Joseph Staniunas, Special to The Catholic Virginian
Youth! Youth!” exclaimed Amy Jo Krystek of St. Andrew the Apostle, Chincoteague Island, as she prepared to join the first Virginia March for Life.
“We have youth, but we don’t get to see them very often, and to see all of the schools, all of the young adults, helps spur hope.”
Hundreds of children and dozens of college students were part of the rally and walk that drew an estimated 7,000 people from both Virginia dioceses to the state Capitol on Wednesday, April 3, to protest attempts by Gov. Ralph Northam and some state legislators to support abortion rights during this year’s General Assembly.
Virginia Tech student Gigi Grogan said she’s been to the national March for Life in Washington 20 times.
“In D.C. you see people from all across America, which is awesome for the American people to come together for the most fundamental right to life,” she said. “And I think that’s important at the state level too, to come together as Virginians to protect and stand up for and make a public witness to this most basic right.”
Joining her was fellow Tech student Ben Eller.
“I think it’s good for us to come together as a community to re-invigorate our drive,” he said. “Not only do we need to be doing things to promote pro-life legislation, but there are things we can do near our homes, too, to help support women and to support life.”
Ramsey Yunis, a Williamsburg resident and VT student, said that he used to lean toward support for abortion rights until he became involved in Students for Life, an independent organization focused on educating young people from middle-school to college on pro-life issues.
“And I’m here because I think this is the best way to encourage other people and maybe try to take them on the same journey I’ve been through,” he said. “I don’t think you can go from being pro-choice to pro-life and not also want to bring other people with you.”
Many of the 1,100 Catholic school students who came to Richmond attended the Mass celebrated by Bishop Barry C. Knestout in the convention center before the noon rally.
“It’s remarkable to see so many young people gathered here to speak for life,” he said.
Among the students participating in the march was Jake Kiggans, a senior from Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School, Virginia Beach.
“Being able to come on these marches and see everybody else and being able to exercise your faith is a very big deal,” he said. “A large portion of the world is pro-choice, so when we go to these rallies we see that there are other people who support pro-life.”
“I think it’s really important that we all come together and know that you’re not alone in the fight,” said Amara Davidson, a sophomore at Bishop Sullivan. “All life is important from the point of conception until death and it’s important that Virginia sees that, and that our government knows that there are people who want things to change.”
Among the group from Peninsula Catholic High School, Newport News, was sophomore Sean Glauner.
“Being a student at a Catholic high school, you feel like you’re part of such a small community and you can’t really express yourself the way you want to,” he said. “So if you see a bunch of people in your area that have the same points of view that you do it makes it a deeper sense of community and really helps you grow within your faith.”
“There is hope,” said Amy Jo Krystek, “but we gotta keep pushing, we gotta keep letting people hear our voice.”