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Idaho seminarians brave cold, marching for Life in Washington, D.C.


COURTESY PHOTO | LIBBY MAHOWALD

Diocese of Boise seminarians at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20. Ian Willnerd (left) and Guillermo Gutiérrez (center). Matthew Harris (right) is a seminarian of the Diocese of Sioux Falls.


By Guillermo Gutiérrez

and Deacon Scott Pearhill


WASHINGTON, D.C. ― Despite freezing temperatures and falling snow, tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered at the National Mall on Jan 19 for the 51st annual March for Life, the second since the overturning of Roe V. Wade in 2022. Diocese of Boise seminarians Ian Willnerd and Guillermo Gutiérrez, together with the rest of their Theology I class from St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., were among the many participants who marched to show their support for the dignity of every human life from the moment of conception to natural death.


The seminarians also attended the Jan. 18 vigil Mass and pro-life Holy Hour at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. According to a Jan. 18 Catholic News Agency (CNA) story by Joe Bukuras, Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge “called on those gathered in the packed Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to ‘bring light to the darkest corners.’”


The CNA story noted that Bishop Burbidge, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Committee, said during his homily,


While it is necessary to be “strategic” in states “where there are victories to be won, we must not lose hope” in states where abortion rights have been enshrined into law. Like Jesus, it is not enough to reserve our message for those who will readily receive it and to pursue victories only in those places where we are likely to win. We must persist in those places where our message is rejected.


Before the Mass, Cardinal Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the U.S., read a message from Pope Francis, “extending warm greetings and the assurance of his prayers to the many thousands of people from the United States gathered for the annual March for Life,” CNA reported. The message of Pope Francis continued,


In expressing heartfelt gratitude for this eloquent witness to the inviolable right to life of every person, he trusts that almighty God will strengthen the commitment of all, especially the young, to build a culture in which each member of the human family, in particular the most innocent and vulnerable, is welcomed as a brother or sister. In this regard, His Holiness encourages everyone to persevere in efforts to safeguard our heavenly father’s gift of life through adequate legal measures enacted at the local, national and international levels.


The March for Life on Jan. 19 began with a rally at which Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life program, House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La, and Jim Harbaugh, coach of the Michigan Wolverines football team, offered pro-life testimonies, encouragement and inspiration.


Idaho seminarian Guillermo Gutiérrez said, “Then the Idaho seminarians marched toward the Supreme Court, joining with Catholics from many different states, but also with brothers and sisters from other Christian denominations. For us seminarians, it was a powerful experience.” Gutiérrez shared that the Idaho seminarians began the day by visiting the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, noting that atrocities against human life and dignity have been a constant problem in our world. However, Gutiérrez was encouraged, “Seeing that many people, especially young people, are still willing to defend the most basic and important human right: life.”


Gutiérrez continued, “The March for Life is a ray of hope for thousands, surrounded by many monuments and memorials dedicated to heroic men and women who built this great nation, bravely defending the most vulnerable.” He explained that he was proud to be among those who carry on this tradition, especially by defending the rights of the most vulnerable among us, the unborn.


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