March for Life aims for 20,000 with schools' help

By 
  • February 26, 2010
{mosimage}OTTAWA - Campaign Life Coalition is hoping this year’s National March for Life will draw 20,000 people to Parliament Hill on May 13 with help from Ottawa area Catholic schools.

Last year’s march drew more than 12,000 people, the largest crowd in the event’s 12 years. About half of the marchers were young people. But many of these were bused in from other cities around Ontario.

On Feb. 22, Campaign Life held a planning session here with representatives from the Ottawa Catholic District School Board, Catholic teachers, student pro-life activists, the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Women’s League and the Ottawa archdiocese to examine ways to increase local participation.

Only about 12 of the 600 youth who attended the pro-life Youth Conference that followed last year’s march were from Ottawa, reported CLC’s Wanda Hartlin.

The March for Life’s “political” nature and concerns about offending or hurting the feelings of students who may have had abortions were cited as obstacles. One obstacle concerned the negative view the pro-life movement has even within Catholic circles.

“It’s not easy running a pro-life team in a Catholic high school,” said Matt Dineen, a teacher who guides the Respect for Life team at St. Joseph’s High School in Barrhaven.  “Abortion is a sensitive issue.”

Dineen said his group has taken a “not naming or shaming” approach that embraces the whole culture of life, rather than a single-minded focus on abortion. His group has also looked at euthanasia, the treatment of the handicapped and made visits to a local home for the elderly.

“For us the big struggle is to prove we are loving and we are promoting a Gospel of Life,” he said.

Olenka Galadza, who leads a Culture of Life group at Immaculata High School, said their group has also made an effort to move away from being “the girls who are against abortion.”  While many students or their friends have had abortions, “we need to be reaching out to heal,” she said.

Representing the Ottawa archdiocese, episcopal vicar Fr. Joe Muldoon said he hoped for increased participation not only in the March for Life, but also in the archdiocese’s Week for Life that will begin with Pro-Life Sunday, May 9.

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