Annual March for Life takes place in Chicago Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018 -- 12:00 AM
chicago march for life
Participants in Chicago’s March for Life lead 6,000 people down Dearborn Ave. on January 14. The annual events marks the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision to legalize abortion in all 50 states. To view or purchase photos, go to (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

CHICAGO, Ill. -- Hand warmers? Check.

Multiple layers of clothing? Check.

Pro-life signs? Check.

Love? Double check.

As buses from all over Wisconsin and the Midwest headed toward Chicago on January 14, its passengers were well prepared for their mission that day.

They, along with 6,000 fellow pro-lifers, were heading to the annual March for Life, held every year, since 2005, near the anniversary of the January 1973 Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion in all 50 states.

The theme of this year’s march was, “Love saves lives”.

Pro-Life Wisconsin, an organization dedicated to the care and protection of the most vulnerable persons in our society, sponsored seven buses that left from different parts of the state.

One bus departed from the east side of Madison in the morning.

The nearly 40 passengers were a wide range of ages.

Eighteen-year-old Phoebe Atkinson from Edgewood High School in Madison was no stranger to Marches for Life in Washington, D.C. -- held every year since 1974 -- and other cites in the U.S., but it was her first time going to the march in Chicago.

“Once didn’t solve the issue, so we’re going to march until it is solved,” Atkinson said. She called marching for life an important cause, adding, “It’s just one day out of our entire year.”

Sixteen-year-old Ian Sande, a student from Jefferson High School, made his second trip to the Chicago march.

“We’re the pro-life generation,” Sande said. “We’re going to need a lot more of us to make a statement.”

He added, “It’s just really amazing exercising our First Amendment rights, sticking up for the unborn when they can’t stick up for themselves.”

En route to Chicago, the passengers prayed a Rosary for Life and the Litany to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Saving lives with love

As morning turned to afternoon, Federal Plaza in Chicago transformed itself into a pro-life headquarters.

Members of parishes, schools, and lay organizations all began to gather in the plaza, many with their own distinctive signage, representing their groups.

As many of the participants got off buses across the street, they were met by the sounds of pro-choice supporters who used the occasion to also displays their signs and voice their opinions.

Chicago Police were on hand to make sure everyone exercising their constitutional rights were able to do so in a safe environment.

Prior to the march, everyone in attendance heard several speakers sharing their thoughts on the pro-life movement.

Sheila Liaugminas, host of Relevant Radio’s A Closer Look, served as the emcee.

“Welcome to this marvelous event,” she said. “Pro-life people everywhere turn out with this kind of joy for life.”

She welcomed those gathered from Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, and South Dakota and celebrated what she called a “movement” across the country to “eradicate abortion”.

Liaugminas then led a moment of silence for the lives lost to abortion.

His Grace Paul Gassios of Chicago and the Midwest in the Orthodox Church in America then led a prayer and reflection.

“We ask our Lord to grant to the people of this nation the will to do good, to flee evil, and to make us respectful of life,” Bishop Paul said. “Let us reach out with compassion to those who have had an abortion and help them heal from this act to see that there’s a pathway to reconciliation because love does save lives.”

Pat McCaskey, owner of the NFL’s Chicago Bears, introduced as a “very staunchly pro-life man,” spoke next, using Shakespearian-influenced poetics to communicate his thoughts.

“God gives us friends who are March for Life friends who will march for the right we adore. Start us with 10 who are March for Life friends and we’ll soon gather 10,000 more . . . We must follow the voice of Jesus Christ from conception to a natural death . . . I see you friends ready to march, strength for the march, the march is today, follow the spirit and upon this cry . . . love saves lives.”

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago said, “Your enthusiasm and your presence here radiates great warmth even on this very frigid day making clear the commitment of thousands of people from all backgrounds, faiths, and walks of life are here to defend and protect human life in every stage and development.”

He also thanked young people for being at the march, saying, “You give us confidence that the energy to protect the child in the womb has not grown weak over these 45 years, but it is youthful and strong and vibrant just as you are.”

Ramona Trevino, former manager of a Planned Parenthood facility in Texas, was the keynote speaker and celebrated the theme of love, saying, “It is love that bring us here today. It is our very love of neighbors as ourselves that keeps us marching and fighting for 45 years now. It is love that brings us out to the abortion facilities to pray.

“It is love that reaches out to a woman in crisis to say to her, ‘I’m here for you, and I can offer you real help.’ It is love that brings us to our knees to pray to prevent the slaughter of our most vulnerable brothers and sisters in the womb. It is love that wants to spare mothers and fathers from a lifetime of pain and regret that an abortion will bring.”

She added a message to Planned Parenthood of, “Stop perpetuating this lie that woman need abortion. Women do not need abortion.”

Other religious leaders and Illinois state and federal lawmakers spoke, including Bishop Donald J. Hying of Gary, Ind., former auxiliary bishop of Milwaukee.

Marching for life

Led by area college students with yellow “LIFE” shirts and balloons, along with the marching band from Carmel Catholic High School in nearby Mundelein, the march, with police escort, walked north on Dearborn Ave., then Randolph to La Salle St., to Jackson and back to Federal Plaza.

The route was 1.25 miles long and marchers carried their signs and chanted sayings such as, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Roe v. Wade has got to go.”

The counter-protesters also followed on the sidewalk next to the march, but their numbers had greatly dwindled by this point.

Some participants prayed a Rosary individually or as a group as the march went on.

Many took selfies to post to March for Life social media.

As the marchers returned to Federal Plaza, they soon departed and went back to their homes to continue the pro-life mission.

Some will be in Washington, D.C., for the March for Life there on Friday, Jan. 19.

Nearer home, others will be at Madison’s March for Life on Monday, Jan. 22.

For more information on that event, go to

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