By Annaleigh Gidosh
Oct. 16 marked the third annual Pennsylvania March for Life at the State Capitol in Harrisburg. Thousands of individuals from across the commonwealth were present to give witness to the dignity of human life. The Diocese of Allentown was well-represented, with buses from each Catholic high school and three buses carrying individuals from parishes across the Diocese.
One parish bus, leaving from Sacred Heart, Bethlehem, carried individuals from 19 diocesan churches, two Messianic Jewish congregations, and four Protestant communities.
Andrew Azan, a parishioner of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Bethlehem, who has led this bus to the March for Life each year, was thankful to pull together individuals from multiple counties and religious backgrounds for this vital occasion.
Those attending from the Diocese of Allentown first gathered in prayer at St. Mary, Hamburg for a Mass celebrated by Bishop Alfred Schlert. “We know what to do, and we are willing to do it,” said Bishop Schlert in his homily.
Reflecting on the day’s Gospel, Bishop Schlert pointed out how Jesus often criticized people who knew better but did not “do better.”
“We know that human life from conception to natural death is worth defending. We are created in God’s image and likeness, and there is a dignity to human life. Jesus took on human flesh and gave it a completely different and higher dignity. We know that [human life] needs to be respected, and we are willing to make our voices heard today.”
After Mass, each diocesan bus headed to Harrisburg “with the same purpose,” as Bishop Schlert said, “to tell our legislators that the respect for human life is important to us.”
At the march, Dorothy Streenstra, a student at Notre Dame High School, Easton, explained that she came for a fundamental reason. “I am adopted,” she said. “For me, choosing life was a good decision for my mom, and I am thankful every day that my mom did choose life.”
The keynote speaker for the event was David Bereit, founder of the 40 Days for Life movement, responsible for helping start 750 campaigns across the world (including in Allentown and Bethlehem) that have saved over 14,000 children from abortion. He explained he was born in 1968 at McGee Hospital in Pittsburgh, just years before doctors began performing abortions there.
Signs could be seen throughout the crowd calling for an end to taxpayer funding of experiments using aborted babies, including ones performed at the University of Pittsburgh involving lab rats.
“Do you see the state capitol’s dome?” asked Father Bernard Ezaki, President of Catholic Mission and Identity of Bethlehem Catholic High School. “It is modeled off St. Peter’s in Rome.” If one walks up the stairs and goes through security, one sees a ceiling filled with Hebraic and Christian figures, symbols, and phrases calling legislators to “know” and “do better.”
While some legislators, including four from the Lehigh Valley, could be seen in the crowd, not all were. Attendees at the march were encouraged to talk to their legislators before heading home in their cars and buses.
As the speakers and march ended, Callie Seisler, a recent graduate of Nativity BVM High School, Pottsville and parishioner of St. Ambrose, Schuylkill Haven, said she was happy to be present and sacrificed to be there because it’s always a “beautiful day to save lives.”