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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Pilgrims from parishes, schools, and ministries throughout the Archdiocese of Boston joined pro-life advocates from across the nation at the March for Life on Jan. 19. Led by Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley, Boston pilgrims marched through Washington, D.C., singing, praying the rosary, and carrying pro-life placards as they braved the cold and snow.
"It's always been important to me because I believe God knows us by name before we were even conceived in our mother's womb," Kathy Bourgault, a parishioner at St. Adelaide Parish in West Peabody, told The Pilot. "Life is precious and every life is valuable."
Kaycie Hippolyte, a parishioner at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, embroidered the words "PRO-LIFE" on her sweater for the occasion.
"We are all born in the womb, and life is so sacred and important, and it's not something we can choose," she told The Pilot. "God's grace, that's something we can't choose."
She said it was "empowering" to march with thousands of like-minded faithful.
"It's kind of like the reinforcement to keep doing what you believe in," she said.
Catina Lennon, who has attended the March for Life over 15 times, was joined by her daughters Maria, 21, and Julia, 17.
"What keeps me coming back year after year is my conviction of witnessing to the dignity of every human life from conception until natural death," Lennon said. "And even though Roe v. Wade was overturned, and the issue is now in the states, there are still hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of babies every year that are still being brutally murdered by abortion."
Deacon Bill Proulx of St. Martin de Porres Parish in Dorchester came to the March for Life for the first time this year, in order to witness against what he called "the insanity of abortion."
Deacon Proulx had been to pro-life events before, but none as well-attended as the March for Life. He said he was impressed that the event still drew massive crowds, even after Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022.
"It's great, great energy," he said.
Prior to the march, pilgrims attended Life Fest at the D.C. Armory. The rally, sponsored by the Sisters of Life and the Knights of Columbus, featured music, prayer, confession, pro-life testimony, and a homily from Cardinal O'Malley, who concelebrated Mass.
In his homily, he called Roe v. Wade "Herodian" and compared abortion to slavery.
"Both institutions have devalued human life and dignity, and have caused great divisions in our country," he said. "Today, we have another opportunity to underscore the unique value of human life in all its stages and reaffirm the basic rights of life and the fundamental duty not to kill."
He said that legalized abortion "desensitizes" the U.S., making its citizens indifferent to violence and the suffering of all of society's most vulnerable.
"The basic question is, do we believe that human beings have value and should be protected?" He said. "Or are they disposable when they're defective, unwanted, inconvenient, of the wrong race, the wrong sex?"
Cardinal O'Malley reiterated his view that abortion cannot be defeated solely by changing laws, but by changing hearts and minds as well. He told pro-life supporters that they cannot appear judgmental or self-righteous when spreading their views, or else they will never shift public opinion.
"People will believe us only when they are convinced that we care about them," he said. "People will believe us only when they are convinced that we love them. Our task is not to judge others, but to try and bring healing."
He said that opponents of abortion must also oppose every form of injustice that causes abortion, including political polarization, racism, and poverty.
"Being pro-life means working tirelessly for economic justice in our country," he said. "A land where the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer will always be fertile ground for abortion."