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 | By Lori Becker

Diocesan pilgrims attend a successful first annual Michigan March for Life

One year after the passage of Proposal 3— which amended the Michigan constitution and enshrined abortion rights in the state constitution— and only one day after Ohio voters passed a similar ballot measure, more than 5,000 pro-life activists gathered on the lawn of the State Capitol in Lansing to show their support and commitment to protecting the dignity and sanctity of life.

The Nov. 8 march and rally, planned and hosted by the National March for Life and Right to Life of Michigan, is planned to become an annual event. Parishes, pro-life groups and Catholic school students from the Diocese traveled to Lansing to participate in the first Michigan March for Life.

The day began with approximately 900 worshipers attending a Mass for Life at St. Mary’s Cathedral, celebrated by Archbishop Allen Vigneron from the Archdiocese of Detroit. The Michigan Knights of Columbus Color Guard were also in attendance.

“There are those who would like to ‘fight like hell,’” said Bishop Earl Boyea of the Diocese of Lansing in his homily. “In fact, there is a real hellishness whenever any innocent life is taken. There is a real hellishness when our state and our community becomes a destination for such evil purposes. There is a real hellishness when joy and celebration mark the victory of darkness over light. There is a real hellishness when the vast majority of our population sees no problem in all of this. What then are we to do? My sisters and brothers, we must fight like heaven!”

“It was very uplifting to start the day off with the Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral in Lansing with Bishop Boyea and [Archbishop] Vigneron,” said David Suave, president of the Saginaw County Right to Life Affiliate. “It was great to see the church so full with pro-life Catholics from all over the state.”

After Mass, worshipers joined with others as the crowds swelled at the State Capitol for the pre-march rally to hear from a range of local and national pro-life figures, including Barbara Listing, Right to Life of Michigan president and Jeannie Mancini, National March for Life president. Genecia Davis, founder of Black Girls for Life, shared her personal story of abortion and her subsequent path to peace in the rally’s keynote address.

The list of speakers at the rally also included Detroit pro-life advocate Mildred “Missy” Parker-Miller, Senator Thomas Albert, Representative Jaime Greene, Senator John Damoose, Representative Ann Bollin and Dr. Michelle Monticello, an OB-GYN from Midland and member of St. Brigid of Kildare Parish.

Dr. Monticello serves as medical director at Life Choices of Central Michigan in Mount Pleasant, where she oversees several programs including ultrasounds for pregnant women and a free health clinic. Dr. Monticello spoke at the rally about the importance of helping pregnant and parenting women in need.

“As I waited to take the podium to speak, my view was of a small portion of the crowd. When I stepped up I thought, ‘Holy cow! Look at all of the people here, especially the students, so full of energy and joy!’” she recalled.

She also shared her gratitude for the diversity of speakers sharing their stories.

“I felt energized by being with so many people of the same mindset,” she said. “It’s a good feeling knowing that I’m not fighting alone.”

The rally was then followed at noon by a peaceful, prayerful and youth-filled march to the Michigan Hall of Justice, which included representation from many parishes and schools from across the state of Michigan.

“I think it’s nice that so many people in Michigan are pro-life,” said Lili Costilla, a senior at All Saints Catholic Middle and High School in Bay City. “[The unborn] can’t speak for themselves, so it’s important to stand up for them. Fighting for life is right.”

The event was also cause for hope.

“Hey, we had a hard night last night around the country,” said Jeanne Mancini, referencing Ohio’s abortion ballot measure. “But you can see that the pro-life Michigan people are here in force, most of them young, and with so much enthusiasm and joy – and that's the only way we'll win hearts and minds.”

Esther and Bill Henige from St. Michael’s Parish in Maple Grove are keenly aware of the need to win hearts and minds.

“We were both grateful to participate and be among the thousands who share in wanting goodness and God's will for both mothers and their babies,” the couple shared. “The grayness of the day certainly mirrored our sadness for the ‘hearts of stone’ in the people who continue to push this culture of death. But, we are people of hope, and we trust in our Lord and his love.”

The national March for Life in Washington, D.C., has become an annual pilgrimage for tens of thousands of pro-lifers every January. But since the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court last year, and the subsequent passage of Michigan's widely permissive Proposal 3 in November's election, the issue of abortion has taken on a new urgency at the state level.

“The best part was being together with an estimated 5,000 people who were prayerful and joyful as we walked a short course by the State Capitol and administration buildings downtown,” David said. “The intermittent rain didn’t dampen our spirits. It was truly a proud day to be a pro-life Catholic from Michigan.”


Catholic Social Teaching


Life and Dignity of the Human Person

Call to Family, Community, and Participation

Rights and Responsibilities

Option for the Poor and Vulnerable

Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers


Care for God's Creation


Life and Dignity of the Human Person


By Maria Coss, Mission Coordinator

Editor’s note:  Catholic Social Teaching offers guidance on “building a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society.” (USCCB) Over the next seven issues, Great Lakes Bay Catholic will be featuring stories demonstrating the themes of Catholic Social Teaching.

The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops states “The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society.”

As children of God, we are all created in his image. Sacred Scripture teaches us to love our neighbor, but many are not following this mandate that Jesus gave as the greatest commandment. Human dignity does not define or discriminate against race, class, gender or religion.

The basic human dignity of every person should be at the root of how we carry ourselves and treat others. All people— those on the margins, the incarcerated, the disabled, the unemployed, the seemingly unlovable— all deserve fair treatment and the respect that is demanded as a beloved child of God.

Catholic Social Teaching instructs us to love and not to judge. We must see life through the eyes of an unbiased child. They give unconditional love— until shown differently by those around them. The human dignity of all calls for equality: no one is above another or worth more. We all have received the same calling to help others without judgment or reason. It may be as simple as offering a smile or holding a door open for the person behind us. Or the call may spur us into action, such as helping at a soup kitchen or volunteering at a hospital. As our world continues to face the challenges of war overseas and hate crimes globally, we need to be ready to open our doors to welcome people in and share our clean running water, warm meal or safe place and to be empathetic of their challenges and economic downfalls. This allows us to reinstate Human Dignity.

What is God calling you to do?