16 buses, 730 pilgrims travel to D.C. for annual march

Five of the 730 attending the March for Life in Washington, D.C., are, from left, Morgan May, Eden Stuever, and Laura Reichenberger from St. Joseph Parish in Andale; Krista Wegerer from St. Mark Parish; and Lily Reichenberger, a member of Sacred Heart Parish in Colwich. (Courtesy photo)

Although the number of those attending the Topeka pro-life event from the Diocese of Wichita Wednesday, Jan. 22, was down because of bad weather, Sheri Sherfield, secretary for the Respect Life and Social Justice Office, said it was a powerful day highlighted by a beautiful Mass in the Topeka Performing Arts Center.

“The speaker, D.J. Hueneman, was wonderful,” she said. “He was very much geared towards the young people and spoke about chastity.”
Hueneman is a youth speaker who shares important life topics with humor and love while incorporating his experiences as a Catholic husband, father, firefighter, and pregnancy center counselor. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Toombs says march ‘a great opportunity’

Bonnie Toombs, director of the office, said the march in Washington, D.C., Friday, Jan. 24, was a great opportunity for youth and adults to be a visible presence and to say “enough is enough” regarding 47 years of killing the unborn because of the Roe v. Wade decision.

“One of my favorite things about the march is the fact that we are such a diverse group,” she said, made up of people of a variety of racial backgrounds and ages. “We take young people who are in high school, but this year we had several in the group who are in their 70s. We come from different cultures…but when we get there there’s a sense of this is the right thing to do.”

Toombs said the D.C. march may have been the largest in history and, despite the hundreds of thousands attending, there is a sense of community.

“It’s more than my diocese fighting this. It’s more than just my youth fighting this,” she said. “They really understand and are willing to make the sacrifices to be there – especially kids attending public schools. They have to miss school and their schools don’t always understand why. But in the end, we all come away thinking maybe we don’t have to do it next year.”

Voting stressed among youth

The goal every year is to reach out to people and covert their hearts, Toombs said, adding that she appreciated the comments made by several speakers at the national rally about the importance of the vote.

“So hopefully our young people who will be new voters will understand that and know they need to register to vote,” she said. “They need to make their voice heard again at the ballot.”

Toombs said it was a treat that President Trump attended the rally – the first president to do so in person. She added that she appreciated all he has done to support pro-life legislation and policies.

“To be 40 feet away like we were from the president of the United States was a great feeling,” she said. “And to know the president holds in his heart the same respect for human dignity and human life means even more.”

Sixteen buses from the Diocese of Wichita traveled to the Washington, D.C., march – a total of 730 pilgrims. Two of the buses left from Pittsburg.

Twenty priests of the diocese attended along with Bishop Carl A. Kemme.