I.C. School in Jeff. City to be honored at Midwest March for Life

Students share recollections from January trip to Washington, D.C. for national March for Life


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Studens of Immaculate Conception School in Jefferson City are about to take part in their second March for Life of the year.

Students from the school, which chartered a bus to Washington, D.C., in January for the National March for Life, will receive the Pro-Life School of the Year Award and carry the banner for the Midwest March for Life on Wednesday, May 1, in Jefferson City.

“One thing we kept hearing in Washington was, ‘Roe is done, but our work is not done,’” said Principal Heather Schrimpf.

“Because until abortion becomes unthinkable in the minds of all, we will continue to march,” she said.

Thousands of people are expected to attend the 15th annual Midwest March for Life and associated activities on the grounds of the State Capitol.

Activities are planned from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Parishes and schools throughout the diocese are encouraged to attend.

Participants are urged to wear red.

The day’s activities will begin at 8 a.m. with a Prayer Walk in the Capitol, and the praying of the Rosary on the North Lawn of the Capitol.

Bishop Edward M. Rice of Springfield-Cape Girardeau will pray the Opening Prayer and give remarks at the pre-march rally, which will begin at 9:15 a.m.

Speakers at the pre-march rally will include Melissa Ohden, founding CEO of The Abortion Survivors Network, who survived an attempt to end her life in the womb by a failed saline infusion abortion.

Immaculate Conception School will be honored for its consistent, multifaceted pro-life efforts.

The March through downtown Jefferson City’s streets will occur immediately after the rally.

A grilled hot dog lunch prepared by the Knights of Columbus St. Peter Parish Council in Fulton will be offered at a reasonable cost.

A youth rally will be held outside the Capitol at 12:15 p.m., while Dena Espenscheid, senior director of coalitions at the Leadership Institute, gives an update on the statewide ballot initiative at 12:15 p.m. in the Capitol Rotunda.

Further information and a full listing of the agenda for the day can be found at: midwestmarchforlife.com.

Bishop Rice will preside and preach the homily at the Closing Mass at 1:30 p.m. in the nearby Proto-Cathedral of St. Peter. Bishop James V. Johnston of Kansas City-St. Joseph will concelebrate.

“Shoulder to shoulder”

Immaculate Conception School eighth-graders who attended the National March for Life in Washington came home filled with passion to protect pregnant mothers and pre-born babies alike from abortion.

“Because all life, born and unborn, is sacred,” said eighth-grader Mary Webb.

The March in D.C. coincided with the 51st anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions that legalized abortion-on-demand throughout the United States.

The Supreme Court struck down Roe in its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in 2022, sending jurisdiction over abortion back to the states.

Missouri lawmakers had already passed a law outlawing most elective abortions. That law went into effect the day of the Supreme Court decision.

That law and others aimed at regulating abortion are the subject of a campaign to amend the state’s Constitution through the initiative petition process. (See a related story on Page 3.)

Different perspectives

Recalling the National March for Life in January, Mary and I.C. eighth-grader Olivia were amazed at the number of people who attended.

“We were shoulder to shoulder with a lot of people,” said Olivia.

“At one point,” Mary recalled, “we could see up the hill and you could see how many people are in front of you and how many are behind you. The crowd was immense.”

“It was very energetic,” said eighth-grader Colton Verslues. “There were a lot of people, some of them very outspoken.”

For eighth-grader Payton Arras, the speakers were as intriguing as the March.

“Learning what some of them went through — it really made you think,” said Payton. “Some talked about how they wanted to get an abortion but people supported them and they wound up having the baby.”

Others speakers talked about the trauma and regret they experienced during and after having abortion, and the healing and reconciliation they finally sought and received.

Eighth-grader Elliott King couldn’t believe it when he heard that more than 60 million abortions have been carried out in the United States since the Roe decision in 1973.

“It’s such a big number,” said eighth-grader Mark Saucier. “I never realized how many abortions actually happen.”

Help and guidance

The students also learned about helping women who are pregnant and feel frightened or hopeless.

“One thing that’s really important is for people to know that there’s help available, that they’re not alone and that there are people who support them,” said Mary.

Sometimes, the clearest witness is encouragement and information about where to go for help.

“When you’re out and around and someone’s talking abortion as the only way for them to get through, you can tell them that sometimes you need help and that you’ve got to reach out for it,” said Elliott.

“I would tell them to contact a pregnancy help organization, because they’d know how to help them,” said Mark.

“I would also remind them that this is all God’s plan, and that every life is precious,” said Elliott.

“I’d be really positive and tell them I’ll help them if they ever need it,” said eighth-grader Braylen Stevens, “that their baby matters.”

Something to build on

The students also visited several churches in Washington and toured the National Holocaust Museum.

“It’s another one of those things that you don’t realize how bad it is until you see it in a museum or something,” said Braylen. “Like all the hair and the shoes and the suitcases.”

Mrs. Schrimpf said it’s important to understand that a Catholic school’s mission is not just to say that it is pro-life, but to show it.

“You can’t be truly pro-life until you accept the dignity of all life, no matter what stage it is,” she stated.

“It isn’t just about abortion itself, it’s about so many other things,” she added. “Whether it’s living out the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy — clothing the naked, giving shelter to the homeless — all of those things are ways to show that you’re pro-life and to uphold the things that are nonnegotiable, but always with love and compassion.”

She believes encouraging students to put their faith into action by serving others gives them a solid foundation for being pro-life.

“And what better way to do that than through our Catholic schools and our parishes?” she said. “Because this is where it starts.”