By Tony DeGol
Standing in defense of human life does not take a break because of frigid weather.
Even with temperatures in the teens and a snow storm looming, a hearty crowd of pro-lifers turned out for the annual Respect Life March in Tyrone.
Held on January 16, this year’s gathering marked a milestone.
“It’s just amazing to me that a group of men here started this tradition 35 years ago,” noted Jack Wagner of the Knights of Columbus Saint Gregory Council at Saint Matthew Parish in Tyrone.
The Respect Life March began after the remains of an unidentified child were found in the Bellwood area of Blair County in 1987. When authorities completed their investigation, the Knights adopted the baby, gave her the name Baby Agnes Doe, and provided a funeral Mass and proper burial.
Pro-life individuals have gathered every year since then – first assembling at Saint Matthew for a short prayer service and then walking 1.25 miles to her grave at Oak Grove Cemetery for another brief prayer service.
In his remarks at the church, Father Jozef Kovacik, Pastor of Saint Matthew Parish, recalled that the priest who celebrated the funeral Mass for Baby Agnes Doe told mourners that the little girl accomplished more and impacted so many people in her two days of living then most people do in a lifetime.
“God has given us a voice, and that’s all we can do is speak on behalf of those who can’t speak for themselves, and pray for a conversion in our society and the courage to welcome every life into our midst,” Father Kovacik added.
Various elected officials attended the Respect Life March, including Congressman John Joyce.
“I salute all of the young people here because you are the pro-life generation,” he said. “Your message has to be brought forth. I pray with you today that the rights and the lives of the unborn are respected. The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is what we need in America. This message is loud and clear today.”
The Respect Life March was held virtually last year because of the pandemic. Although it returned this year, organizers did not host the usual hot luncheon at the parish following the march because of COVID concerns.
The Knights of Columbus look forward to continuing the tradition for years to come.
“This issue is not going to go away until we all learn to respect life in all forms,” assured Wagner. “It is important through the whole year to respect life, and when we’re done here today not just wait for next year’s march. We need to do things throughout the year to celebrate life.”