Jessica Fernandez, a parishioner of Holy Cross in the Bronx, was among March for Life 2020 participants from the Archdiocese of New York who ventured to the nation’s capital to march for life in defense of the unborn.
In the weeks before the march, there was much preparation by coordinators – clergy, women religious and the laity. Ms. Fernandez, youth minister and outreach coordinator for Holy Cross School, led more than 40 eighth-graders who were among dozens of the faithful from the Holy Cross parish community who traveled to Washington, D.C., in two buses.
“We’re teaching them the main motto that we have: the more you seek God, the more you will find your identity; this is part of the their formation,” she said in a phone interview with CNY before the march.
“In the school youth group, we’re teaching them about love—loving themselves, loving others, loving humanity—their dignity and the dignity of others…We’re going to the march with Father Vincent Druding (Holy Cross parochial vicar) and four Sisters of Life.” Also traveling on the buses were several Holy Cross schoolteachers, and parents of some of the students.
Ms. Fernandez, 23, added, “They’re young, but their voices have power. I want them to learn about respect—and God’s love for them. When young people know that God loves them, they have power—and they know that they have a purpose. This will be the first time that my eighth-graders go to the March for Life, and they have been waiting for this since they were young kids. So they are very excited.
“And this is my first time. I’m excited. It’s going to be awesome…On the 22nd we’re going to have women religious (Sisters of Life) at a school youth group meeting, for an orientation for the students and a video on abortion, so they can be prepared for the march on the 24th.”
On a personal note, Ms. Fernandez said she is discerning religious life and has done mission work with Corazon Puro, a Catholic mission organization based in the Bronx. “When I was at Casa Guadalupe (in Clifton, N.J.) I worked with LifeNet, and that’s where I learned more about abortion,” she said. “And I think learning about that and praying outside abortion clinics really gave me this passion to want to protect life. So I’m definitely looking forward to working more with the pro-life movement.”
Casa Guadalupe is a house of prayer and discernment for Catholic lay and consecrated women striving to live Franciscan spirituality.
In a post-march interview, Ms. Fernandez said, “It was a great experience. Father Vincent was our prayer warrior. We made it and the kids felt so accomplished. Because of this march – it opened their eyes. They were very happy to experience it. They are motivated to want to stop abortion.”
In the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, leaders and parishioners from St. Elizabeth and Incarnation parishes made sure they prepared well for this year’s March for Life. That two-parish group numbered more than 50, and was coordinated by the archdiocesan Office of Hispanic Ministry, according to Christian Cisneros, office and media manager. The office has coordinated a March of Life bus each year for the past eight years, Cisneros said.
Krismely Garcia, a married mother of one, is a lead volunteer at St. Elizabeth who attended and helped coordinate the trip to Washington, D.C.
Mrs. Garcia, a patient liaison at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, said she has participated several times in the national March for Life. “All of life is a creation of God,” she said. “We must defend the life of all children, born and unborn, because we are Pro-life. And as Pope Francis says: we must go out into the peripheries.”
On Jan. 22, St. Elizabeth’s pastor, Father Ambiorix Rodriguez, celebrated an evening Mass followed by a vigil service for the March for Life cause, and for peace in the world.