Four powerful takes from this year’s March for Life

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March for Life
Pro-life demonstrators take part in the 51st annual March for Life rally amid a snowstorm in Washington Jan. 19, 2024. (OSV News photo/Evelyn Hockstein, Reuters)

Each year I attend the March for Life has its own graces. Despite the cold and snow, this year was no exception. Here are four things I took with me that I’ll continue thinking about.

Chaldean Catholics for Life

Selena Cholak and Cesar Hannah, caught my eye on the National Mall with a message that transcended language barriers. Representing a Chaldean Catholic church from Detroit, Michigan, they brought a sign that spoke volumes: “I deserve a life,” written in Aramaic, Arabic and English.

Selena told me, “We want to give babies a chance at life. We want to pray for the unborn, and we want to minister to everyone who may be struggling with a choice in how they want to bring a life into this world.” Cesar stressed the importance of understanding that every baby, regardless of circumstances, deserves a chance at life.

Their message was clear: every human life is precious, and they hoped to reach out to women in need, offering help and encouragement.

Meeting Maureen Bubel

Maureen Bubel was present at the first March for Life after Roe in 1974 and has almost never missed the event since. “It was the first time there was any kind of group down here for that that I knew of, and I came down,” Bubel recalls. Her decision to participate in the march was driven by the shocking reality of abortion becoming legal. “They were making killing babies legal. And who would want that?” she questions.

Bubel’s dedication to the cause is not just a personal crusade but a legacy she hopes to pass on to her family. This year, Bubel attended the March for Life with her grandchildren, desiring them to remember the importance of this event and the values it represents. “There’s no other group in this country that is like this. We just keep coming back and coming back and coming back,” she says.

For Bubel, the March for Life is more than a protest; it’s a “great family and fun day.” Her presence at the march shows her commitment to the pro-life cause and her hope that future generations will carry on its vital message.

Jim Harbaugh at the rally

Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh appeared at the march after leading the Wolverines to victory in this year’s national championship. “Thank you all for being here. It’s a great example that you’re setting. It’s a testimony for the sanctity of life,” he said.

A Catholic, who’s not shy about his religious or pro-life views, Harbaugh has encouraged players to come to him if they find themselves with an unplanned pregnancy. “I encourage them — if they have a pregnancy that wasn’t planned, to go through with it, go through with it.” In a light-hearted moment, Harbaugh joked about the cold and snow, saying, this is “great football weather.”

Singing the ‘Salve Regina’

It’s my custom to march with my Dominican brothers. It’s a reunion of sorts, with friars bringing in people from near and far from their various ministries. (I was particularly grateful to see former students of mine from Providence College!) We stopped for pictures, texted friends, sang and prayed.

But the best moment comes at the end of the march when, having reached the top of Capitol Hill, we sing the “Salve Regina.” We sing for those children who don’t get the chance to sing, for those sorrowful women who can sing through their tears. We sing to Mary asking her intercession and, most of all, for conversion of heart.

I’ll march again next year. There will be different graces, to be sure, and, please God, a few more victories for the pro-life movement!

Father Patrick Briscoe

Father Patrick Briscoe, OP, is a Dominican friar and the editor of Our Sunday Visitor. Along with his Dominican brothers, he is host of the podcast Godsplaining and a co-author of "Saint Dominic’s Way of Life: A Path to Knowing and Loving God." He is also the author of the OSV seasonal devotional, "My Daily Visitor."