Record number from diocese march in D.C.

The theme for this year’s March for Life was “Love Saves Lives,” and there was a lot of love and passion for life from the record number of pilgrims from the Diocese of Wichita, Bonnie Toombs said.
Sixteen buses carried 750 pilgrims, including 21 priests, from the diocese to the 45th annual March for Life that marks the 1973 Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.
Toombs, director the diocesan Respect Life and Social Justice Office, said the number of priests who endured the bus trips to and from the march and who provided spiritual direction was an inspiration to the laity.
“What a gift the clergy are!” she said. “Each pilgrimage is somewhat unique. This year the youth impressed me with their desire to learn how they can bring the message home to their families and parishes.”
Also this year, for the first time in march history, a sitting president addressed participants, Toombs said.
“He had a great line that highlighted the reason we go, and also why we work throughout the year in our own schools, towns, cities, and state, “ she said.
“Because of you,” President Trump said, “tens of thousands of Americans have been born and reached their full, God-given potential – because of you.”
Stephanie Nemechek, a member of St. Mark Parish in Colwich, said the teens of the diocese who participated in the march truly understand the importance of standing up for the right to life.
“It was very moving to be in a large conference room filled with teenagers on fire about their faith, enthusiastic during the pre-march rally, and reverent in prayer during Mass and adoration,” she said.
Many of the teenaged pilgrims told her that praying the rosary in front of Planned Parenthood in Washington, D.C., moved them.
“Watching young women and men entering the facility where abortions take place brings to reality the need for our prayers,” she said.
The 21 priests attending from the Wichita diocese brought incredible energy to the March for Life pilgrimage, Nemechek said. “It was a great opportunity for teens to interact with Bishop Kemme and the priests.”
Jason Creed, a member of St. Joseph Parish, McPherson, said it was inspiring to watch youth from throughout the diocese gather as one voice to stand up for the unborn.
Although the purpose of the march is to stand up for the unborn, he said, “it becomes more than that as all the participants take part in a spiritual journey through daily Mass and Liturgy of the Hours. These experiences foster the opportunity for both the youth and adults to grow in their faith as they participate in prayer – while sacrificing comfort and sleep during the trip.”
Suzette Sponsel, a member of St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Schulte, said she was impressed by the large number of pilgrims who sacrificed to make it to the March for Life.
Bishop Kemme, the number of priests who accompanied the pilgrims, and the hundreds of thousands of fellow pro-lifers at the march, also impressed her.
“It was an amazing experience,” the Bishop Carroll Catholic High School student said. “You could feel the energy in the crowd, especially when President Trump expressed his support to us.”