COLUMBIA—Speakers at pro-life rallies in Columbia on Jan. 11 said love, prayer and unwavering commitment are necessary to bring an end to abortion.
Driving rain and brisk winds didn’t deter crowds who marched from the University of South Carolina campus to the Statehouse for the annual Stand Up for Life march and rally. The Knights of Columbus led the procession, followed by hundreds of people who wanted to make a stand. Some people pushed babies in strollers, others were with loved ones and friends in wheelchairs. Student groups from the University of South Carolina and Clemson University participated. One group prayed the rosary together as they walked.
Organizers estimated the crowd at the Statehouse at between 900-1,000, smaller than the 2013 rally but still a good number in spite of the weather.
The keynote speaker was David Barton, president of WallBuilders, a national organization dedicated to presenting American history with an emphasis on moral, religious and constitutional heritage.
Barton said the inalienable right to life was at the center of the Founding Fathers’ vision for the United States, but that fact has increasingly been ignored since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion around the country in 1973.
“We have to pray to end abortion, but we also have to be willing to do more than pray,” Barton said. “In the past, statistics showed that two out of three pro-lifers didn’t vote. We need to vote and we need to continue to fight for pro-life legislation. If you don’t like fighting, you’ll never get to the promised land. Don’t be discouraged that we can’t turn it all around at once. God gives us what we seek little by little, so we need to stay in the battle.”
Members of South Carolina Citizens for Life announced several honors during the rally. Bob Lyncheski of Little River received the President’s Award. John Kost of Myrtle Beach was given the Volunteer for Life award to mark his retirement after nine years as leader of Grand Strand Citizens for Life. Holly Gatling of Columbia received the Legacy Award in honor of her 20th anniversary as the organization’s leader.
When events at the Statehouse ended, the day continued for about 700 Catholic youth who attended an afternoon of prayer, worship, music and uplifting speeches at the Township Auditorium.
Father Joseph V. Romanoski, administrator of Blessed Sacrament Church in Charleston, said their very presence was encouraging because they represent the future of the Church. He reminded them it is inconsistent for someone to say they are personally against abortion, but also believe each person should have the right to make their own choice about the issue.
“You can’t be pro-life and pro-choice at the same time, you can’t vote against life and for life at the same time,” he said. “Many believe we shouldn’t tell others what to do, but this line of thinking doesn’t work. It’s a cop out. Women have rights to choose many things, but do you honestly think anyone should have the right to choose to murder an unborn child? Giving someone the right to choose abortion is giving them the right to kill an unborn human being.”
Father Romanoski said it’s wrong when people say they don’t want to force their morality or values on others.
“Any type of law forces some sort of morality on others,” he said. “Acts that hurt or kill others are prohibited by law, so why should abortion continue to be legal when it is the murder of an unborn child? Remember that sin is not only doing that which is wrong, but it’s also the omission of good. The sin is ours if we do not do what we can to prevent abortion.”
Any effective pro-life work needs to begin with prayer and an examination of conscience, he said.
“We need to take an honest look at ourselves and ask what we really believe, how willing are we to do what it takes to change our society and our country,” Father Romanoski said. “We need to step out of our personal comfort zones to save lives.”
Musician and youth minister Steve Angrisano ramped up the energy by having young people and adults take part in songs and activities, including a game of “Simon Says” that included commands that came at the speed of an auctioneer’s call.
Angrisano, who is based in Colorado, told several stories about how important it is to use love to spread the message of the Gospel.
“Screaming and yelling at people simply teaches them that our God is a screaming, yelling, angry God,” Angrisano said. “Our responsibility as disciples of Jesus is to be a reflection of God’s love and to help others encounter Christ. We need to make sure there is less of us and more of Him in what we are trying to do. You can end a lot of abortions simply by reaching out to talk to people, maybe to that girl in school who nobody else will talk to. Love is what changes hearts. Love is what saves lives. Love is what makes a difference.”
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone attended the event at the Statehouse, where he offered the opening prayer. He also celebrated Mass at the youth rally. In his homily, he asked the faithful to reflect on the celebration of Christ’s baptism and to live out their own baptismal promises by showing love, compassion and reverence for all human life.
“This rally really showed me that we all can do more in our walk with the Lord and our commitment to life,” said Simon Falk, 17, a member of Transfiguration Church in Blythewood.
“I learned that every child is important, and it’s our responsibility to do what we can to end abortion,” said Eva Owusu, 17, also of Blythewood.
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