Earlier this month I attended the second annual March for Life in Victoria, British Columbia.
And speaking as a Canadian who has worked for America’s finest weekly Catholic newspaper for the last nine years, I’m delighted to report the May 14 March was a stirring example of pro-life cross-border collaboration.
For Catholics, the day’s proceedings kicked off with a special noon Mass at St. Andrew’s Cathedral, celebrated by Bishop Richard Gagnon of Victoria and concelebrated by Archbishop Michael Miller of Vancouver and Bishop David Munro of Kamloops. Following the Mass, a crowd of about 2,000 marched from Victoria City Hall to B.C.’s provincial legislature.
There, the links between Victoria’s pro-life March and the United States — and the National Catholic Register — were on immediate display: The master of ceremonies was Catholic journalist Terry O’Neill, who is a Register correspondent.
Terry opened his remarks with a quote from a famous American, opposing the injustice of slavery: “I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I can not remember when I did not so think, and feel.”
“The quotation I just read was written a century and a half ago by Abraham Lincoln,” Terry noted. “Today, slavery is no more. But we have a new and pernicious evil that must be challenged — abortion. Today, in echo of Lincoln, I proclaim, ‘I am naturally anti-abortion. If abortion is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I cannot remember when I did not so think and feel.’”
Added Terry, “Let Lincoln’s words and actions inspire us as we continue to march and to rally, to act and to pray to create a world free of abortion.”
First to address the crowd was Archbishop Miller, who has deep ties to the United States. Prior to being appointed as Secretary for the Vatican’s Congregation of Catholic Education and subsequently as Archbishop of Vancouver, the Ottawa-born archbishop served his Basilian order as a faculty member and later as president at the University of St. Thomas in Houston. In fact, Archbishop Miller is the proud holder of U.S. as well as Canadian citizenship courtesy of his long and distinguished service to the Church in the United States.
And the final speaker of the afternoon — and the keynote speaker at a pro-life banquet later in the evening — was pro-life Seattle Rabbi Daniel Lapin. Rabbi Lapin charged up his Canadian audience with an ebullient declaration that “we are winning” the culture war over abortion.
But perhaps the most concrete demonstration of cross-border collaboration at the Victoria March for Life was the joint presentation by Robin and Rachel Daniels, a young Catholic couple.
Robin is the Canadian half of the couple, having immigrated as a teen to Canada from his native South Africa. Rachel grew up directly across the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Victoria in a Catholic home-schooling family in Port Angeles, Wash. (Register subscribers can read about her home-schooling experiences in this Register article written by Steve Weatherbe.)
Robin and Rachel met several years ago, while both were serving mission years with NET Ministries of Canada, an Ottawa-based Catholic youth ministry.
“My wife Rachel and I are so grateful to be here today,” Robin told the crowd. “Not only just honored to be with you here on this occasion, but grateful to be alive. I’m young enough to be part of a generation where, if we think carefully, we passed life’s first test just by being born. We were the lucky ones.”
In her remarks, Rachel called for a new pro-life feminism that reflects the “feminine genius” for affirming life.
“To my sisters standing here in this crowd, and to the men who up hold you and revere you as wives, sisters and daughters, let us now reclaim that which is feminine and breathe life into a feminism which has let us down because of its lifelessness,” Rachel said. “As a woman it is not our right to ‘choose,’ rather it is our nature to give life.”
Full disclosure: There’s a reason I know a lot about the Daniels. They are close friends of my wife Alina and me, and their two-year-old son Mark is best friends with our own two-year-old Matthew (a.k.a. “Baby Blog”).
Here’s a picture of Mark (on the left) and Matthew, taken while they were playing together at the McFeely household on the day of the March for Life:
Pro-Life, The Next Generation (Alina McFeely)