Encouraged by Possible ‘Roe’ Overturning, Minnesotans Pray and March for Life

More than 2,000 souls braved frigid temperatures in St. Paul on Saturday, Jan. 22.

The cathedral prayer service and public support were part of the Jan. 22 event. Lower left: Kaity Gerten and family Lorena Cervantes with two of her children (the other was serving at the service) Lorena Cervantes with two of her children (the other was serving at the service) were in attendance. Upper right: Sister Advocata of the Servants of the Lord the Virgin of Matará is shown, at left, with Mother Faith.
The cathedral prayer service and public support were part of the Jan. 22 event. Lower left: Kaity Gerten and family Lorena Cervantes with two of her children (the other was serving at the service) Lorena Cervantes with two of her children (the other was serving at the service) were in attendance. Upper right: Sister Advocata of the Servants of the Lord the Virgin of Matará is shown, at left, with Mother Faith. (photo: Coutesy photo / Susan Klemond)

As many pro-lifers have new hope for the overturning of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade legalizing abortion nationally, more than 2,000 people braved frigid temperatures in St. Paul on Saturday, Jan. 22, to attend the “Prayer Service for Life” at the St. Paul Cathedral, followed by the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life’s 48th-annual March for Life to the Minnesota State Capitol.

During the prayer service, St. Paul-Minneapolis Archbishop Bernard Hebda encouraged pro-lifers to pray for a positive outcome in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case before the Supreme Court that involves banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. But he also asked them to listen in prayer for the Lord’s marching orders for promoting a culture of life, as the battle could shift from Washington, D.C., to the states.

“My suggestion this morning, my brothers and sisters, is that we ask for the gift of being able to hear in our prayer the Lord’s desire for us and for his world,” said the archbishop during the service of readings, songs, intercessions and honoring of local pro-life leaders, “that we be able to be his foot soldiers as we strive to discern how we can work to rebuild the culture of life, a culture of life that pleases our God [and that] he intended for us from the beginning of all creation. We’re going to need direction in a post-Roe world for how we can change the decision-making at the state and local levels, particularly here in Minnesota.”

‘Choose Life’: Several thousand people turned out to support the unborn in St. Paul, Minnesota. Susan Klemond photos
‘Choose Life’: Several thousand people turned out to support the unborn in St. Paul, Minnesota.(Photo: Courtesy photos)

Ron Miller, 56, of Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, awaits the Supreme Court decision while continuing to pray. “It’s got to be a change of heart and more than just the laws,” he said. “The people still have to know that life is important — no matter what: the unborn or the aged, all life from conception to natural death.”

Miller said he came with about 30 others to support the dignity and value of all life.

Joseph Draganowski, 17, said he is also hopeful that Roe v. Wade may be overturned. “That would be so great,” said Draganowski, who is vice president of the pro-life club at his school, St. Agnes, in St. Paul. 

“Then we need to start fighting on the individual state fronts, also with states trying to have the mail-in abortion pills. [We need to] fight against that and also talk about the abortion-pill reversal.”

The tide seems to be turning, said Draganowski, who attended the service and march with about 10 of his classmates. “It’s going to be a long hard fight because we’re fighting with the prince of this world here, but it’s not really going to be over until the last day of judgment. We might get some big improvements here. We can do as much as we can.”

Attending the prayer service with her three children, Lorena Cervantes, 45, of St. Paul said it’s important to support life because as Catholics we believe God placed us here for a purpose and people should think about the fact that their parents gave them life. 

She said life is precious, and babies should be welcomed. 

She mourns the tiny lives lost to abortion: “Maybe that son or that daughter who isn’t here could have been someone very important, maybe a doctor, an engineer, or would have been president, who could have helped or save our lives.”

Kaity Gerten, 30, who attended with her husband, Tony, and their three small children, was glad to come on a Saturday this year for the prayer service but added that the march would be too cold for their children. “It’s usually on a weekday, and I have the kids,” said Gerten of South St. Paul.

“I’m here because as a convert I wasn’t always pro-life,” she said. “I actually was more likely to say I wouldn’t [have an abortion], but ‘It’s your choice.’ As I’ve deepened my faith, I’ve come to really respect how every life is created by God and so it’s not our right to make any choices [against life] — and to even have it enshrined in law that other people can make that choice. It’s totally wrong; and especially being a mother now and seeing the potentiality that each life has, from totally helpless to learning all the things that children learn as they grow.”

Gerten now serves on the board of a pregnancy-resource center and said she hopes the pro-life movement will focus more on being a safety net for women who need help. “It’s not as simple as just making it illegal,” she said. “You have to be there to be the hope and to help people see that there is hope and resources for them.”

After the prayer service, Sister Advocata of the Servants of the Lord the Virgin of Matará said it was beautiful to pray with many families and that the growing number of young people give her hope for the pro-life movement. “Since I was a little kid, we always prayed for the end of abortion, and it’s beautiful to see so many [pro-life] things in the legislature in our country.”

Traveling from her community’s Mankato, Minnesota, mission to attend the prayer service and march, Sister Advocata admitted that though she has attended many marches in the United States and Canada, Minnesota’s was the coldest. Despite the cold, she said, “I was excited to come up to St. Paul, the capitol, to really give a witness for life and the importance of showing our government leaders that there are many people who believe that life is the first human right and the thing to be protected.”

After marching just over half a mile from the cathedral to the capitol and then around the capitol grounds, marchers gathered for a program of talks and music on the capitol steps.

 “Minnesota is pro-life! Lift up your signs!” exhorted Jan Ochsner, head of ceremonies during the program. Her comments were followed by a rumble of gloved and mittened hands clapping. 

 Ochsner, development director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, Minnesota’s largest pro-life organization, introduced speakers, including U.S. Rep. Michelle Fischbach, who represents Minnesota’s seventh district and co-chairs the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus. “The pro-life movement includes moms and dads, nurses and doctors, students and teachers, and people from all walks of life,” she said. “We are all here to be a voice for the voiceless.”

‘Choose Life’: Several thousand people turned out to support the unborn in St. Paul, Minnesota. Susan Klemond photos
‘Choose Life’: Several thousand people turned out to support the unborn in St. Paul, Minnesota.(Photo: Courtesy photo)

State Sen. Julia Coleman, a Republican from Chanhassen, shared her story of facing pressure to abort during her second pregnancy. “As the pro-life community, we are called to advocate for not only the child but the mother, as well,” Coleman said. “We must urge our leaders to create an environment for women that makes keeping their child an easy choice.” 

Helping women out of crisis as part of advancing the culture of life will be a big task but not an impossible one, Archbishop Hebda said during the prayer service. 

“We have a God who reminds us so often in sacred Scripture that nothing is impossible for God,” he said. “With that confidence, we bring our prayers before the Lord of life. We commit ourselves to discerning his will and marching orders, and we ask that we might strengthen one another as we prayerfully continue the battle as men and women of faith, committing to discerning and doing the Lord’s will. Nothing is impossible for God. We hand this over to him this day.” 

Ivan Aivazovsky, “Walking on Water,” ca. 1890

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