Enthusiastic crowd stands up for life at annual Mass, March at state Capitol

Thousands of participants from around the Archdiocese of Seattle gathered January 22 for the 41st Annual Washington State March for Life at the state Capitol. Photo: Patty Lewis Thousands of participants from around the Archdiocese of Seattle gathered January 22 for the 41st Annual Washington State March for Life at the state Capitol. Photo: Patty Lewis

OLYMPIA – Sharee Corcoran was excited to take a stand for life at her first Mass for Life and Washington State March for Life on January 22, the anniversary of the legalization of abortion.

“I just don’t think it’s good for a person’s soul to have an abortion. And it’s certainly not good for the unborn,” said Corcoran, a recent convert and member of Holy Spirit Parish in Kent.

While in high school, Corcoran said, she knew a girl who had multiple abortions. “I think a few things in life have gone way off-kilter,” she said.

Corcoran was among thousands who enthusiastically rallied on the steps of the state Capitol in light rain after attending the Mass for Life in Olympia and Lacey. Many arrived by chartered bus from parishes and Catholic schools around the archdiocese.

Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Mueggenborg, celebrating Mass at Sacred Heart Church in Lacey, thanked the overflow crowd for being there “to make your presence known, to make your voices heard, to make your faith visible and to take a stand as the body of Christ, protecting and promoting human life this day.”

This year, because of a scheduling conflict at St. Martin’s University, the Mass for Life was held at two locations — Sacred Heart (for those traveling from the north), and St. Michael Church in Olympia, with Archbishop J. Peter Sartain celebrating, for participants coming from the south.

“You and I are here because we believe that we will be judged on how we treat the most innocent and most vulnerable — the unborn, the frail elderly, the disabled, the terminally ill, the foreigner,” Archbishop Sartain said in his homily.

After Mass, participants traveled to the state Capitol grounds to carry pro-life signs and march to the steps of the Capitol building for a rally. There were Catholics and Protestants, families with young children, Knights of Columbus groups, Catholic school students and members of Students for Life.

After filling the steps and spilling onto the area at their base, the marchers heard from pro-life legislators and other speakers, including Noreen McEntee Hobson, president of Washington State March for Life, whose parents founded the event 40 years ago.

“Every life is infinitely valuable,” she told the crowd. “We must all stand and act in love. Whether we agree with people or not on this issue, we stand in love. People are watching and waiting to see what truly pro-all-life people look like, and this is it. You are it.”

Judy Peterson, a member of St. John the Baptist Parish in Covington and mother of seven, has attended the March for Life off and on for 40 years and has volunteered for decades helping pregnant women.

“This is part of who we are [as Catholics], part of our being,” Peterson said. “We must care for those less fortunate, and there’s none less fortunate than the unborn.” 

“It grabs your heart when you think of losing a child, whether unborn or born,” Peterson added, tearing up. “To see people come together like this, it’s a wonderful voice and example of what we believe.”

The schedule for the rally was jam-packed, so there wasn’t enough time for all the pro-life legislators on hand to speak. Those who got a chance to speak included Republican Rep. Vicki Kraft from Clark County’s 17th legislative district.

“This issue is a top priority for me because I’m adopted,” Kraft said. “If my natural mother had not made the choice to give me life, I would not be standing here in front of you today, serving as a people’s representative.” She then urged the crowd to visit their legislators after the rally “with a smile and the love of God. “

Longtime pro-life supporter Sen. Mike Padden, a Republican from Spokane Valley, representing the 4th legislative district, said it was great to see so many young people attending from all over the state.

“The young people are turning our way,” Padden said. “You look at Students for Life, and you look at people that see the humanity of the unborn child through ultrasound, sonograms. We know it’s a living human being,” he added.

Rep. Jesse Young, a Republican from the 26th legislative district that includes Bremerton and Gig Harbor, announced, “I am the result of an abortion that didn’t happen.” He led the crowd, first in a prayer, then in shouting “We love you!” to the small group of protesters across the way.

The rally concluded with Dominican Sister Maria Caeli Parmeter, a teacher at Our Lady Star of the Sea School in Bremerton, leading participants in a prayer: “Heavenly Father, we thank you for creating us, for calling us your adopted sons and daughters. We glorify you, Father. Jesus, our Savior, our friend, we thank you for coming to save us, for not leaving us orphans and for sending us your spirit.”

Afterward, many parish groups went to their legislators’ offices, intending to meet them and advocate for pro-life issues.

Three students from Our Lady of Fatima School in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood came to the Mass and March with their principal, Nicholas Ford.

“It’s our first year,” Ford said. “We’re just starting out, but we’ll go on from here.”

As the students and principal rode home on a chartered bus with other marchers, eighth-grader Alice Stoner reflected on the day.

“It was amazing to see all the people that came together on the steps to stand up for what we believe in,” she said. “I was surprised at the amount of young people there.”

Fellow student Kate Brennan agreed. “Yeah, I was surprised at the diversity of people there.”

After hearing the students’ exchange, Sharee Corcoran leaned forward from her seat on the bus and told the girls: “You give us hope.”

Michelle Bruno

Michelle Bruno is a member of Kent’s Holy Spirit Parish. Contact her at VadeInPace1@outlook.com.