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 | Mitchell Palmquist

Snow no obstacle for the Walk for Life

On a snowy Saturday in January, approximately 1,000 pro-life supporters from throughout the city and the region, gathered at Riverfront Park for the fifth annual Walk for Life. Some of our own Catholic parishes, as well as members of Orthodox and Protestant churches, held signs in the crowd.

During the Mass prior to the Walk for Life, Father Darrin Connall, rector of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, said Pope Francis recently spoke with a group of bishops from Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska. In that meeting,the pope told the bishops, “If we do not defend life, no other rights matter.” The Cathedral was full of families, men, women, young, and old ready to participate in the walk and make their voices heard.

The rally featured talks by Charlotte Oliva, the Walk for Life organizer; Bishop Thomas Daly; and the founder of the Spokane Fatherhood Initiative, Ron Hauenstein.

Bishop Daly opened the rally with a prayer and thanked the crowd for coming out on a snowy day. “If the weather were better, it wouldn’t be much of a sacrifice,” he said.

Ron Hauenstein spoke about growing up in Reardan, Washington, the normalcy of intact families in past generations, and the need today to help men step into their roles as fathers to build a culture of life. The Spokane Fatherhood Initiative’s mission is to “create a new cultural climate that restores the importance, value, and dignity of fatherhood through training programs, networking, community initiatives, and public awareness campaigns that model the teachings of Jesus Christ.”

“What an amazing day to celebrate life and fatherhood, in the birthplace of Father’s Day,” Hauenstein said as he began his speech.

Many in the crowd shared that feeling; repeatedly, people in the crowd said they were out to walk for life with a sense of optimism and were encouraged by the number of people in attendance.

“Our council of the Knights of Columbus has provided a bus for the parish to go to Mass at the Cathedral and to walk in the march. This is the second annual bus trip,” said Bill Boniface, Grand Knight of the St. John XXIII Council of the Knights of Columbus from Assumption Parish. When asked what inspired the Knights to become involved in organizing a bus for the parish,  Boniface said, “What got my attention was about three years ago there was a young lady who talked at the Walk for Life about attending the University of San Francisco and was going to have an abortion. One of her professors talked to her and was able to talk her out of the abortion; she brought her daughter up on stage with her. That woman talking about her story really got to my heart.”

Kathryn Curtis, from St. Augustine Parish, said, “I’m here because I love babies and I love science. As we learn more, science backs up the reality that babies have life from the moment of conception.”

Amid the hundreds who attended this year were many different groups from around Spokane, including a new group of students who will be among the first to attend the new Chesterton Academy of Notre Dame next fall. They carried a ”Chesterton Students for Life” banner in the walk. The headmaster of the Chesterton Academy, Matthew Powell, summed up the reason so many were out in the snow to give witness to the pro-life cause, “The Lord asks us to spread the message of life and love in this world.”