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220 ND students attend protest

Tess Civantos | Friday, January 23, 2009

WASHINGTON – The 220 Notre Dame students who attended the 36th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. Thursday sensed new energy and purpose in the wake of the recent inauguration and were met with meaningful support, marchers said.

“There was a lot more energy in how the politicians at the rally were speaking,” said junior Mary Daly, Notre Dame Right to Life club president

Onlookers were thrilled to see Notre Dame marching 220 strong.

“Walking along, people were cheering for us, calling out support,” Daly said. “They’ll come up and ask us how many people we brought. People are always very impressed and glad to see us there.”

High school junior Colin Cortes of Chicago, Ill. said he enjoyed seeing Notre Dame’s strong presence at the march.

“I loved seeing Notre Dame there, really representing what a Catholic university should be, especially now that a lot of Catholic universities don’t value church teachings. It’s great to see Notre Dame standing up for them,” Cortes said.

“Seeing that, I consider myself a huge Notre Dame fan,” he said.

The march began with a rally on the National Mall. A series of pro-life politicians and religious leaders, including rabbis, Byzantine Orthodox priests and Protestant pastors each spoke briefly to the audience of more than 200,000.

The controversial Freedom of Choice Act, commonly known as FOCA, was brought up repeatedly. FOCA is a bill before Congress that states every woman in the United States has the right to terminate a pregnancy due to health reasons or before the fetus is viable.

Following the series of speakers, several members of the United States Council of Catholic Bishops introduced themselves to the crowd by name and diocese. Marchers from the bishops’ hometowns greeted their bishops with resounding cheers.

The rally concluded with the Archbishop of Washington, D.C., Donald W. Wuerl, leading the marchers in prayer.

“We come before you as men and women as many faiths,” he said, drawing attention to the many faiths represented at the march.

The marchers then walked to the Supreme Court building. Notre Dame students made their presence known with cheers adapted from football games, like “Go Irish! Save Babies!” and frequent renditions of the Fight Song and Alma Mater.

Daley said one big change to the march is that faculty came this year. The whole staff of the Center for Ethics and Culture joined in the march.

“With the new pro-life fund through the Center for Ethics and Culture we were able to invite the entire University hierarchy. Even though Father Jenkins couldn’t come, his senior advisor, Father Jim McDonald, was able to make it,” she said.

Bill Dotterweich, a 1958 Notre Dame alum, is a big supporter of the pro-life movement and Notre Dame Right to Life, Daley said. He contributed to the fund to send members of the Notre Dame administration to Washington for the march, as well as to support Right to Life efforts on campus.

Sophomore Karlo Leonor went on the march and returned on the bus later the night following.

“I thought it was really encouraging to see the professors there, especially those who brought their families,” Leonor said.

Leonor said there was a sense of camaraderie among the marchers.

“You could feel the common appreciation for Notre Dame as America’s Catholic institution,” Leonor said