By Sara Kraft
Special to The Catholic Key
ST. JOSEPH, Mo.— “My greatness,” Bishop LeBlond junior Cassandra Jimenez said, “is to stand up for life to help others.” Cassandra explained she learned through her participation in the 2013 March for Life in Washington, D.C. that each aborted baby was made for greatness, and we will never know the greatness God destined them for. Cassandra and fellow Bishop LeBlond student Audrey Tighe spoke about their participation in the 2013 March for Life in Washington, D.C. during St. Joseph’s Life Day rally.
“By the end of the year, over 1200 women in the Saint Joseph area will drive about an hour to get an abortion,” Saint Joseph Pregnancy Resource Clinic Director Brandy Meeks told the hundreds of participants in the 2014 Life Day celebration. “And one in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime.”
People of all ages chose to give a voice to the voiceless and hopefully lessen that number by participating in the Saint Joseph area Life Day festivities which included a walk, rally, and life chain. For nearly 15 years, the Life Chain has been organized by Missouri Right to Life.
Last year was the first year for the walk and rally, mostly attended by Catholic participants. The event exceeded expectations last year, so organizer Dan Deatherage and committee invited local non-Catholic churches and organizations to help plan, promote, and execute the event for 2014 in hopes of changing a few more hearts. Organizers included Knights of Columbus Council #15126, the Pregnancy Resource Clinic, the Catholic Newman Center of Missouri Western State University, the Baptist Student Union of Missouri Western State University, and Missouri Right to Life.
This year, there were three different starting points for the walk based on the fitness level of participants. Those that were able gave witness to life by completing the longest trek, a 3.7 mile walk which began at Fredrick Boulevard Baptist Church, traveled down one of St. Joseph’s busiest streets, and ended at Bishop LeBlond High School. Participants also had the shorter options of a 2.2 mile or 1 mile walk. In addition, those unable to walk were invited to form a life chain in front of Bishop LeBlond High School.
Jodi Carpenter, wearing her one year old son in a baby wrap, explained she walked “For all of those babies aborted and will be aborted, and for those parents that made that decision. I walked to let our children know how precious life is.”
Missouri Western State University student Alex Luke walked “To raise awareness of just how many abortions there have been. It is so tragic and unfair.”
The route was designed to maximize visibility as participants made the trek down Fredrick Boulevard, past Heartland Regional Medical Center, onto the campus of Missouri Western State University, before passing East Hills Mall and ending with two blocks of the walk down the Belt Highway, another of St. Joseph’s most prominent streets. One clerk even walked outside of her store to determine why there were so many pedestrians on the Belt Highway.
“We walked in part to remember the unborn and in reparation of their death,” explained Joshua Bachman who walked with wife Lindsay, mother Kelly, and dog Molly, “and to remind those who drive by that the unborn deserve the same dignities everyone else does.”
Following the walk, a rally was held at Bishop LeBlond High School Stadium. Pastor Darrell Jones of Grace Evangelical Church led the rally in prayer and invited participants to release balloons which represented babies killed by abortion.
With young children in tow, Deborah Seiter wasn’t able to participate in the walk, but attended the rally to “Support and mourn children and declare the sacredness of life.”
So far this year, the Pregnancy Resource Clinic has saved over 200 babies by supporting and changing the hearts of women who wanted to have an abortion when they first stepped inside the doors. Eighty-three percent of women who receive an ultrasound at the Pregnancy Resource Clinic will go on to either parent or give their baby up for adoption.
Rally speaker Glenn Darrow II spoke about his experiences on how abortion affects men, not just women. Glenn and his wife had an abortion over 50 years ago. Males require as much emotional post abortion support as women do, he explained. We need to explain to both men and women both the short term and long term effects of abortion.
Pastor Jason Moore of First Baptist Church in St. Joseph shared how he and his wife learned early in their marriage they likely wouldn’t be able to have children due to medical reasons. When they later conceived their “miracle child,” they learned their child most likely had Down syndrome. Despite being encouraged to explore their options, he and his wife knew this was the child God had given them, and there was no other option for them. Their daughter was born six weeks early, and was absolutely healthy.
Pastor Moore explained this experience moved him from being prolife in theory to sharing the prolife message, no matter the cost. He shared five ways to spread the prolife movement. First, we must study the issues so we know them backwards and forwards. He reminded, “Neither science nor morality are on the side of the culture of death.”
Second, we must speak up. Third, be nice and respectful. Pastor Moore explained, “You can be forceful, but don’t be a jerk.” Jerks don’t win hearts.
Fourth, get involved. This is God’s issue, not a political issue. And finally, vote! “I am not willing to have more money in my pocket or pay lower taxes if it means one person must die.”