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    A Drive for Life

    Illinois Knights helped adapt the March for Life Chicago into a car procession, rally and pregnancy resource drive during the COVID-19 pandemic

    A Knight from Divine Word Council 7331 directs traffic during the March for Life Chicago’s car procession. (Spirit Juice Studios)

    More than 9,000 participants lined the downtown streets during the March for Life Chicago in January 2020. Nearly a year later, the event — one of the largest annual pro-life demonstrations in the United States — faced the threat of cancelation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    But Mark Kollar, head marshal for the march, and a member of the Knights of Columbus, was determined to keep the event alive. As the board of directors considered hosting an online rally, Kollar insisted that such an event wouldn’t be enough.

    “You’ve got to have people on the ground because people are inspired by what we’re doing here,” said Kollar, a member of Divine Word Council 7331 in Techny, Ill. “We can’t stop when there’s terror. We have to step forward.”

    Putting aside ideas of an online event, the leadership team decided to organize a car procession and rally. Participants would drive in their vehicles from St. John Cantius Church to Chicago City Hall, where pro-life speakers would address them. They would then make their way to the Southside Pregnancy Center in Evergreen Park.

    Planning the first ever car rally for the March for Life Chicago would be a daunting task, but Kollar reassured the event’s organizers. “‘Don’t worry,’ I said, ‘the Knights will handle this.’”

    Together with the Archdiocese of Chicago and WeDignify, a pro-life student organization, Council 7331 recruited and organized volunteers, set up stages and audio equipment, directed traffic, and handed out pro-life signs. More than 50 Knights volunteered.

    “I think this is the defining struggle of our generation — to call abortion what it is: it’s evil, and it’s pervasive and it has a ripple effect throughout our society,” said Michael Berg, a member of Council 7331. “The Church is really the one institution in the world that has not wavered on this core truth. And the fact that people don’t accept life as a gift, that it’s something we can just throw away, is tragic.”

    But Berg was pleased to see participants young and old. Kollar, too, was happy with the turnout, crediting the Holy Spirit for making the event possible. In total, there were more than 500 in the procession. One car in particular stood out to the head marshal — a car filled with religious sisters.

    “They were all packed in, they had these little signs they were holding up and they were so thrilled. We said, ‘The Knights love the nuns!’ They put all the windows down to go, ‘The nuns love the Knights!’ I’ll never forget it.”

    At the end of the procession, participants were invited to donate supplies to be used at pregnancy resource centers across the Midwest. More than 156,000 diapers were collected and delivered to 20 centers, surpassing the organizers’ goal by 25,000.

    For their achievements, Council 7331 received the Life Program Award during the 139th Supreme Convention. Father Dennis Callan, the council’s chaplain, conveyed that members of the council were surprised by the recognition.

    “You don’t realize the impact that you have, and the inspiration that this core group of men can have on others,” he said. “I’m hoping that it will continue to inspire other councils as well, to do their best to promote life in whatever way.”

    Watch a brief video highlighting Council 7331’s support for the March for Life Chicago.

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