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Catholics line the streets for 30th annual Life Chain

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The 30th annual Life Chain brought Catholics across the Diocese of Arlington together with people of other faiths to pray for an end to abortion.

In Alexandria, some drivers honked with waves of encouragement, while others gave an opposite response. “When we get the negative reactions, (we know) it comes from a place of hurt,” said Lauren Handy, a parishioner of St. Raymond of Peñafort Church in Springfield. She is a pro-life missionary and runs Mercy Missions DC, which “works to advance human dignity through servant evangelization,” according to its website.

Life Chain was started in 1997 by Please Let Me Live, a small pro-life ministry based 45 miles north of Sacramento, Calif. The first Life Chain drew more than 2,000 participants.

Dominique Murray hoped someone might change their mind about abortion as they witnessed people standing in the Life Chain. She and her family, parishioners of St. Raymond, have participated for several years. “I am very blessed that my husband, David, is here with my son, leading the way and showing the example of what real manhood is — protecting the unborn.”

Mary Flaherty, a parishioner of St. Lawrence Church in Alexandria, said it was sad that the Life Chain was in its 30th year. “We need to pray,” she said. “Hearts and minds need to be changed, but the important thing is getting out the message about what abortion really is and what happens during an abortion procedure.”

Chuck Zakrzwski, a parishioner of St. Mary Church in Alexandria, said life issues are one of the most important issues people face today. “Making a stand for life is important,” he said. “For people who are pro-life and afraid to speak it, I think it is important to publicly show there are other like-minded people and that they are not alone. That’s one of the biggest things an event like this does — to encourage and support those who are pro-life but not vocal about it or do not take action.”

Father Joseph D.Q. Vu, parochial vicar of St. Bernadette Church in Springfield, said the Life Chain is an event where people pay respect to the unborn and at the same time are aware of the other victims of abortion. “Mothers or fathers who have made the decisions for different reasons, we know they are hurt as well,” he said. “We stand as witnesses and extend love and mercy to them and let them know there’s always hope. They can always come back to be reconciled to God and to one another, as well.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017