Several Catholic college leaders attend the March for Life in Washington, D.C., each January, setting an important example for their students and for Catholics who are grateful for their public witness.
“Abortion is the civil rights issue of the day,” explained Stephen Minnis, president of Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, in response to why he participates in the March for Life. “I march as a witness to my belief in the dignity of human life and to find ways to end abortion in my lifetime.”
“I also want to demonstrate to our students that I am with them in this important issue and that the person chosen to lead their college also believes strongly in the same things they do with regard to the protection of innocent life,” Minnis continued.
He and other leaders of the faithful Catholic colleges recommended in The Newman Guide will attend the March for Life this year on Jan. 18.
“Building the Culture of Life can take many forms—including Catholic liberal education itself—but there also be times to speak, to march, and to give public witness,” explained Dr. George Harne, president of Northeast Catholic College in Warner, New Hampshire, who will also be among this year’s crowd.
“When a building is on fire, everyone, no matter his or her normal role, pitches in to save the structure and the lives contained therein,” Dr. Harne said. “Our culture has set itself aflame and we must do all that we can…”
When it comes to the March for Life, these Catholic colleges spare no effort. Hundreds of students travel from locations across the country, sleep in buses or on Church hall floors, and pray for an end to abortion. Northeast Catholic College cancels classes during the March for Life, and so do The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia, and Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio. Several others allow students excused absences.
Classes are canceled at Christendom College in order to “insure full participation of the college community in this important event, year after year,” according to President Dr. Timothy O’Donnell. It has been an “honor and grace” to participate in the March for Life, which is a “powerful witness in defense of God’s precious gift of unborn children,” said Dr. O’Donnell.
The witness of these presidents to the sacredness of human life extends all year long. Dr. Bill Thierfelder, president of Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, North Carolina, will be attending the March for Life and was instrumental in building a maternity home for single, pregnant college students from across the country on the Abbey’s campus.
Other presidents who plan to attend the March for Life include Ave Maria University President Jim Towey, University of Mary President Msgr. James Shea, Franciscan University of Steubenville President Fr. Sean Sheridan, and University of St. Thomas President Dr. Richard Ludwick.
Kelly Salomon is the director of Newman Guide programs for The Cardinal Newman Society.