Thousands of pro-lifers attend ‘joy-filled’ Illinois March for Life — By: Catholic News Agency

Pro-lifers participate in the Illinois March for Life in Springfield, April 17, 2024. / Credit: Photo courtesy of March for Life

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Apr 22, 2024 / 15:00 pm (CNA).

Thousands of pro-lifers, including many groups of Catholic high school and college students, attended the Illinois March for Life in Springfield last week.

Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, told CNA that the march was “joy-filled” and “hopeful” and had a large youth turnout.

Catholic youth from “Crusaders for Life,” a pro-life group from St. John Cantius Parish in Chicago, was one such group that traveled several hours to participate in the event.

The group’s members could be seen at the front of the march holding brightly colored umbrellas and inflatables. Many of the young people cheered, danced, and played drums and cymbals, while others in the crowd chanted pro-life slogans and prayed.

Despite Illinois having some of the most pro-abortion laws in the country, allowing the killing of unborn children until birth, Mancini said the thousands of marchers from across the state brought “a message of hope and love for both mom and baby.” 

Pro-life youth lead the 2024 Illinois March for Life in front of the Illinois state Capitol in Springfield on April 17, 2024. The march was attended by 4,000 pro-lifers and had a heavy Catholic presence. Credit: Photo courtesy of March for Life

Co-sponsored by Illinois Right to Life and March for Life, the Illinois march is an annual event that begins in front of the state Capitol and proceeds through downtown Springfield.  

Mancini said the march was more important than ever because of ongoing efforts to incorporate abortion into the Illinois Human Rights Act

Already passed by the Illinois House of Representatives, the state Senate is currently considering a bill that would amend the Illinois Human Rights Act to declare that “a person has freedom from unlawful discrimination in making reproductive health decisions [including abortion] and such discrimination is unlawful.” 

“Illinoisians understand the importance of witnessing for life at the Capitol in Springfield now that the power to protect the unborn has been returned to the American people through their elected representatives post-Roe,” she said. “By marching at the Capitol in Springfield, legislators witness a multitude of Illinoisians stand for the inherent dignity of the unborn child and mother.”

The atmosphere at the march was “joy-filled and hopeful, but also reverent with the understanding that we were bringing a voice for the voiceless to the Capitol,” Mancini said.

The Catholic Times, a news publication of the Diocese of Springfield, reported that over 1,500 Catholics attended Mass in an auditorium at the University of Illinois-Springfield in preparation for the march. The Mass was celebrated by Springfield Bishop Thomas Paprocki, who was also a speaker at the march.

Illinois pro-life advocates march for the unborn on April 17, 2024. Credit: Photos courtesy of March for Life

Samuel Sweeley, a Catholic junior at St. Teresa High School in Decatur, Illinois, told The Catholic Times that he came to the march to bear witness that “God made us all with a purpose.” 

“No matter what environment you are born into and no matter who you are, you always have a chance to grow closer to Jesus, to live a beautiful life, to love God, and to enjoy that life,” Sweeley said.

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