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The Catholic New World
Pro-lifers march for life here, and in Washington

Catholics from the archdiocese of Chicago made their voices heard on Roe v. Wade Jan. 20-22, the weekend of the 34th annual March for Life.

Many pro-life advocates who could not travel to Washington D.C. gathered the afternoon of Jan. 21 for 12:30 Mass at Holy Name Cathedral, then had their own march to the Water Tower at Michigan and Chicago avenues, where they held a vigil.

Despite competing with the Chicago Bears' NFC Championship game, the event drew about 100 people, according to Emily Hergenrother, one of the organizers.

Participants included Knights of Columbus; staff and volunteers from the Women's Center, a crisis pregnancy center; and students from Moody Bible Institute.

But the local march might not have been as large as the contingent that journeyed to Washington D.C.

"It was a great trip," said Father James Presta, rector of St. Joseph College Seminary. "It was invigorating to see so many people gather for such an important cause. Twenty-two of our seminarians, 29 from Mundelein, and Cardinal George as well as a big contingent from the Archdiocese of Chicago-they did us all so proud!"

About 200 mostly young people took the Respect Life Office's bus pilgrimage, leaving Jan. 19 and returning Jan. 23. The pilgrims visited the John Paul II Cultural Center, had a question-and-answer session with Cardinal George and Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, attended the Vigil for Life Mass at the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, and participated in a youth rally and Mass at the MCI center in addition to the march itself. Cardinal George was among the celebrants at the Masses.

Gabriel Vazquez, a sophomore at Dominican University in River Forest, went on the bus pilgrimage. "My family has taught me that life is a treasure given by God that should be cherished by all," he said. This was his first time at the march. "It was amazing to see that there were a lot of people that care about life," he said.

Many other groups traveled on their own, some staying among hundreds of other pilgrims in the crypt below the basilica where the vigil Mass was.

"After going that first year, I promised God that I would go every year," said Paula Vering, who first went in 2000. "The first time that I went, I was in awe of everything: all of the different people, all of the different races, all of the different religions."

Pro-life advocates in Illinois got some good news Jan. 22, when it was reported that Attorney General Lisa Madigan had asked for regulations to be able to start enforcing a 1995 Illinois law requiring minors to notify their parents before having an abortion. The law had languished after the Illinois Supreme Court did not write guidelines for girls to be able to get permission from the courts to bypass their parents; the court released such guidelines last year.

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