimore are expected to attend the march, said D. Scott Miller, director of the archdiocesan Division of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. Most are attending with school or parish groups.
In Maryland, a statewide March for Life is planned for March 11 in Annapolis.
Related articles: Forty years after Roe v Wade, pro-life movement strengthens its resolve
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