When Fr. Jim Lobacz was a seminarian at Saint Francis de Sales Seminary during the early 1970s, he protested against the Vietnam War. On Jan. 25 he’ll protest against abortion by attending his first March for Life in Washington D.C. MARCHFORLIFEYoung people take part in the first March for Life in 1974 in Washington. Forty years after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortions, the pro-life movement hasn’t stepped back in its resolve to see the decision reversed. (CNS files)

“The Roe v. Wade decision was one of the worst decisions the Supreme Court ever made,” Fr. Lobacz, vicar for senior clergy for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, said. “We need to make sure that our faith is very obviously present in the public eye.”

The March for Life event is taking place to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

Fr. Lobacz called participating in this event part of faithful citizenship.

“When something is going on that is contrary to what I believe and hold dear, I have every right to express my dissent,” Fr. Lobacz said. 

Peggy Hamill went to her first March for Life 18 years ago and hasn’t missed one since.

“It’s shameful that 40 years after Roe v. Wade we still haven’t gotten it right,” Hamill said. “This is the civil rights cause of our time and it is the last frontier of the civil rights movement.”

Hamill, mother of 11 and state director for Pro-Life Wisconsin, has assisted parishes, youth groups and schools in putting together trips to Washington D.C. to protest abortion.

According to Hamill, at least 2,000 participants from Wisconsin will attend the march this year.

In the Archdiocese of Milwaukee several high schools and parishes have reserved tickets to rallies and Masses. Among the high schools are Divine Savior Holy Angels, Milwaukee; Marquette, Milwaukee; Catholic Memorial, Waukesha; and Catholic Central, Burlington.

Herald reporter to attend March for Life

Follow Catholic Herald reporter Ricardo Torres as he goes by bus with Pro-Life Wisconsin and is one of more than 2,000 Wisconsin residents attending the March for Life in Washington, D.C.

He’ll be providing daily in-depth blogs about the experience on chnonline.org.
Follow the Catholic Herald on Twitter, @MilCathHerald, and on Facebook, Milwaukee Catholic Herald, for more live updates.

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Jenni Oliva, associate director for the Nazareth Project for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, said it’s important for Catholics to speak up.

“The overarching reason for this event, the Catholic church just values life so much that we want to represent our beliefs and our thoughts,” Oliva said. “Not only to the government located mostly in Washington D.C. but really to the country and the world of our beliefs that the decision the Supreme Court made 40 years ago is not in line with what we believe.”

Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki will attend and celebrate a Mass. It will be his first time attending the march as archbishop of Milwaukee.

In recent years, Hamill said more young people are attending the rallies, giving hope for the pro-life movement.

“The vast majority of the people marching and participating in the activities for the March for Life are under the age of 25,” Hamill said.

Another trend at the annual event is the number of speakers who’ve been involved directly with this issue.

“Women and men who have participated in abortion have begun, more and more, to come out very vocally and publicly speaking out against abortion,” she said. “The participants really speak up and give their heartfelt testimony, their regret … their conversion to the pro-life cause.”

The march has drawn the attention of the opposition, and in recent years activists from both sides have gone head to head.

Hamill said those who are pro-abortion focus on the rally to try to “shout down the messages of those that have been directly hurt by the pro-abortion cause.”

In the days leading up to the march, individuals will travel to a Planned Parenthood abortion provider to pray.

“(It will be) a constant prayer witness outside the local Planned Parenthood near the White House,” Hamill said.

When Hamill went to that first march she took her daughter Colleen, then an eighth grader, who’s now a mother and active in the pro-life movement.

That year, she and her daughter had to raise the money to go on the trip. One of the things they did was to ask for money instead of presents for Christmas.

“I went because I just had this deep sense of need to speak out in our nation’s capital,” she said. “It was an adventure. It was a sacrifice, but it was life changing.”

Looking back at that first trip, Hamill said it was the “push forward” she needed to get involved in the movement.

“You advocate for the babies in Washington D.C.,” she said. “You attend training sessions. You attend vigils. You engage in activism … you come home fired up and you end up being a disciple in your own community.”