Several thousand Catholics from North Carolina braved frigid 20-degree temperatures and snow Friday, January 25, 2013, to take part in the National Right to Life March in Washington, D.C. The annual event marked the 40th anniversary of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Roe v. Wade Decision, which allows abortion on demand.
Prior to joining more than 550,000 other demonstrators on the march, the faithful from the Diocese of Raleigh and the Diocese of Charlotte attended a North Carolina Mass for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Many of those in attendance made the trip by bus, some leaving their homes as early as 4:00 a.m.
The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge was Principal Celebrant and the Most Reverend Peter J. Jugis, Bishop of Charlotte, was the homilist. Concelebrating were Priests from both Dioceses. Also in attendance were deacons and seminarians from Raleigh and Charlotte.
In his homily, referring to the gospel reading narrating the Conversion of St. Paul, Bishop Jugis told the more than 4,000 in attendance that just as “God overtook Saul and conquered him by a love Saul had not experienced before, God is also fiercely pursuing the culture of death in order to conquer it with His love…He can change the most hardened of hearts, and Saul is proof of that.
“What we wish to do,” the Bishop concluded, “is pursue the culture of death and overcome it with God’s love and His grace.”
Following the Mass, as snow began to fall, Bishop Burbidge greeted parish groups from the Diocese and prepared to join the march. “We know that all of our efforts to protect the dignity and sanctity of human life rely on three things,” the Bishop said. “Prayer, witness and advocacy. And we see all three today. Filling the Basilica at Mass to pray, and now witnessing by our participation in the march, and later we will meet and confer with some of our elected officials to advocate for life. Very importantly, we do this with joy, because we have the truth.”
Alexis Currence and Katie Vaughan were two young members of St. Mark Parish in Wilmington making their fourth march for life. “Even though this is our fourth trip,” Ms. Currence said, “it never gets old. We look forward to it every year. The ride up was fantastic – we did a lot of praying.”
Ms. Vaughan said, “I can’t express how important it is for us to be here. It shows everyone that our generation is serious about protecting human life.”
Ruddy Love, a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus was marching with a large contingent from his parish, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Rocky Mount, NC. Asked if he had hope that Roe v. Wade would ever be overturned, he said, “I pray every day for that. Every day.”
Most of the seminarians for the Diocese of Raleigh came to participate in the Mass and march. Their feelings were summed up by Michael Burbeck, who will be ordained to the Transitional Diaconate in April. “It’s crucial that we come here to give witness to the world and to our young people in the cause of life,” he said. “And personally, I come here to be inspired by the example of so many and the sense of solidarity I feel here.”
View photo galleries: Mass | March
Bishop Michael F. Burbidge
Seminarian John Kane
Seminarian Myles Casanova
Katie Vaughn & Alexis Currance, St. Mark, Wilmington
Seminarian Christian Cook
Click photos below to view larger.
Above: Bishop Michael F. Burbidge at beginning of celebration of North Carolina Mass for Life at Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Above: Bishop Burbidge with Deacon Tom Duggan, Deacon Ryan Elder and Deacon Nick Cottrill at Mass for Life. The three men are scheduled to be ordained to the Priesthood June 1, 2013.
Above: Bishop Burbidge with students from the Diocese.
Above: Diocesan faithful part of the record crowd of more than 550,000 pro-life advocates who braved cold, snowy weather to take part in the annual March for Life.