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Bishop Gruss, students, a first-time mom and religious sisters will travel with local faithful to March for Life

On Thursday, Jan. 18, local faithful will travel by bus to Washington, D.C. for the world’s largest pro-life event, the March for Life.   

The theme this year ‘With every woman, for every child’ focuses on the importance of caring for both mother and child during pregnancy and in the years after.  

The theme will have a special significance for one of the pilgrims, Abby Jones. She and her husband are joyously expecting their first child in April.    

“I am so elated,” said Jones, who serves as youth minister at Sacred Heart Parish in Mount Pleasant. “This fulfils a dream to be pregnant and going to the March. I’m kind of like a walking billboard. It’s given me a different perspective. I feel like I can have empathy for other pregnant women and this makes me want to support women even more.”  

Jones will be joined by 20 students from Sacred Heart Academy in Mount Pleasant.   

“One of my students was so excited that many of her classmates were going on the pilgrimage with her,” said Jones.  “I hope that they are encouraged by each other and the many people from across the country who will be participating.”  

Dedicated pilgrims  

In addition to the pilgrims from Mount Pleasant and faithful from many area parishes, Bishop Robert Gruss and several Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma will also make the pilgrimage.  They will drive more than 600 miles to Washington, D.C. on Thursday, Jan. 18, participate in the March on Friday and drive home on Saturday.   

"It is so important for all of us to embrace our call to hold life sacred from the moment of conception until the natural end. This March is important because it brings to the forefront the call to protect human life in the womb," said Bishop Gruss. "But, we also must be attentive to the beauty and dignity of women who find themselves unexpectedly with a child. We believe that if women and their children who need help are taken care of, they will less likely feel they need to have an abortion. We will march with ‘with every woman, for every child.’” 

“The goal to overturn Roe — that’s always been a hope,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life. “But a much deeper and harder and loftier goal has been to make abortion unthinkable.”  

Several generations from one family 

Barb Birchmeier, from St. Michael Parish in Maple Grove, shares the same goal and will participate in the pilgrimage along with her daughter Samantha and her granddaughter ClairaBelle, who is currently a freshman in high school.   

“Years ago, I went with my mom to the March for Life in Washington and I was amazed at the positivity,” said Birchmeier. “[As part of our pilgrimage] we went to Mass, everyone was happy, praying and singing. It was a joyous event.”  

Birchmeier also participated in the National Catholic Youth Conference in November of 2023. It was then that her granddaughter ClairaBelle expressed an interest in going to the March for Life.   

Barb Birchmeier and her granddaughter ClairaBelle at the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis in November 2023

“My dream is to go on the March with all of my grandchildren,” said Birchmeier. “Better yet, my dream is that the March will no longer be necessary because life is respected and there are no more abortions.“    

The Catholic Diocese of Saginaw and many of its parishes support mothers experiencing unplanned pregnancies, including support after the birth of their children, through a program called “Walking with Moms in Need” which provides direct material support or helps connect mothers to local organizations that share many forms of assistance, from medical care to diapers and clothing. The Diocese also provides aid through the Mother Teresa Fund which gives financial support to individuals or couples experiencing limited financial resources while awaiting the birth of their child and/or during the initial period following the child’s birth.  

During the drive to the March for Life, pilgrims will receive formation and education by listening to five podcasts (audio recordings) about the pro-life movement, abortion and more. All are welcome to listen to this series of recordings entitled "Hiding Place."