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Virginians March for Life in Richmond

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This article has been updated.

After extreme abortion bills in New York and the introduction of similar legislation in Virginia, members of the pro-life community wanted to bring attention to the fight for life in the commonwealth. The Virginia March for Life drew more than 7,000 people to Richmond April 3. 

Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge celebrated a 7 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington as part of a statewide March for Life event held in Richmond.

“The darkness is in our midst, but we do not despair. Instead, we begin this day in the most perfect way,” Bishop Burbidge said, reminding the congregation that “God will never let our sacrifices or our witness be in vain.”

Richmond Bishop Barry C. Knestout celebrated Mass at the Richmond Convention Center before the rally.

“Today you are in exactly the right place doing what needs to be done which is to pray. Because God can change hearts and overcome the current culture of death,” he said. “We have gone down a destructive road in this country and need the light of Christ to lead us back to life and love.”

Carmen Briceno, a consecrated virgin from Manassas and a Catholic Herald columnist, spoke to attendees, particularly youths, between the Mass and the rally.

“Where do we go from here? This is an amazing first step. Remember your own dignity, remember your own worth so you can be convinced of the worth of the unborn,” she said. “Uphold the dignity of others. Young people have the power to change the dynamics and be their voice.”

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The event was sponsored by March for Life, the Virginia Catholic Conference, the Family Foundation and the Virginia Society for Human Life. 

Speakers included Melissa Ohden, a survivor of a saline infusion abortion in 1977; Ryan Bomberger, founder of the Radiance Foundation; Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life; Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation; Olivia Gans Turner, president of the VSHL; and Felicia Pricenor, VCC associate director.

People attended the march from across the commonwealth. 

“I came here to protest because we believe all life is sacred from conception,” said Elizabeth Belleville, a mother of 12 and parishioner of St. John the Evangelist Church in Warrenton. 

Amy Jo Krystek, a parishioner of St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Chincoteague Island, recognized the many pro-life causes. “I recently lost my prayer partner to euthanasia,” she said. “It is more than just marching for the unborn. That is our top priority but there is also a significant portion of the population that we are disposing of that is very valuable.”

Kay School, whose husband, Michael, is the director of the Office for Evangelization in Richmond, brought her family. “As a family we feel it’s important to uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church and show the dignity of all people, that it is wrong to end life, especially of the unborn who don’t have a voice,” she said. “It is important for us to say it together as a family, and it’s nice to see the kids forming their own opinions about the quality of life and how important it is.” 

After the March, people were invited to attend Richmond 101, an educational program to learn about the legislative process in Virginia and how to get involved. The panel discussion included representatives from the Family Foundation, the VCC and the VSHL. Jeff Caruso, VCC executive director, offered tips on how to navigate the process during Virginia General Assembly Sessions, telling attendees things move quickly. “To advocate, use email, social media, phone calls and personal visits,” he said. 

According to Caruso, legislators convened during the march for their veto session to consider the governor’s vetoes and proposed amendments to bills. “In one of his proposed amendments, the governor had attempted to undo the new restrictions against abortion funding that the General Assembly had adopted in February. But his attempt failed 50-45 in the House,” said Caruso. “The state budget bill therefore goes back to the governor’s desk with the essential Hyde Amendment restrictions against abortion funding fully intact. A fitting end to an amazing day.” 

 

 

 

 

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