Diocesan Groups March in D.C.
By Margarita Mendoza, El Observador Editor
January 24, 2019
ST. CHARLES— Bishop David Malloy said a 6:45 p.m. send-off Mass on Jan. 16 at St. John Neumann Parish here for 93 Diocese of Rockford pilgrims who were going to Washington, D.C., for the Jan. 18 March for Life. Some parishioners also attended to support the travelers. 
In all, about 250 people traveled to the march from the Rockford Diocese, but not all traveled in the diocesan busses.
Sara Tunink, a sophomore at Newman Central Catholic High School, Sterling, was participating for the second time. “You hear the stories of people who had aborted their children and how sad they are and they wish they (hadn’t done) it. You just want to support them,” she said. 
“We came to support the March for Life. It’s my second year. It is important for our Catholic faith,” said Stephanie Juarez from the same school. “It is really hard to see how people abort. It is very sad for us to see this kind of thing.” 
Bishop Malloy, highlighting why it is relevant to take part in the event, said “It’s important that we have our young people (walking) in Washington to support the right of life, the right of the unborn to be born. As Jesus was born on Christmas Day, therefore we also participate in the life of Christ for our birth and that is something very good. It is also our desire to support the mothers that are going to give birth.”  
The March for Life has been happening for 45 years and attracts hundreds of thousands of supporters who join in no matter how difficult the weather might be. 
Father Timothy Barr, pastor at St. Joseph in Freeport, has been on the march about eight times as a “witness for life,  a witness for the children and mothers,” he said. “They have a right to live, and I just think about all these women and these babies. They need help; they need a voice heard to witness before God and before everybody.” 
For Father Barr the trip is a pilgrimage. “I offer it up to God to the end of  abortion,” he said, and “to let people know also of other things” such as the “sisters in Freeport that are offering a house for women to stay who are pregnant and in need of help. Everybody  (should) know there is a place in Freeport that holds up to 10 women with their babies up to two years after the birth.”  
Jennifer Collins, director of the diocesan Life and Family Evangelization Office, said, “Every January (our) travel to Washington, D.C., is an opportunity for us once again to publicly testify to the beauty of life. ... We have the opportunity and the responsibility to let our elected officials know that life is precious. ... Our laws should protect human life in all forms.”
After the send-off Mass the pilgrims ate pizza before they departed in buses to the U.S. capital.
Some parents were there for the farewell. “I think it’s a good thing,” said Kathleen McManus, who attended with her husband, James. They are parents of a junior at Marian Central Catholic High School in Woodstock. 
“I’m a little bit nervous about her going but I’m happy and excited for her,” Kathleen added.
The diocesen busses headed home on Saturday morning, a day earlier than planned, to  try to avoid the worst of last weekend’s heavy snow. 
Back in Illinois, Collins described what for her was the crux of the march. 
“It was an honor to be able to stand as a witness for life,” she said. “This experience had a profound impact on many of the people who went.”