Thousands of people marched through the streets of downtown Edmonton May 12 in the annual March for Life.

WCR PHOTO | THANDIWE KONGUAVI

Thousands of people marched through the streets of downtown Edmonton May 12 in the annual March for Life.

May 30, 2016
THANDIWE KONGUAVI
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
THANDIWE KONGUAVI WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Clarence and Marie Ibach's family is a living witness that every life is a gift from God.

Originally seeking "healthy" children when they set out to adopt, the Ibachs' family portrait today includes 10 children with various disabilities, including Down syndrome, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy and fetal alcohol syndrome.

Fr. Jim Corrigan

Fr. Jim Corrigan

"We said, 'God, whatever you want,' and that's what he gave us," said Marie. "They're special."

"From conception 'til natural death, everybody's life is a gift from God," said Clarence.

The Ibachs joined thousands of other participants in the Alberta March for Life on May 12, walking through the streets of Edmonton from Sir Winston Churchill Square to the Alberta Legislature to raise public awareness about the dignity of human life from conception to natural death.

Traditionally, the march was to promote awareness of the value of life of the unborn. But this year, with the spectre of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, the urgency for participation was twofold, said Father Jim Corrigan, pastor of St. Theresa's Parish in Edmonton.

God, who created each human life out of love, in his image and likeness, is the only one, the only being, who has the right to give life and to take it away, Corrigan said in his speech on the steps of the Legislature.

The theme for this year's rally and march was No Tax Money for Abortions!

"For pretty much 40 years, our reality is that our federal government has made it possible for us to choose which little ones come into the world and which do not," said Corrigan. "It's a sad reality when people in power decide who will live and who will die."

"Friends, you are here because this is not news to you. You are already very much aware of the culture of death that ended the lives of 13,000 babies last year in Alberta alone."

"We must be fearless, zealous and courageous in our proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ and of the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death."

At the preceding Mass for Life at St. Joseph's Basilica, Archbishop Richard Smith commended the large show of students in attendance, for their courage to defend the sanctity of human life.

Teacher Jim Zdril, of St. Thomas Aquinas School in Spruce Grove, said once the students learned about doctor-assisted suicide and the pervasive "culture of death," they became interested and passionate about participating in the march.

"Once the students understood what's at stake - that we need to value every single human life and if we lose that, everything starts falling apart - they're the ones that wanted to come," said Zdril.

"It's important that we show our support that life is precious," Meeuwissen said. "From what I've heard, the most dangerous place for a human being in the U.S., is in the mother's womb. I thought that was really disappointing."

"It would suck to die at a young age," added schoolmate Brett Boyne.

NO IMPOSITION

Often, the Church is accused of seeking to impose its beliefs upon society, said the archbishop.

"Our centuries-long and steadfast opposition to abortion, and now to the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia is not an imposition but a defence," he said.

"We are defending the dignity of every human life. We are standing against the message, implicit for example in the Supreme Court's Carter decision, that there are some lives not worth living."

"We are upholding the principle necessary for all people - believers and non-believers alike - to live together in common society: the killing of the innocent is always morally wrong.

"We defend the inalienable dignity of every human life at all stages of existence, and we advocate that this dignity be upheld in family life, in medical practice, and in the laws of our land."

ALMIGHTY GOD

Far more important than the speeches at the rally is the simple act of marching, said Smith, which contains within itself its own message: a challenge to the world view in which the sovereignty of Almighty God is replaced by the will of the autonomous self.

Grade 7 student Sarah Meeuwissen said she felt compelled to help people understand that life is "amazing" and to show support for the elderly, sick and the unborn.

"Our act of marching says: With this world view, we beg to differ. God exists. He is Creator, our lives matter to him. He has a purpose for each of us.

"By the sending of his Son and Holy Spirit, God has revealed that he acts in our lives, in our history, to guide us and save us and bring us to the fulfillment of the destiny he has determined for each of his beloved children."

Vera Fischer, program manager at the Edmonton Pregnancy Crisis Centre, said she participates in the march with volunteers from the agency to be a visible witness to the sanctity of life from conception to natural death.

"Showing ourselves in a visible way is a true testimony of our belief," said Fischer. "It's edifying. It confirms everything we do: our belief, our work, and it grounds us."

MC Stephanie Fennelly, executive director of pro-life advocacy group The Wilberforce Project, said six years ago she was pro-choice.

The march is important, Fennelly said, because "Hearts and minds change."