March for Life 2022

By Clare DiFranco and Lizzie Putlock

Juniors Clare DiFranco and Lizzie Putlock were among the three busloads of students, faculty, and staff from Father Gabriel Richard High School attending the 2022 March for Life in January. They both provide unique insights into the experience and help to illustrate the importance of the event.

Clare DiFranco ‘23 set the stage for the March, explaining that “after 49 years of fighting, the pro-life movement has never been closer to overturning the court ruling on Roe v. Wade. The Dobbs v. Jackson case being fought in the Supreme Court challenges the current legal status of abortion at the federal level. If Dobbs wins this case, Roe will be overturned and the legality of abortion will become a decision made by individual states, rather than by the federal government. The vast crowd of energetic and hopeful marchers at the 2022 March for Life greatly reflected this huge potential victory.”

Focusing on the unique experience of FGR’s Marchers, Lizzie Putlock ‘23 reflects that “after the few stops throughout the night and the awkward and slightly uncomfortable sleeping arrangements provided by the coach bus seats, 125 Father Gabriel Richard High School students had finally made it to our nation’s Capital… and just in time for Mass! Even though it was about 7:00 am and most had only gotten an average of four hours of sleep, the students did not forget why they were there: ‘For the babies.’

After Mass, which was celebrated by FGR alumnus Fr. Andrew Wakefield ’00, everyone was given the remainder of the morning to explore the Capital. Some groups visited the museums around the National Mall, others checked out the monuments, and some found themselves grabbing a quick breakfast before the day started.

Around noon, the March for Life rally began, and FGR students got to listen to a fantastic selection of keynote speakers. The energy among all the people present; old and young, men and women, politicians and priests, was unlike anything this writer had experienced before, so vibrant and hopeful. Dominik Fleury, ’23 reflected on the rally later, saying, ‘Seeing the rally and the hope that is alive in this movement is very inspiring. There’s hope, and it’s very real.’”

Clare notes, “This was the third March for Life I have attended, and it was like no other. Despite the bitter temperatures and sleepless bus rides, the overall experience was joyful and encouraging. The crowd at this particular March was enthusiastic and lively. The wonderful lineup of speakers who presented their testimonies at the rally all shared in the crowd’s exhilaration.”

After the rally, Lizzie reports that “the students began the march to the Supreme Court building. Despite the cold weather and tired legs from being on their feet the whole day, there was nothing but smiles and joy from the students. Seeing so many young people out there from around the country for the same purpose created an inexplicable excitement and optimism among everyone who was there.

Clare recounts that “The March for Life stands in stark contrast to the bad news in the world, and it is a reminder of the good news which often goes unreported. Regardless of the status of Dobbs v. Jackson, I have great hope for the prolife movement. If the March proved anything at all, it was that the sanctity of human life is a cause which has impacted each enthusiastic individual in the vast crowd of marchers in D.C. And this in itself is a great victory.”

The ride back to Ann Arbor became quiet quickly. Exhausted from the long day, most students and chaperones found themselves asleep for much of the trip back. The 36-hour, red-eye trip was coming to an end. As they were nearing FGR, Sr. Elizabeth Ann came over the speakers and asked for the last time, “May I have your attention, gentlemen and ladies?” And for the last time on that trip, the tired students answered, “For the babies”. My hope is that those students (we) will always remember that saying and will never stop fighting “for the babies!”

The March for Life is only one of numerous events that Father Gabriel Richard’s Pro-Life Club leads for students. Currently, the club is encouraging students to participate in the National Right to Life Pro-Life Oratory Competition. The Washtenaw County Chapter’s edition of the event will take place at FGR on Saturday, April 2. And recently, on the Feast of the Annunciation, the Club hosted their “every child deserves a birthday” event. To both celebrate God becoming man and to recognize the dignity of all unborn children, they handed out free cupcakes to all students during lunch. The conviction to act, to uphold and witness for the unborn is an inspiring example of how FGR students live out their intentional discipleship.

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