Pro-Life From Coast to Coast
1/1/2018by Joseph Pronechen
Dozens of annual marches demonstrate the momentum of the pro-life movement across the United States
Not everyone can make the trip to the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. But since 1974, a steady stream of companion marches has grown. Now more than 60 local marches take place across the United States, allowing many more thousands to take a stand for life.
For instance, approximately 10,000 people participate in the Dallas March for Life, which started in 2002. That event begins with Mass and includes a rally at the Earle Cabell Federal Courthouse, the site where Roe v. Wade was first filed in 1970.
In Florida, March for Life St. Augustine, which was founded in 2007 with 700 participants, now draws 3,500 from as far as Miami and Savannah, Ga.
Denver’s annual Celebrate Life Rally and March attracts more than 5,000 people annually. Numerous smaller marches take place in cities like Concord, N.H., and Charlotte, N.C.
There is at least one case of a pro-life march that predates the annual event in Washington. Laurence and Marge Theriault, who served on the Illinois Right to Life committee at the time, helped launch the first march in Chicago in 1972, a year before the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.
“We had kids marching from all the Catholic schools during Respect Life Week,” recalled Laurence, a member of Father John J. Dussman Council 3731 in Glenview, Ill. “It was a very joyful march because we wanted to celebrate life.”
The Chicago March for Life is now the largest pro-life event in the Midwest, regularly drawing more than 5,000 people from Illinois and surrounding states, even during the coldest winters.
Meanwhile, one of the newest pro-life events is also one of the largest. The OneLife LA celebration, launched by Archbishop José H. Gomez in 2015, grew out of the Los Angeles March for Life established 11 years earlier.
In 2003, John Costello, a member of Van Nuys (Calif.) Council 3148, was disturbed by the following statement on a Christian radio program: “There have been over 30 million abortions in the past 30 years, and most Christians have done little or nothing about it.”
A short time later, Costello was asked to head the prolife committee for Council 3148. He soon co-founded the Los Angeles March for Life with then-Grand Knight John Riordan and Julie Ball, director of the Pregnancy Counseling Center in Mission Hills, Calif. In March 2004, some 700 showed up to walk along busy Ventura Boulevard to give a public witness for life.
“We were pioneers in the state of California,” Costello said.
Eventually, the annual event transformed into today’s archdiocesan OneLife LA event. Now, under Archbishop Gomez’s leadership, OneLife LA is drawing huge crowds.
“Archbishop Gomez is an outstanding leader and advocate of the culture of life,” affirmed Richard Marciniak, the K of C culture of life chairman for Southern California and a member of the OneLife LA organizing committee. “We’re expecting 20,000-30,000 people this year.”
He added that, in addition to participating with their families and serving as marshals, Knights promote the event throughout the archdiocese and remain “a leading force for the march."
JOSEPH PRONECHEN is a staff writer for EWTN’s National Catholic Register.