In solidarity with the national March for Life and other national demonstrations, parishes throughout the Diocese of Gallup organized marches and prayer rallies in their local communities.
Nearly 300 people gathered in Farmington for the annual Four Corners March for Life, walking over three total miles from St. Mary Parish to World Harvest Christian Center and back again.
The walkers first gathered inside the church to listen to the keynote speaker, Fr. Josh Mayer, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Bloomfield and St. Rose of Lima Parish in Blanco.
Katelyn Cardenas, who has organized the event for several years, then outlined the rules of the event, asking walkers to carefully and courteously cross streets and keep to public sidewalks.
“Just be the face of the pro-life movement,” Cardenas instructed, giving a reminder to be prayerful and peaceful, especially if they encountered hecklers. “If you don’t feel called to speak to them and you just feel like they’re too angry, you can just keep walking and just pray for them because we know that they’re hurting very much. Abortion has affected so many people in our world.”
Halfway through the event, the walkers gathered at World Harvest Church to warm up and listen to prayers and testimonies from lead pastors, husband and wife Clint and Christie DeWees.
“It’s truly an honor and a privilege just to be a part of this, and just the unity the Lord is bringing to this community,” Clint DeWees told the walkers. “You know, as we were marching I kind of had three [thoughts]: and the first was pray for those that have been doing this, that they would be strengthened and encouraged. Pray for those on the fence, that haven’t made a decision about life and choice. And then pray for those that have never considered. Maybe they’re pro-life but never really considered taking a stand. And so that’s kind of what’s on my heart.”
Following the walk back to St. Mary Parish, attendees neatly stacked their signs and gathered in the parish hall for warm drinks and cookies.
Standing outside the church afterwards, parishioner Frances Roberts reflected on the growth of the march locally.
“The pro-life groups are really uniting in our county, which is something – we’ve been involved with the pro-life group for 22 years now. And in that 22 years, in the last 5 years I’ve seen more people involved together, not looking so much at what our religion is but what our beliefs are, and realizing that we have to stand together.”
St. Johns, AZ
In St. Johns, Arizona, over 100 people from eight local Catholic parishes and christian churches attended the annual White Mountain March for Life. The march began at a non-denominational church, New Covenant, and ended about a mile away at St. John the Baptist parish.
“St. Johns is a pretty small town, but it is the county seat of Apache County,” said Theresa Trujillo, who is in her third year of organizing the March. “It went really well – we had one heckler. In a small town we have a heckler,” she recalls with a laugh.
While the marchers in New Mexico spoke extensively about two bills – one which would de-criminalize abortion and another which would legalize euthanasia – the Arizona marchers focused on building up grassroots activism and awareness.
“You rarely see stories on the evening news or in the newspaper about, you know, people who chose life, but you’ll see women now – especially celebrities – coming forward and being proud about what they’ve done, in having an abortion or multiple abortions,” Trujillo said. “Nobody talks about the number of women who are maimed or die as a result of their abortion.”
Trujillo feels a personal stake in the pro-life movement as well, describing two female family members who felt forced into having an abortion because of a lack of knowledge and resources.
“We don’t do a good enough job of helping women make better choices for themselves and better choices for the baby they’re carrying. And so we need to take more responsibility for that.”
Trujillo described how marchers brought diapers, baby clothes, blankets, and other items to the event, enough to fill an SUV. The items were then donated to the local pregnancy center and to Apache County Health Educators for distribution to new and expectant mothers.
A cold wind and falling snow didn’t stop several dozen people from gathering in front of the McKinley County Courthouse in Gallup, NM. Along with the lay people in attendance, representatives from the Littler Sisters of the Poor, Sisters of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Joseph, Fr. Tom Walker from Sacred Heart Cathedral and Pastor Bill Emmerling of Gallup Christian Church were present.
The pro-life advocates held signs and prated together, with different demonstrators leading a prayer for various intentions, including mothers, legislators, unborn children, and the sick and elderly.
The prayers at the rally in Gallup echoed words from Cardenas, who had spoken to marchers – especially students and youth – in Farmington two days earlier.
“You’re fighting for your future, your children’s future spouses,” she said. “You’re fighting for your children’s future best friends and brothers and sisters and cousins.”