Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Friday, May 25, 2018

nh-rosary196_feb11Participants in the annual Rosary March for Life pray in front of a courthouse on Jan. 21 in New Haven. The event begins with a Mass and is held in support of the unborn and in solidarity with the March for Life in Washington, which took place on Jan. 24. (Photo by Mary Walsh)

(CNS) – Laura Strietmann, the director of a Cincinnati crisis pregnancy center, calls abortion "the issue that is shaping our country," and said the challenge for pro-lifers is to get everyone "to respect life again."

In her work, she hears the stories of women’s pain and sees pregnant women in need who "are hungry for the truth about abortion," she said. "When they come in the door, we need to love them and tell them the truth," that abortion is taking a life, she added.

Ms. Strietmann, a member of St. Rose Parish in Cincinnati who is enrolled in a lay pastoral program at the archdiocesan seminary, believes no woman really wants to have an abortion but feels she has no other choice.

She spoke to Catholic News Service as she headed toward the March for Life rally site on the National Mall, where thousands of pro-lifers were gathering to mark the 38th year since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down Roe v. Wade legalizing abortion.

Bundled up against the cold, with the temperature hovering in the mid-20s, people streamed toward the rally site from various points, carrying all manner of signs, many of them homemade.

Among the messages were: "Choose life: Your mother did," "Unborn babies feel pain," "Face it: Abortion kills a person," "I regret lost fatherhood" and "Defund Planned Parenthood."

One couple waiting for the rally to begin held identical signs that read: "To the mother of our 4 adopted children: Thank you for their lives."

Chartered buses started arriving around 4:30 a.m. Pro-lifers came in waves throughout the morning and then headed down to the Mall.

Among them were Archbishop Henry J. Mansell of Hartford and many from Connecticut who went on buses organized by the Archdiocese of Hartford’s Pro-Life Ministry and other organizations and parishes statewide.

Archbishop Mansell celebrated the Mass in the morning of the march at the Washington Plaza Hotel, where a number of people from the Archdiocese stayed.

By the Transcript’s press time, March for Life had not yet posted on its Web site an estimate for the number of participants, but the Catholic News Agency and Eternal Word Television Network said there were hundreds of thousands.

Along a block of Pennsylvania Avenue, not too far from the rally site, Deborah Mischenko of Mine-ville, N.Y., had put up a simple display of nine poster-size images – starting with an image of an embryo and the words "I’m here," and going through the development of a fetus in the womb. The final image was of a newborn and the words "I’m here."

Ms. Mischenko, who is with Mountain Meadows Christian Center, told CNS she had received pretty positive reaction from passers-by. "The whole point is you don’t have to argue with these," or even say "abortion," she said.

Before the March for Life rally started, Stephen Kosciesza of Wheaton, Md., walked through the crowd with a sign that read, "Abortion – a neat, quick easy way out for men." He said it described the "selfishness of men who stand to benefit" from abortion.

Before heading to Washington, Archbishop Mansell also was the principal celebrant of a Mass for the Hartford March for Life on Jan. 22 in the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford. Msgr. John J. McCarthy, chancellor, concelebrated.

After the Mass, the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants and other groups sponsored a Rally for Life in Hartford. The rally consisted of prayer, a march to the state Capitol and a program of speakers who talked about the dignity of life.

Other supporting groups for that event were the Connecticut Coalition for Life, Family Institute of Connecticut, Connecticut Right to Life and the St. Gerard’s Center for Life in Hartford.

In solidarity with the March for Life in Washington, the Knights of Columbus San Salvador Council No. 1 sponsored a Mass Jan. 21 at St. Mary Church in New Haven. Recitation of the rosary while walking the streets of New Haven, stopping at the Superior Court, City Hall and Federal Court, followed.

Archbishop Mansell also celebrated Mass on Jan. 16 at St. Mary Church in New Haven.

Sponsored annually by the State Council of Knights of Columbus, the Mass was followed by a baby shower, at which baby clothes and other items were collected.

– Roberta Tuttle also contributed to this story.