Fr. Mark McGuckin emcees the Vancouver virtual March for Life rally. Photo courtesy The B.C. Catholic

Nationwide pro-life message lives in virtual rallies

By  Agnieszka Ruck, Canadian Catholic News
  • May 19, 2021

VANCOUVER -- For the second year in a row, pro-lifers were prevented from gathering by the thousands on Government Street and the lawn in front of the legislature buildings in Victoria, B.C., due to various pandemic and travel-related restrictions.

After cancelling the event last year, organizers planned a virtual pro-life rally for 2021, encouraging participants to display signs or march with life-affirming messages around their neighbourhoods, then tune into presentations from well-known pro-lifers online.

A similiar strategy played out in cities throughout Canada, with only limited physical-distanced gatherings at some government offices. While the national March day was May 13, some local organizations such as Toronto March for Life turned the event into week-long virtual video presentations preserved on YouTube.

“United in our love for one another and pre-born brothers and sisters, their mothers and families, there is so much we can do,” said Fr. Mark McGuckin who emceed Vancouver’s virtual rally from the John Paul II Pastoral Centre May 13.

“Let’s keep up our zeal, our passion, doing our Lord’s will … not looking at the looming threats … but standing firm in the love of God and proclaiming what we know to be true, good and beautiful.”

The virtual rally included musical performances from children in two Catholic schools and presentations about the pro-life movement from all angles, from those who speak out against abortion, to those who serve mothers in crisis, to those who have advocated for protection of the vulnerable from euthanasia.

Key speakers included pro-life apologist Stephanie Gray Connors, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition head Alex Schadenberg, Delta Hospice Society head Angelina Ireland, Sister of Life Mary Grace and long-time pro-life activist Mary Wagner.

“As Mother Teresa said, ‘love begins at home.’ Love is the foundation of the Gospel of life, which is why we are here gathered today, as much as we can be, to celebrate life, to renew our commitment to life and to pray,” said Wagner. “I believe that as much as we are called by the word ‘marching’ to march, to be active, to be out there — our foundation has to be one of prayer.”

Two politicians, MPs Cathay Wagantall and Tamara Jansen, also addressed participants. Wagantall recently introduced a private member’s bill aiming to criminalize abortion done solely because the parents don’t want a child of a certain sex.

“Most Canadians believe abortion access has gone too far and they want a law against this practice. Canadians have realized that we are not polarized the way some media, fake feminists and pro-abortion extremists want us to think that we are,” she said. “In Canada it’s time, now, to protect baby girls.”

Jansen said while she wished the crowd could gather in front of the legislature buildings, she hopes making the march a neighbourhood affair has a wider impact.

“Changes starts at home, one discussion at a time,” she said.

Archbishop J. Michael Miller also expressed his sadness at being unable to gather in Victoria as he offered Mass for the March for Life at Holy Rosary Cathedral before the rally.

“I can’t help but mention that I miss the exuberance of the crowd, the busloads of students, the full church, the thrill of hearing speakers in person,” he said. “Nonetheless, in this virtual way to which we have all become accustomed in the last year, we can still pray, and pray perhaps even more fervently, for the cause that we hold so dear.”

Bishop Gary Gordon of Victoria offered a virtual “welcome” with a short video message. “The March for Life and the pandemic are lining up to really point out to us the dignity of the human person and the fact that we are truly interconnected,” he said.

“We know that when we accompany those who are hurting, those who are fragile, those who are elderly, those who are vulnerable, it causes a choice for life. Accompaniment and love cause a choice for life. This is our work, this is the Gospel, this is what we are marching for.”

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