STEUBENVILLE - Braving frigid temperatures, nearly 500 Franciscan University of Steubenville students departed on nine buses early Wednesday morning to attend the 2014 March for Life in Washington, D.C.
They were joined at the march by an additional 300 Franciscan University students, alumni, staff and faculty under Franciscan's iconic green banner that proclaims, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. ... Before you were born, I dedicated you. ..." (Jer. 1:5).
Wednesday's event was the 41st anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision in the Roe v. Wade case.
PART OF MARCH — Approximately 500 current Franciscan University of Steubenville students were joined by some 300 university alumni, staff and faculty Wednesday at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to take part in the March for Life.
Class of 2013 Franciscan University of Steubenville graduate Michael Villanueva decided to march under the Franciscan banner because "it's home" to him, even though he is now a seminarian for the Diocese of Phoenix. "I'm here with other seminarians because every moment of life is sanctified and is a true gift from God. So why wouldn't we march to protect life when it's being attacked," he asked.
Looking across the National Mall filled with tens of thousands of marchers, Franciscan University of Steubenville President the Rev. Sean O. Sheridan, TOR, said, "We are here today to defend the sanctity of human life and to defend those who society has chosen not to listen to. This is a public witness of the dignity of the human person, made in the image and likeness of God."
When asked during a live interview by EWTN's Teresa Tomeo what it will take to change society's view of abortion, Sheridan said: "Public witness. We are going to stand up for life. And we're not going to back down."
As he did for 13 years, Franciscan University of Steubenville's former president, now chancellor, the Rev. Terence Henry, TOR, also marched with the students.
"It's not a good day for the beach," Henry said. "But a good day to be here to stand up for those who do not have a voice of their own yet but are part of our human family," he said.
Franciscan University of Steubenville senior English major Theresa Sullivan said, "The cold weather can't dampen our joy. Everyone is passionate to be here and knows exactly why they are here - to proclaim the value of human life."
The day before the march several members of Franciscan University's Students for Life Club attended a national Students for Life Conference in the nation's capital. Jenna Leighton, the president of Franciscan's club, said they discussed how to handle "the hard questions you get asked" about abortion. As to the purpose of the march, she said, "I think it's important that America knows that its people do not believe in abortion."