March for Life: a march of love for little ones

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The sun shone bright on the National Mall as marchers from far and wide waited for the start of the 45th annual March for Life Jan. 19. This year’s march, the largest pro-life demonstration in the United States, had a notable first. 

Slideshow: Life is VERY Good and the March for Life

It was the first time that a U.S. president spoke to marchers live via satellite from the White House. President Donald Trump thanked the marchers for their dedication to defending life and promised to do the same in his administration.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge led a large contingent of pro-lifers from parishes and schools from throughout the Diocese of Arlington.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Reps. Dan Lipinksi, D-Ill., and Chris Smith, R-N.J., spoke to the marchers on the mall.

Ryan credited the rise of the pro-life generation with the fact that truth, science and love are on their side. 

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash, told the moving story about her unborn baby who was diagnosed with Potter Syndrome, which prevents the fetus from developing kidneys. Beutler and her husband were told it was a fatal condition. Instead of giving up and turning to abortion, Beutler decided to fight for her baby. With the help of an experimental treatment, Beutler said Abigale became the first baby to survive having been born without kidneys. She later received a kidney donation from her father. Abigale, now 4 years old, joined her mother on stage to witness to the miracle of life.

Seton School

Seton School in Manassas usually has the day off so students can attend the march, but thanks to donated buses, this was the first time the student body was able to travel together. 

The trip was organized by Ashley Cackett, a senior and president of the school’s Sacred Life Club. 

“It’s extremely important to me because we are part of a family who fosters children,” said Cackett. “My youngest sister was adopted in 2014 but she started out as a foster child.” 

Cackett said that her adopted and foster siblings brought special joy to her especially when she had to go through two rounds of brain surgery. 

“Those small lives that seem so inconsequential to so many people just completely changed my life, so it is so hard to believe that those lives don’t mean anything to some people,” she said.

Cackett was accompanied by her mom, Maria, who teaches math at Seton and serves as faculty adviser to the Sacred Life Club. 

“This was (Ashley’s) goal as president,” said Maria Cackettt. “Instead of staying home, these 100 students chose to get on a bus and come out. We don’t really have to argue or stand up within our pro-life school, so I feel it is even more of a responsibility for us to witness to everyone why we are a pro-life generation and how sacred life is.”

Many parishes from around the diocese attended the March this year. Tom McGraw came with four busloads of parishioners from All Saints Church in Manassas. He has been coming to the march since he was a child in the 1970s.

“It was an important day for my family to teach me the importance of the pro-life movement, meet likeminded people, and try to understand the evil of abortion and what can be done to change it. It has to be a change of people’s hearts,” said McGraw. “Now as a dad myself, I can try and bring my children here so they can learn what I did growing up.” 

This year, the Fr. Diamond Knights of Columbus Council in Fairfax collected more than $42,000 to defer the costs of next year’s march. The Knights, who collect money at the march every year, will present a check to March for Life President Jeanne Mancini next month. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018