One of the largest crowds in recent years took part in the annual North Carolina Rally and March for Life on Saturday, January 15. The event, sponsored by the North Carolina Right to Life organization, features speakers as well as letters of greetings from North Carolina federal and state office holders who support pro-life issues.
The Invocation was given by the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge. In his prayer, Bishop Burbidge said, “In a special way on this day, we entrust to your care, Almighty God, the lives of those whose lives are threatened in the womb of their mother, on the bed of infirmity and in the latter years of their lives. Let life spring forth in the hearts of all people and bring forth a love and respect for all life that will dominate our culture.”
“As we walk together,” he continued, “may we always remember that it is you who leads us. Let us never grow tired of speaking out on behalf of life from conception to natural death with courageous determination.”
Catholics from throughout the Diocese of Raleigh made up a large percentage of the crowd. Diane Gerding, a parishioner of Holy Infant Catholic Church in Durham, said she was present because, “I feel in my heart that we need to be the light, the candle, the prick of conscience to the people letting them know that all life is to be celebrated, especially the unborn children and the elderly. We need to teach people,” she added, “to be sensitive to the sacredness of all human life, especially with what is happening in our society. We, as Catholics, have the obligation to stand up and respectfully voice our concern and be that light to the world.”
Ever since their marriage some 40 years ago, Pete Marino said he and his wife have been involved in the pro-life cause. Today, Marino is the Pro-Life Chair of the Knights of Columbus Pope John Paul II Council at St. Matthew Church in Durham. "I’m at this rally and march,” Marino said, “because protecting the unborn is one of the most important issues our country is facing today. We kill 1.2 million babies each year. These are the most innocent people on earth. We need to do everything we can to protect their lives.”
Joe Farris, youth minister at St. Peter Catholic Church in Greenville and presenter at the “Love My Life” Youth Rally earlier in the day, said he was attending the Raleigh march with his wife and six children because of his family’s support of the pro-life teaching of the Church. “We attend the North Carolina Mass for Life and March for Life in Washington, D.C. every year,” Farris said. “We also want to support the rally in our state capital.”
Farris noted that St. Peter Church and school are each sending a busload of people to the Mass and march in Washington on January 24. Pope John Paul II High School in Greenville is also sending a bus to the national event.
Several thousand Catholics from the Diocese of Raleigh and the Diocese of Charlotte will travel to the nation’s capital on the 24th for the annual North Carolina Mass, which will be celebrated at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at 11:30 AM. Bishop Burbidge will be the Principal Celebrant. Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte will be Principal Concelebrant and homilist.
Following the Mass, North Carolina Catholics will join the Bishops in the Annual March for Life down Constitution Avenue to the U.S. Supreme Court.